Test Drive: 2009 Nissan 370Z
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Story and photos by David Haueter

Most of the press and media coverage thrown Nissan's way this year has been focused on the GT-R, so it's been easy to miss the new 370Z unless you were looking for it. After several years of selling the 350Z, which was always a favorite of sports car buyers on a budget, the 370Z carries over the same layout and design but brings dramatic improvements in many areas. It's still rear-drive with a V6, but power is up to 332hp from the 3.7-liter V6 and the car is shorter, wider and stiffer than the 350Z. Nissan also managed to avoid a weight gain from the previous 350Z, which is more the exception than the norm in today's market. The engine and driver both also sit lower than in the 350Z, which helps keep the center of gravity low.
Read through the spec on the 370Z, and it seems like it was made for the track. The engine is direct-injected with Iridium-tipped spark plugs (Iridium is the most corrosion-resistant metal known, but is difficult to machine or work with), the driveshaft is made from carbon-fiber composite, and stiffness is improved with a strut tower and underbody V-brace. The doors, hood and trunk are made from aluminum, which helped Nissan keep the weight down, and suspension layout is double-wishbones in the front and multi-link at the rear. The fact that a base model 370Z still starts at under $30,000 is pretty impressive considering some of the development and technology that went into this car.
Our test car had the Sport package, which bumps the price up by $3,000 but gets you Nissan sport Brakes, a viscous limited slip diff, 19" Rays wheels, a SynchoRev match gearbox (more on that in a moment) and front and rear spoilers. The brakes measure 14" in front and are mated to 2-piston calipers, and are 13.8" at the rear, up from 12.6" front and rear in the stock model. SynchroRev match basically does your heel-toeing for you, using electronics to anticipate when the shift is being made and blipping the throttle to match engine speed to road speed. With the Sport package, price on the 370Z is $32,930, which undercuts the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru WRX STI, and is priced competitively to the Mazda RX-8 with the R3 package. Of course, those three competitors all have back seats, but that could be a disadvantage depending on your outlook.
I happened to schedule the 370Z during the same week I was driving up to Mosport for the ALMS race, so had a lot of seat time in the car. I'm sure there's people out there that don't like the way the 370Z looks, but I didn't cross paths with any of them during my week with the car. I felt like I was driving a Ferrari around the Mosport paddock and parking areas over the weekend at the track with the attention this car got. It was turning heads everywhere, and I often had to wait for admirers to finish looking at it or taking pictures of it before I could get in and drive off. I'm sure the vibrant blue paint and Rays wheels helped draw attention to the car, but it is very cool looking.
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