By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
Nissan’s 370Z for 2016 manages to strike a compelling balance between the sports-car driving experience its name and design suggest, but while simultaneously being a car you can live with every day. Available in Coupe, drop-top Roadster and Nismo versions, there's a Nissan 370Z for just about anybody, as long as they don't need more than two seats. Priced alongside cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, many owners compare their Z to cars like the Porsche Cayman and BMW Z4. It's not just posturing, as the 370Z offers plenty of power, excellent handling and even track-ready driving in Nismo form. This year, standard and Nismo coupes benefit from a new audio system that includes active noise cancellation, further refining the driving experience.
A powerful V6 engine, sharply tuned suspension and head-turning style mean the 2-seat 2016 Nissan 370Z virtually stands alone at its price point. Not only that, it has a reputation for reliability that's as strong as its performance.
The Nissan 370Z's emphasis on balance means it's out-muscled by V8-powered coupes like the Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Additionally, all three of those American muscle cars offer 300-plus horsepower and a lower price tag.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016 both the Nissan 370 Coupe and Nismo model offer a new Bose audio system that includes active noise cancellation, designed to help quiet the on-road ride for a more refined driving experience.
To drive the 2016 Nissan 370Z Coupe or Roadster around town, you'd be hard pressed to believe it's as capable as it is on a twisting road. Although road distortions...
... and freeway expansion joints will quickly make their presence known, the ride isn't overly harsh, especially for a 2-seat sports car. Get the Z out on one of those mountain passes, though, and you'll discover a car with flat cornering, excellent steering and powerful brakes. The 370Z manual transmission's SynchroRev Match matches revs on downshifts for you, making it easy to shift this sports car like a pro. The strong and smooth V6 offers excellent mid- and high-rev power, but it lacks the low-end grunt you get from a V8. Also, note that the 370Z Nismo versions are geared toward the hard-core enthusiast, and as such sacrifice quite a bit of on-road comfort for that last nth of handling.
This rev-matching technology is becoming more commonplace now – the current-generation Corvette has it, for example – but it's still a godsend for drivers who want to properly match revs on downshifts, eliminating the need for heel-toe downshifts. Don't worry, old-schoolers: You can turn it off.
Really helping the Z stand out is its balance between comfort and handling. You'd expect the excellent handling you get with the Z, but the comfortable ride you get when cruising to the beach is unexpected, and welcome.
The 2016 Nissan 370Z now has available active noise-cancellation technology, which helps quiet the interior without adding heavy sound-deadening materials. That fits in with the upscale materials and quality feel of the 370Z. The instruments and controls are easy to read and right where you'd expect them, and the three gauges in the center of the dash hearken back to the original Z from the 1970s. Comfortable seats and decent cargo space add to the everyday livability of the 370Z, as do clever details like a main gauge cluster that tilts with the steering wheel.
One of the first things you'll notice about the Nissan 370Z Coupe and Roadster is how small it is. Low-slung and wide, the big wheels, flared fenders and cantilevered roof give it a purposeful look, although its short overall length can make it look stubby from some angles. No matter, with the available Sport Package you get front and rear spoilers and bigger tires and wheels, while the higher-performance Nismo version includes aerodynamic aids like a larger front spoiler and rear wing. The Roadster's power-operated top quickly stows underneath a hard cover for open-air motoring.
The 2016 Nissan 370Z Coupe comes in base, Sport, Sport Tech, Touring, Nismo and Nismo Tech trim levels; 370Z Roadster models offer only base, Touring and Touring Sport. The base 370Z models offer automatic climate control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio and cruise controls, keyless entry and start, xenon headlights and a 4-speaker audio system with auxiliary input. Touring models feature luxuries like power-adjustable heated seats, navigation, leather and suede inside, while Sport models offer bigger wheels and a rear spoiler. Nismo models get more power and stiffer suspension. Safety features include stability control, active head restraints and six airbags.
Options are assigned rigidly to trim levels in the Nissan 370Z, with just the choice of a 7-speed automatic and various factory- and dealer-installed accessories available as stand-alone options. An Aerodynamic Package adds a front wind deflector and rear spoiler.
Under the long nose of the 2016 370Z is Nissan's excellent 3.7-liter V6 engine. Developing 332 horsepower in regular 370Z models, and 350 horsepower in the Nismo, it makes the Z a quick, powerful and responsive machine. Two transmissions are available to send the power to the rear wheels, either the standard 6-speed manual with its SynchroRev Match (available on Sport, Sport Tech and Nismo models), or a 7-speed automatic. Fuel economy is pretty good for a powerful sports car, but note that Nissan recommends premium gasoline in both versions of this engine.
332 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
350 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm (Nismo)
270 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
276 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm (Nismo)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (Coupe, manual), 19/26 mpg (Coupe, automatic), 17/25 mpg (Roadster, manual), 18/25 mpg (Roadster, automatic)
Prices for the 2016 Nissan 370Z Coupe start with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under the $31,000 mark when you include the $825 destination charge. The story's a bit different for the Nismo coupe, which starts at just under $43,000. On the drop-top side, a 370Z Roadster starts quite a bit higher, at nearly the same $43,000 as the Nismo coupe. Loaded models get pricey fast, with a Roadster Touring Sport topping $50,000. At that price, V8 versions of the Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger are also available, and none of those are exactly slouches. However, if you avoid the higher trims you can get a very reasonably priced sports car. Just check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to make sure you're getting the best deal in your area, and note that the Nissan 370Z should hold its value well over the long term.