Nissan’s Z cars have been around since the late 1960’s with the Datsun 240Z being introduced in 1969. Nissan subsequently introduced ever better affordable sports cars with the 280ZX and the 300ZX. Nissan couldn’t escape the financial troubles plaguing many auto manufacturers towards the end of the 20th century and after Renault bought a fairly large chunk of the Japanese manufacturer (44%) the 350Z was introduced to the market in 2002. Now in it’s sixth generation, the 370Z incorporates all of the modern day car’s electronic gadgets like touch screen navigation, quality sound system, seven speed auto box and combines it with a pedigree of racing car.
As a fan of the 350Z I was really excited when the opportunity presented itself to drive the 370Z. The 350Z had a reputation for road handling, reliability and performance, often modified and used for drifting in South Africa.
We immediately planned a weekend away which would include driving through some proper twisty roads between Johannesburg and God’s Window before we headed East towards Mozambique to our accommodation. While driving down the N4 I remembered a rather nice road I had traveled on many years earlier and we decided to try find the mountain pass that would provide Sunday cruisers, like us, a beautiful view.
We found a great road to drive up and down called Robber’s Pass on the R533 and the 370Z purred as it got to show off it’s road holding ability. Cars with long bonnets usually don’t offer the best visibility, then there’s the low seating position to further increase your blind spots but we found the seating in the 370Z made it easy to drive through the narrow roads and though the ground next to the road fell away steeply, we never felt in any danger as the 370Z is sure-footed and inspires confidence with it’s precise steering.
I strongly recommend you recon this road before trying to power through it no matter what car you take out this way as some parts are full of potholes and with more than one blind turn your safety is at risk if you overcook it. It will be worth it though.
We didn’t feel the need to turn off the traction control as the drive was exhilarating without letting the rear get loose on the tight and twisty roads but perhaps you have more talent or a helicopter on standby should you mess it up like Hammond. If time wasn’t an issue we may have turned around and done a few more runs on this stretch of road, we’ll definitely head out that way again one day.
If you think of low two-seater sports cars, often you imagine drivers literally unfolding themselves to get out, contorting, rolling and in the end getting out by putting their hands on the tarmac first, not in a 370Z. The electric seats are easily adjustable to make driving comfortable and with the doors positioned just perfectly so that there’s no gymnastics required to enter or exit. We found that the mundane boring roads just slipped by while we cruised in comfort, the climate control working efficiently to maintain a steady 22 degrees inside, while the outside world was cooking at 32 and more.
When you need to overtake the power is on tap and the motor roars into life with a quick blip or two on the paddle shift. If you decide to kick-down, the auto box drops the gears faster than our government dropped the Guptas on Valentine’s Day. The engine screams into life and take-off is imminent. The engine notes are more to our liking with the paddle shift method but some will enjoy the ‘all hell’s about to break loose’ scream of the six cylinder engine as 245kw are unleashed all at once.
The navigation system features a really useful distance to turn notification which we thought should be standard on all nav systems. As you approach a turn the system shows the distance from 400m to exactly when you should turn, taking the guess work out of choosing the right road in some instances.
We really enjoyed the Music Box, a 9.3 GigaByte hard drive storage facility that lets you record music so you don’t need to bring your whole CD collection. Playback is via a top Bose 8 speaker system that should cater for all except the home build enthusiasts. Bluetooth, USB plug-in for iPod, CD player and rear view camera all feature on the built in screen with easy to use menu and selection wheel.
Storage space, as you would expect, is at a premium but you’ll be able to fit your golf clubs, or overnight bags for two, or a week’s worth of grocery shopping for two. The loading bay is quite wide with easy access but not very deep. Behind the driver’s seat you’ll find an extra compartment to keep some valuables out of sight.
In conclusion, the Nissan 370Z is a great car suitable to most people who don’t need more than 2 seats or a large luggage capacity but it’s best suited to those who like to live in the red. A little bit of adrenaline will go a long way in this well specced, well balanced, very capable two-seater sports car. We absolutely loved it.
Nissan 370Z from R 669 900
Audi TT Coupe from R 578 500
Jaguar F-Type Coupe R 914 202
Porsche Boxster 718 from R 884 000
Porsche Cayman from R 870 000