There’s a lengthy list of reasons to consider a Nissan 370Z as a candidate for your sports-car dollars, including the fact that this year the latest version of Nissan’s cut-price sports car now requires less of those dollars to own. Much to the bane of anyone who bought a 370Z last year, Nissan has pulled some $10,000 out of the Z’s base pricetag for model year 2016, and shoppers considering the market’s latest affordable and capable high-value performance cars can now count the 370Z among their list of test-drive candidates.
What is a 2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe?
The 2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe is the entry-version of Nissan’s latest Z car, and aims to stand out as a compelling deal for shoppers prioritizing performance and pedigree beyond feature content and gadgets.
2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe Pricing and Specs
Priced at $29,990, the 370Z Enthusiast Coupe packs a 332-horsepower V6 engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive so you can talk drifting with your buds. All models are two-door, two-seat units, and feature content includes push-button start, smart-key access, a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, xenon lights and automatic climate control.
Driving the 2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe
Sports-car-from-the-get-go design sees the Z built on a lightweight and compact platform intended as a performance car from the start, rather than a commuter model with go-fast parts added. This eliminates numerous performance compromises relating to size and weight, and forms the foundation for an authentic performance driving experience uncommon in souped-up, performance-branded value models. The Z was built as a sports model, not modified into one -- and it shows.
The 3.7L V6 comes from Nissan’s award-winning VQ engine family, and it’s gorgeous. With low revs and light throttle, it’s so smooth and quiet you’d almost wonder if it’s running on butter. Opened up, power swells as the 7,500 rpm redline approaches, with thrust building in a linear fashion to a peaky, high-rpm surge at redline complete with a frantically blinking shift-light requesting you engage the next gear.
This engine works and sounds best when it’s revving to the moon, and uses Nissan’s trick Variable Valve Timing technology to optimize both low- and high-rev output. The stubby shifter and grabby clutch work nicely together for smooth and quick shifts once you get into their rhythm, and you’ll get used to the top-heavy clutch-pedal hinge. Like the engine, the shifting seems tuned to feel best when things are opened up.
Ride quality and handling are nicely balanced. Drivers will feel like they’re in a proper sports car, but without getting spine-punched over every single bump. That’s backed by the steering, which is relatively quick but not so much that it makes the Z feel nervous or dart-y on a highway drive. If you’re using yours mainly on the road, this setup works nicely. If you’re hitting the track, options are available for a model with bigger brakes and a more all-out sports tuned suspension, although this base model Z will be no slouch at a weekend track day.
Notably, the steering lightens up beautifully at low speeds for tight-quarter maneuverability, though limited outward visibility means frequent all-around checks and proper mirror adjustments are absolutely vital. Further, some shoppers will wish for less road and wind noise at speed, and others will wish for a more pleasing sound from the Z’s factory exhaust. Budget a few bucks for aftermarket exhaust modifications to taste if the dull exhaust note is an issue for you.
Mileage on my highway-intensive test-drive landed under 10L/100km of premium unleaded, which is reasonable given the available performance.
Inside and Outside of the 2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe
Drivers plunk down deep into the Z’s body, behind the gorgeous centre-mounted tachometer, and into a supportive and deeply bolstered sports seat. The 6-speed manual shifter takes centre stage, and the dash-mounted instrument pods are all angled towards the driver for a cockpit-like feel.
The cabin is a bit more cramped and uninviting for larger drivers, though. Once seated, room for average sized folks is highly adequate by sports-car standards, and numerous bins, pockets, cubbies and covered compartments provide ample opportunity to keep your things organized on the go. The trunk, though shallow and small, will accept a week’s worth of groceries or a few bits of luggage with ease, too. Given the exterior look, which sees the 370Z wearing its skin more tightly than a Kim Kardashian in a uni-tard, the cabin could get away with being more cramped.
Comparing the 2016 Nissan 370Z Enthusiast Coupe
Cross shop the 370Z against comparable models like the Scion FR-S, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and the new Ford Mustang EcoBoost -- which is probably the biggest performance threat to the 370Z that I’ve driven yet. If you’re test-driving any of the above, be sure to drive them all. Performance is getting cheaper and cheaper these days, and this segment is a great place to be shopping.