[singlepic id=558 w=320 h=240 float=left]By Cor Steenstra, Photography Christopher Jones
The latest guise of Nissan’s Z-car, the 370Z, showed up looking smaller, more compact than what we were used to from the previous versions. The clear intention was to make a closer link to the original 240Z from the early 70s, but when looking at those originals in the flesh, they appear to be a lot sleeker and more stretched than this current car.
The previous version was a clear design statement both in overall shape as well as in the execution of its design details. To make a statement like that poses a problem of how to succeed that. The obvious way would be to improve on short comings and enhance the positives, massage it to perfection as Porsche does to its model range.
Nissan chose a different route, clearly, overcoming what was not really an issue at all like reducing the overall length of the vehicle, and replacing clean design treatments by gimmicky overstyled items like the front and rear light units, and ruining the innovative section leading to the green house by an over-section from the hood. All in all massaged to imperfection.
We drove the base version, but on the interior you could not really tell apart from the obvious lack of the center info panel, replaced by a huge shallow storage area with a lid that in open position is ridiculously in the way of anything and everything. Not even a simple yet clever hinge was invested in this. Ah well. At least it was not made out of that cheap painted silver plastic that adorned the previous car.
Seating position, controls, instruments and general look of the interior we really good, and the new carvings on the bulge of the hood made the car look powerful from the drivers’ seat. The performance with a 6 speed manual linked to the new 3.7 liter V6 was very sporty indeed. We had just returned the Dodge Challenger RT and this baby was clearly faster in performance. Sadly, with this one we barely turned heads. Only a few women in parking lots approached us, unlike the flock of men wherever we went with the Dodge.
Is this a girls’ car? Is that what Nissan was aiming for? I would like to have seen it as a nimble track suit for some well needed flexing of automotive muscle, but sadly the looks don’t match the capabilities any longer.