2013 Nissan 370Z NISMO - FROM $43,020
Though it faces newfound competition, the 2013 Nissan 370Z still holds plenty of appeal as an affordable sports car.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Nissan 370Z gets a slightly different front end design that includes new LED running lights. The Sport package gets revised suspension dampers, while the Nismo 370Z can now be had with some of the optional features available on the Touring trim.
Sports cars usually come attached to scary, unreachable price tags. The 2013 Nissan 370Z is an exception, however. It offers thrilling performance, precision handling and muscular styling without causing heart palpitations when you read the price sticker. This has been the Z-car philosophy for decades, and as the car's competitors have come and gone, the Z continues a fine tradition of providing driving fun at reasonable prices.
And fun it most definitely is. The Z's 332-horsepower V6 produces straight-line performance on par with V8-powered American muscle coupes like the Ford Mustang, while its smaller dimensions and superior handling help deliver an altogether more dynamic and involving driving experience. Stepping up to the Sport package not only brings along a limited-slip differential and upgraded brakes, but also the Z's real ace in the hole for the sports car game as well. This would be the SynchroRev Match feature for the six-speed manual transmission, which automatically blips the throttle when downshifting to perfectly match engine and wheel speed. It'll make you feel (and sound) like a professional race driver. (We wish more cars came with such a feature, including Zs without the Sport package.)
The 370Z is also notable for more than just its dynamic talents. Surprisingly, the interior is luxurious and the ride is comfortable, so long road trips are possible. The number of available features is also quite impressive, and there really isn't that much separating a loaded 370Z Touring from the mechanically similar 2013 Infiniti G coupe and convertible besides their extra seats and trunk space. Only an abundance of road noise and dearth of rear visibility take away from what is a pleasantly livable sports car.
We've touched on some of the 370Z's competitors, but none are truly the same in nature. The Z roadster lines up pretty well on paper with two-seat drop tops from Germany, but is much cheaper and sadly quite simply not as nice. The cars that perhaps come closest to the Z's value sport coupe recipe are the all-new 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ twins. They don't offer anywhere near the same straight-line performance as the 370Z, but they are monumentally talented around corners. They also cost considerably less than the Z, while being more practical and capable of drawing just as much (if not more) attention than the 370Z.
Don't be surprised if future Z cars follow a similar, back-to-basics path as the "Toyabaru" twins, but that doesn't take away from the 2013 Nissan 370Z's range of performance talents or its surprisingly user-friendly nature.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan 370Z sports car is available as a hatchback coupe or soft-top convertible. The coupe is available in base, Touring and Nismo trim levels, while the convertible ("Roadster" in Nissan-speak) is base and Touring only.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, an eight-way manual driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel (with corresponding moving gauges) and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Roadster differs only by its power-operated soft top.
The Touring trim adds heated power seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), leather/faux-suede upholstery, a rear cargo cover (coupe), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. The Roadster gets heated and ventilated seats.
The Touring's Navigation package adds a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, real-time traffic and weather, Bluetooth streaming audio, a rearview camera and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Both the base and Touring trims are available with a Sport package, which adds a limited-slip differential, 19-inch forged alloy wheels, upgraded brakes and suspension dampers, the SynchroRev Match manual transmission, a rear spoiler and a front chin spoiler.
The Nismo 370Z coupe gets a more powerful V6 along with the same or upgraded versions of the Sport package items. Cosmetically it gets unique front and rear fascias, a larger rear wing and special Nismo interior trim details. It is otherwise similarly equipped to a base 370Z, though the optional Bose package adds the Touring's Bose sound system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and auto-dimming mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Nissan 370Z base and Touring models come standard with a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 332 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. Optional transmissions include a seven-speed automatic with shift paddles on the steering wheel and the SynchroRev Match manual transmission (included with the Sport package). The latter automatically blips the throttle during downshifts to deliver smoother, quicker shifts with better dynamic control of the chassis, which not only maximizes performance but also makes you sound like a certified pro driver.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 370Z coupe with the Sport package accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a quick 5.1 seconds, while the Roadster did it in 5.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the coupe is 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with the manual, and 19/26/22 with the automatic. The Roadster's fuel economy is slightly worse at 17/24/20 with the manual and 18/25/21 with the automatic.
The 370Z Nismo model has a specially tuned version of the same V6 engine that produces 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match is the only transmission offered.
Every 2013 Nissan 370Z comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control and side airbags. The coupe gets side curtain airbags, while the Roadster's side airbags extend upward for head protection.
In Edmunds brake testing, a coupe with the Sport package's upgraded brakes stopped from 60 mph in an outstanding 101 feet -- about the same as the Nissan GT-R. A Roadster with the Sport package took only 5 more feet to stop.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Nissan 370Z's interior features an attractive design and quality materials, especially in the upscale Touring models with their leather and faux suede upholstery. Seats are comfortable and supportive, and despite the lack of a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel, the driving position is near ideal. One downside to the car's styling is that its thick roof pillars make for limited visibility out the back.
Those who opt for the Roadster won't have long to wait when they want to catch some rays, as the fully lined soft top folds itself neatly under a color-matched hard tonneau cover in roughly 20 seconds. As in most sports cars, luggage space is scarce, with just 6.9 cubic feet of storage under the coupe's hatchback and a slightly smaller than average 4.2 cubic feet in the convertible's trunk.
The 2013 Nissan 370Z delivers all the thrills you'd expect from a true sports car. The standard sport-tuned suspension delivers excellent handling and a surprisingly smooth ride. The Sport package's firmer suspension and bigger wheels make things less comfortable, but they do offer sharper handling. The same can be said of the Nismo Z but to a much higher degree. Regardless of how the 370Z is equipped, though, we've noticed it suffers from pervasive road noise that severely limits the Z's appeal as a road trip car.
The 3.7-liter V6 manages to deliver grin-inducing acceleration while still remaining tame enough for tooling around town. Both transmissions are equally likable, and the SynchroRev Match's blip of the throttle on downshifts is bound to make you feel like a driving champion. One downside to this powertrain is that it just doesn't sound very good, with a notably coarse nature at high rpm that's very much at odds with the Z's sporting mission.