During the 370Z’s nine-year tenure on sale in the U.S., we’ve tested several iterations of Nissan’s two-seat sports car. But this is the first time we’ve gotten ahold of a base model without any performance-enhancing options, which also made it the slowest Nissan 370Z we’ve tested.
Defanged base models of high-powered sports coupes have been around since the original Mustang and Camaro, so it shouldn’t surprise us that Nissan knows how to play the game, too. With a starting price just a shade over 30 grand, the base Z allows Nissan fans to gain all the looks—and a hint of performance—of the full-zoot model.
Power for our 2017 Nissan 370Z coupe comes from the same 3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve VQ V-6 making 332-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque as other non-NISMO models, and it’s backed by a six-speed manual transmission sans the available SynchroRev Match feature. NISMO models make 350 hp and 276 lb-ft.
At the drag strip, the base 2017 Nissan 370Z reached 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 102.7 mph. We’ve tested eight other 370Z models, including two convertibles and two NISMO models, since it arrived for the 2009 model year. In testing, past models reached 60 mph in 4.75.1 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 13.313.6 seconds at 102.9107.2 mph.
Our tester stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet. Previous models stopped in 102114 feet.
In our handling tests, the base 2017 370Z lapped the figure eight in 25.9 seconds at 0.69 g lateral average and pulled 0.89 g lateral average around the skidpad. In comparison, past models lapped the figure eight in 24.725.9 seconds at 0.700.78 g and pulled between 0.91 g and 1.01 g around the skidpad.
So what gives? Despite no horsepower or transmission changes, why is our 2017 Nissan 370Z so much slower than earlier testers? It all comes down to two things: lack of a viscous limited-slip differential and narrower wheels with higher-profile tires.
Walton went on to critique the shifter. “The 2-3 upshift is pretty heavy, though the gate is accurate, and I never missed it,” he said. “However, the 3-2 downshift was very balky, and the pedal placement could be better for heel-toe downshifts. This car does not have the automated matched-rev downshift program.”
All these stats leads us back to Ayapana’s original thought during acceleration testing: How would the Nissan 370Z perform “with Pilot Super Sport” or other high-performance tires? Could the 370Z beat the less expensive Camaro V6 ILE or keep up with the V-8 muscle cars with the right tire? Possibly. Could the right set of tires help the base 370Z match or beat the more expensive NISMO model? Also possible. We theorize a base Z with some sticky rubber could outperform the NISMO car for 10 grand less.
But we hope Nissan brings out the next-generation Z sooner than later. Some rumors suggest a new Z concept could make its debut at the next Tokyo auto show with a production model ready for the 2019 model year, but nothing has been confirmed by Nissan. After a decade on the market, the Nissan 370Z is due for a much needed re-TIRE-ment.