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Old 09-04-2009, 12:06 PM
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Default StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

Let's talk about the heel toe. No, I'm not talking about the dance- I'm talking about rev matching downshifts by using your heel to hit the gas pedal while also using your toe to hit the brakes. This process, if done right, is seamless because the RPMs fall right where they need to be in the next gear.

But it's not easy. I've always felt it makes driving rewarding though, because when you get it right it makes you feel like you accomplish something. It makes you feel like you're really driving. It almost makes you proud of the corners you conquer and the distance you cover.

In comparison, that's not to say that modern dual clutch sequential manual transmissions are unimpressive or boring. On the contrary, they're very impressive and in their own way and a lot of fun. It's like a bow & arrow vs a gun. The feat of not focusing your attention on the transmission while commanding perfectly executed, rev matched downshifts is like going to the range with a perfectly clean firearm and putting dozens of rounds downrange, all center of mass, in mere seconds. Less involved than a bow & arrow? Sure. Boring? Hardly. Anyone who would say so simply hasn't done it themselves.

Of course, as it is with the bow & arrow vs the gun, there are still those today who enjoy and even prefer the old, even given the new. Up until now I thought that the issue was as simple as that, and I thought I knew where I stood in the whole affair. Then came the 370Z and its syncro-rev match system.




The new 370Z is an important car to Nissan. It's predecessor, the 350Z, was a massive success. Nissan sold well over a hundred thousand 350Zs in the 6 years or so that it was on the global market. At a time where people were questioning Nissan's commitment to sporting vehicles, and the real market for sports cars as a whole, the 350Z proved to be a hit. It did so while carrying the hopes and aspirations of Nissan enthusiasts who, in truth, had little else in the 2003 pin their hopes and dreams on.

The 350Z brought this hope via a new generation design and a fundamentally new platform. First seen in the G35 sedan, Nissan created the FM platform to take its ultra-reliable 3.5L V6 engine and mate it to a RWD drivetrain. They then borrowed from the R34 Skyline's suspension setup and included features like ripple control as well as the ability to run relatively low offset, large wheels and tires. This was all done to improve the driving experience and cater to the desires of enthusiasts. While it was a great package, and more than enough to re-establish Nissan in the reasonably-priced-sports-car market, not all saw it as perfection.

The first complaint was that the 350Z, at 3,300+ lbs, was too heavy. The second was that with 275hp, it was underpowered. While Nissan slowly upped the horesepower over the years, it was more than half way through its life before factory power levels got to the point that people were hoping to see from the beginning. As a result, despite the fact that the car was significantly less expensive than the 300ZX it replaced, and offered a very competitive platform for performance, some in the enthusiast community never seemed able to get past their reservations.

It seemed like Nissan didn't care. I suspect that if you asked them, they would have used their sales figures and comparisons with other similarly priced cars to justify their position. I always agreed with that, but most never could. Especially when, over the years, Nissan progressively added even more weight to the car and continually made it more refined, taking the edge off of its naturally rough character.

But then, just as the 350Z progressed toward the end of its development cycle, Nissan did the unexpected. With the Porsche Cayman and Boxster offering only slightly better performance for about twice the cost, Nissan decided to pin the Cayman as its benchmark competitor and redesigned the Z. In the process, they listened to feedback from their most skeptical enthusiasts and did something you rarely see in the industry: they made a new car that's lighter, more powerful, and more potent than the car it would replace.

The new 370Z tips the scales at 3,200lbs and packs about 340 horsepower from a 3.7 liter V6 mounted in an updated FM platform.


image credit nissan motor co

With this new Z, Nissan aimed to improve handling, braking, and overall acceleration - not just in a straight line- but everywhere. They did this by making changes in the most effective ways possible - by cutting weight and improving the chassis.


image credit nissan motor co

They also worked to make the car easier to drive fast and added a new feature - syncro-revmatching engine control software. This announcement was one that many -myself included- saw on the news releases and said 'uh oh'.

It's not that I doubted Nissan's abilities.. it's that , well....I thought that even if they did it right (a big "if" in my mind), it would take something away from the driving experience. I thought that somehow, the system would need to always be turned off. In the first reviews on the 370Z, one of the first things I looked for was to see if the system could be turned off, without even reading the driver's impressions.

So what is this syncro-revmatch? In short, the S-mode on the 6 speed 370Z will do the heel toe dance for you. Every time you shift. It works by automatically revving the engine by exactly the correct amount whenever you clutch in and put the stick in the gate for a lower gear. That way, by the time you take out the clutch the RPMs are exactly where they need to be and you've performed a perfect rev matched downshift. On paper, I wasn't convinced this system would be very good because I was skeptical of its speed and accuracy. Furthermore, even if it was quick, I was fairly sure that it would not be as fun as doing it myself.

Combine this with talk that the 370Z felt almost "too stable", and comments that it felt like the GT-R, and I started to get concerned for the character of the new Z. A Z that's not fun and raw? A GT-R without a GT-R drivetrain? Yeeeah no thanks.

I started to worry that Nissan had went off and ruined a good thing.



Well, after spending an afternoon driving Nissan's new 370Z in Orlando, all my worries have vanished.

If these new track oriented dual clutch transmissions are like the gun, and the traditional manual transmission is low the bow, then the transmission in the 370Z is a crossbow. It's not a gun, but it is more efficient than a normal bow, and also fun in its own right. The key thing to understand about the new syncro rev match system is that it's fast. The instant you put the gear shift in the gate ofor the next gear, the ECU immediately peggs the engine RPMs. This is possible because 1. the car, like most other modern sports cars, is drive by wire and the ecu controls the throttle and 2. when it happens, the engine is fully disconnected from the drivetrain, allowing the computer to rev it really fast. When coming to a stop, the system works beautifully and suddenly you realize how much mental thought and work the heel toe process is, and how much faster you can shift on your own now. It becomes a scary and wonderful thought at the same time because, as an enthusiast, you don't want to give up great driving technique, but at the same time you realize the new system is not only 'better' but it might be just as much fun...

This can be said for pretty much the entire car.

Walking up to it, you can't help but notice the bulk of mass it's design conveys. Indeed, for a car priced in the $30,000-$40,000 range, it carries tremendous presence. I've seen a few of them on the roads and each time I saw one it stood out to me, no matter which angle I was viewing it from. The hips on the rear of the car borderline on the erotic while the front is very chiseled. Lets be clear: this car has body, and lots of it, especially relative to its peers. It's a Vida Guerra in a room of Halle Berrys. The design details are fantastic as well - from the diffuser reflector to the Z side light that illuminates, to the indented roof, and even the headlights. I love it.







Once inside the car, the first thing I noticed was how much Nissan has improved the interior.


image credit nissan motor co

The biggest weakness of the 350Z is no more. The new interior is a very pleasant place to be. The materials are all soft and carry a quality feel. From behind the wheel, the feeling is doubly underlined: the gauges look phenomenal. The gauge pods look great as well, and everything looks better in real life than in pictures. I would attribute that to three things that pictures can't convey: depth, scale, and lighting. Yes it looks good in pics but in real life it looks better because Nissan has used that third dimension to give a very high quality feel to the gauges and layout of the interior. The lighting hits surfaces and highlights where Nissan's spent time to tweak the designs. From the needles and gauge backgrounds to the leather on top of the gauge pods, and the brushed aluminum edges around the cluster, it all works well. And when you take your eyes off of the gauges and look around, you still find yourself in a reasonably nice cabin, and it isn't obvious that Nissan saved any money at all on the interior of the 370Z.

With the door now closed and all systems on standby, I held the brake and pressed the engine ignition start button.

I'm not sure if exhaust tuning is expensive but if it is, I'll bet that's how Nissan was able to bring this car to market for the price they did. Sadly, the 370Z has lost that unique, elegant and at the same time sporting sounds of the 350Z and G35. While the 370 doesn't sound bad at all, and is deeper and angrier in a way, it just doesn't sound the same. Initial reactions are that this definitely isn't a positive thing but all things considered, should not be seen as a major negative.

On the road, the overall feel of the car wasn't quite what I'd expected. The new 370Z doesn't feel a lot lighter than the 350Z while you drive. In the greater automotive press, comparisons were drawn between this car and the GT-R. I've driven multiple 350Zs, owned a G35, driven multiple other G35s (including the G37), and own a GT-R. I don't see the massive similarities in feel they're referring to. Is it an overall step forward for the Z? Yes. But does it carry the same brutally serious, indestructable-on-the-road feel? No.

Maybe I was expecting a bit much, or maybe I was misreading what the press was talking about, but that was my gut feeling. Having said that, does this take anything away from the Z? Not really: While I admit that a more solid feeling from the chassis would have been great, I don't think the GT-R's character would have been fully appropriate. Being formal, you see, isn't always a positive thing. Sometimes being casual is more fun. To be sure though, the Z doesn't feel quite as informal as, say, an S2000. So to describe it in a sentence, the 370Z walks that line, whereas the GT-R and S2000 do not.

The quoted quarter mile numbers pin the Z in the low 13 second range. This has been widely stated and tested so I can't say that I doubt it. From behind the seat, it didn't really feel significantly faster than the outgoing Z. Maybe in this way the Z is similar to the GT-R? Neither feel quite as fast as you're told they actually are. Like the GT-R, it first seems hard to understand why. I think it likely has to do with the simple fact that the platform allows for more efficient driving due to features such as pedal layout, s-mode, and so on. This means that whereas before, you were so busy you didn't realize how fast you were accelerating, now you have (a little) more time -and spare brain cycles- to pay attention, making the acceleration seem slower.

I do believe the numbers that have been quoted though and, even though the 370 may not feel significantly faster, I'm very sure it can hold it's own against its contemporaries... and its competitors. In the real world, with deep corners, massive elevation changes, and sudden off camber transitions, a 370Z should be approached with caution.



The Take Away-

The 370 is a step up from the 350 in many ways, from refinement, to performance, to its fundamental platform. It's less edgy than prior Zs but more agile. It adds an aspect of easy-accessibility to its higher level of performance. It's genuinely good looking too, with a body that looks great from the factory and is likely to look stunning with work.

This car is legit. No, it doesn't have that tell tale VQ engine note, nor is it turbocharged, nor does it have a BMW badge, nor will it be the next Supra. But, it's an all around, high quality athlete. It's a great value too, especially in the lower trims at $30,000 and less, where you save a lot of money on things that won't make the car better (or faster). And, if what I've already seen in Japan is any indication, it's aftermarket will borderline on the insane. Whether or not Nissan's hit their Cayman mark, they've managed to pull out a crossbow in a segment still refining the bow and arrow. Yes, it's that good. You should expect big things from this car, and if you were impressed by tuned 350s, you've seen nothing yet.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:17 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

she look's sexy
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:19 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

nice ride......
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:03 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

give me one in black right NOW
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

BRAVO SON BRAVO
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Old 09-04-2009, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

Faairlady Z all the way bruh

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Old 09-05-2009, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

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Old 09-05-2009, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

Oh gosh..... Give me one in Black........ Or Red......... Red is my new favorite car color now.
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tekknikal View Post
It's a Vida Guerra in a room of Halle Berrys.
You are so right. I gotta cop one soon!
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: StreetSeen Review: Nissan 370Z

i want one...
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