Sunny-side Up

Can a car lift your mood? Can a colour lift your mood? For me the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes’! So my week with the cute Nissan 370Z Coupe N-SPORT in Chicane Yellow was filled with smiles, both from me and other motorists on the road.

The Nissan 370Z N-SPORT edition in Chicane Yellow.

The 370Z is the sixth generation ‘Z’ car from Nissan, it was released in 2009 and has remained relatively unchanged since then. Its heritage dates back to what was known in Australia as the Datsun 240Z that was released nearly 50 years ago.

With the rapid rate of technology change we have seen since 2009, this lack of development on the part of the 370Z may sound like a bad thing. For some it probably is, but for me I thoroughly enjoyed ‘driving’ a car for a change.

You probably think I’m daft, I drive cars every day so what do I mean about having to ‘drive’ a car? Well the 370Z was like a time warp, taking me back to when I first got my license and this was certainly part of the charm of the 370Z for me.

Three pedals and a manual handbrake. Is this the 1990s?

Firstly it was a manual, a beautiful short shifting six speed manual gearbox, something that is becoming an increasingly rare find in any sports car this day and age. It may be slower changing gears manually, but it is so much more enjoyable. The 370Z will auto blip the throttle for you on downshift, but you can turn this feature off if you prefer.

Secondly was the distinct lack of digital controls and options for setting up your vehicle. The speedo was analogue with no digital read out, meaning I really had to concentrate looking at the speedo, so not to attract even more attention to myself and the car; something which is quite hard to achieve in a bright yellow sports car.

Those three gauges in the centre of the dash obviously aren’t for your boost pressure, they house a digital clock, battery voltage and engine oil temperature gauge. As far as options for setting up the 370Z, there aren’t any. You can’t adjust the suspension, but this didn’t bother me as the ride was a nice balance between soft and firm.

The 370Z V6 engine.

Lastly the engine is naturally aspirated. A 3.7 litre V6 aluminium-alloy double overhead cam engine with maximum power of 245kW @ 7,000 rpm, meaning you have to really have to chase it all the way to the redline of 7,500rpm to extract the most from the 370Z. There is a shift light just before the red line to prompt you to select the next gear. There are no official 0-100km/h times, but if you ask Google it will tell you that low to mid 5 second times are what you should expect from the 370Z.

From the inside the engine sounds good, but it doesn’t have the pops and bangs that would make it even more enjoyable. From the outside though it sounds quite flat and tinny under hard acceleration. I discovered reading the spec sheet that the 370Z has ‘Active Sound Enhancement’ to make the car sound better on the inside; something which is a bit disappointing.

Official fuel consumption figures for the 370Z are 10.6L/100km  and for my week with in the yellow smile maker I achieved 12.7L/100km. The 370Z can run on 95 RON, but for optimal performance Nissan recommends the use of 98 RON.

My name is ‘Captain Z’ and my super power is time travel.

Apart from cruise control there are not many other driving aides. No lane keep assist or active cruise control, just your eyes and brain to keep everything on the straight and narrow. I do think not having all these safety features actually makes you a more aware driver and although I have said that having this technology is nice, I also think it makes us lazier drivers.

The 370Z does have a rear view camera with predictive path technology, which makes parking easier and reduces the risk of damaging those beautiful black alloy wheels. Other standard safety features include ABS, electronic brake distribution, traction control and vehicle dynamic control. Plus front airbags, side-impact airbags and roof mounted curtain airbags.

The 370Z does have enough technology to make it liveable in our increasingly connected world. The 7” touch screen has sat nav with traffic management warnings. If anything the sat nav was a little too keen to tell me about traffic that was 50km away from me. It has Bluetooth for phone and audio connection with steering wheel controls for both. The Bose 8 speaker sound system with two subwoofers offered good audio quality and you can store music in the car with a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive or connect your iPod via the USB port.

The sun is the almost as bright as this 370Z.

The seats are cloth, with a combination of electric and manual adjustment; they are comfortable, nicely waist hugging and heated. The steering column is manually adjustable and the whole dash moves with the steering wheel. I did like this feature, but you could only move the steering column up and down and not in and out. The steering wheel and gear stick were bound in two tone yellow and black leather, which was nice to touch, but the yellow was already showing signs of getting dirty even after only 700km on the clock.

Storage space behind the passenger seat.

The cabin is a nice size, but there is quite a bit of road noise that infiltrates it. There are lot of small storage cubbies; one cup holder in the centre console and bottle holders in both doors with storage big enough for your handbag behind the seats. The boot is quite shallow with the cargo blind in place. There is a child restraint anchorage point for a rear tether car seat, but I would assume you would have to get the dealer to deactivate the passenger side airbag in order to use it?

18″ Black Alloy Wheels and signature 370Z side skirt decals on this N-SPORT special edition.

The 370Z I drove was a special N-SPORT edition, which comes with 18″ Black Alloy Wheels, sports inspired racing stripe and signature 370Z side skirt decals, and premium cloth seat trim with yellow interior accents. It costs $48,490 plus on road costs. Yes you read correctly $48.5k for a V6, manual, rear wheel drive brand new sports car with a 3 year/100,000km warranty and 3 year 24 hour road side assistance!

The 370Z may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but there is still so much joy to be had from it that I can’t understand why there are not more of them on the road. It’s a cute two seat sports car, with enough power to keep you interested and handling that won’t break your body. If you want to feel the joy of driving again for less than $50k, I recommend you go and test one for yourself.

For more information about the Nissan 370Z contact your local Nissan dealer.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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