- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 08 February 2012 14:04, Updated 16 February 2012 05:17
Sports car owners generally don’t have image problems, just mid-life crises.
People notice sports cars. They look sharp, go fast and make noise.
Whether they notice who’s behind the wheel is another thing altogether, but I would suggest they’re not the popular choice in the underachievers anonymous group.
The top seller in the two-seater segment is the Nissan 370Z, which has had a bit of a makeover.
It has kept the fishhook-shaped lights front and rear but it has a slightly shorter and slightly wider body.
It’s powerful, handles well and sounds good. What more could you want?
OK, so you can’t fit a set of golf clubs and a passenger – you have to choose between them – and visibility, yeah, you might also want some more of that.
But apart from that, it is big fun.
The body has a simple straight bar behind the two seats and an underbody “V” because sports cars are all about power-to-weight ratios and the lighter the car the faster it goes. Or at least that’s the theory.
But with lightness comes problems with rigidity, which is needed to keep the car stable so it doesn’t handle like a bowl of creme brulee.
The lightness has been achieved in the 370Z through aluminium doors and bonnet and it has an aluminium alloy 3.7 litre V6.
The whole car weighs just 1515 kilograms, 50 kilograms lighter than its predecessor.
The engine achieves 245kW of power at 7000rpm, an increase of 15kW, and maximum torque of 363Nm at 5200rpm, 3Nm more.
All this goes through a seven-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels and one of the joys of the car is that all the power is almost always available. Just tap the throttle and away you go.
The 370Z will set you back $78,790 plus on-road costs for the Roadster, or $75,790 for a six-speed manual. The coupe is almost $7000 cheaper for both options.
It gets 10.4l/100km (combined) and goes from 0 to 100km/h in just over 5 seconds.
The four-wheel independent suspension helps it achieve fantastic grip in the corners, with good feeling coming through the steering wheel that inspires confidence in the handling.
Of course, the suspension is set fairly hard but it’s not uncomfortably solid, and the Brembo brakes pull you up faster than a big tax bill.
When you’re pushing the car in its automatic mode, it hits the rev limiter and changes up rather than doing it well before the dashboard light goes on, which is satisfying and better than some other more expensive cars.
Switching to manual, the changes are smooth on the way up through the gears but feel a little less precise going the other way.
Inside the cabin, the sports car feel is enhanced by the low bucket seats that have an anti-slip material on the main surfaces and are shaped to hold you comfortably in place during some “active” driving.
The centre console and doors are shaped to help during hard cornering.
The steering wheel is attached to the instrument cluster so you don’t have to choose between wheel position and seeing the dials. I wish that was more common.
Nissan has added a reversing camera to deal with some of the massive blind spots but reversing in crowded car parks can still be a bit of a lottery.
Behind the seats is a low shelf with two small indents that may be big enough to hold your girlfriend’s handbag or your boyfriend’s six-pack.
A big sub-woofer set inside the rim of the spare tyre plays off against the roar of the engine.
While the high level of road noise is a little annoying, you can set the stereo volume to increase with the car’s speed. That way you can really make your presence felt.
A cute touch is the Z emblems on the side panels are set on the indicator lights, so it looks as if you’re summoning Zorro every time you turn a corner.
An improvement in this model is that it has a cargo blind to keep prying eyes out of your business and it has an easy to use touch screen and a 9.3gb hard drive so you can amuse the neighbours with the latest in “doof doof” music at full volume.
There’s a USB for your music player and it has bluetooth phone connectivity.
If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, make it red and 370Z.