Enthusiasts will consider the rear-wheel-drive 2014 Nissan 370Z a pure sports car, defined by a robust engine, laser-precise steering, track-caliber agility and a race-inspired 2-passenger cockpit. It's a formula shared by many world-class sports coupes, but the Z is available at a fraction of the price. For that reason, some call it a poor man's track toy. In other words, you can enjoy real sports car performance without going broke.
For those who prefer their high-speed escapades with a dose of vitamin D, there's the open-top 370Z Roadster. It brings virtually the same level of athleticism as the coupe but with the benefit of a retractable fabric roof that can be dropped in just 20 seconds.
If the standard 370Z isn't powerful or sticky enough, buyers have the choice of the even edgier 370Z Nismo. It offers greater firepower from under the hood, a much firmer suspension, upgraded brakes, aero body enhancements and larger wheels. If track days are your cup of tea, the Nismo Z is an excellent choice.
What's New for 2014?
Changes for 2014 are limited to the Nismo, which receives a number of exterior and interior styling enhancements.
What We Like
Powerful engine; responsive handling; strong brakes; well-crafted interior; excellent performance
What We Don't
Poor rear visibility; excessive tire and road noise; buzzy engine when approaching redline; very limited cargo space
The 2014 Nissan 370Z is motivated by a 3.7-liter V6 producing 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. This engine is managed by either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 7-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The 370 Nismo uses a revised version of the same V6 engine, with output bumped to 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. The Nismo comes only with the manual transmission and SynchroRev Match.
Fuel economy for the 370Z is 18 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy with the manual and 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the automatic. The Roadster yields 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the automatic and 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the manual. The Nismo yields 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with either transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 370Z coupe is available in base, Touring and Nismo models, while the Roadster is offered in base and Touring only.
The 370Z Coupe ($30,800) includes Intelligent Key with push-button start, heated power outside mirrors, power windows, power locks, rear window defroster, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, steering wheel audio controls, HID headlamps and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack.
The 370Z Roadster ($42,280) adds a power retractable soft-top with glass rear window and power top operation via the Intelligent Key remote fob.
The 370Z Touring ($36,080) adds leather and synthetic suede seats, a power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, 4-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, 240-watt 6-speaker Bose audio, Bluetooth, HomeLink, a rear cargo cover and aluminum trimmed pedals.
The 370Z Touring Roadster ($44,980) includes all the features of the Touring plus the power soft-top.
The 370Z Nismo ($43,830) adds a more powerful engine, 19-in RAYS wheels, a 6-speed manual transmission with rev matching technology, exterior and interior cosmetic upgrades and an extended front nose with integrated chin spoiler.
An automatic transmission adds $1,300 to the bottom line and is offered on all but the Nismo trim.
Options for the 370Z include an Aerodynamic Package, which adds a rear spoiler and front wind deflector, and the Sport Package, which features a limited-slip rear differential, upgraded brakes, rear spoiler and lightweight RAYS 19-in wheels. Standalone options include a rearview camera and Nissan navigation.
Safety features for the 370Z Coupe, Roadster and Nismo include ABS, stability control, active head restraints and six airbags -- front, side and head curtain. Since the Roadster has no roof, its curtain airbags are deployed from the top of the door frame.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash tested the 370Z.
Behind the Wheel
Thanks to its strong engine and quick-shifting transmissions, the 2014 Nissan 370Z provides an abundance of power and acceleration. There's no shortage of straight-line performance here. The Z will impress you both off the line and on the open road. And with the SynchroRev Match feature, the performance experience is deftly elevated.
But the real magic happens when the Z's sport-tuned suspension is put to the paces at high speeds through tight corners. Whether on sharp canyon switchbacks or a super-curvy racetrack, this car exhibits gobs of grip and virtually no body lean. Its blend of agility and balance inspires tremendous confidence. Push the Z extra hard and the stability control will likely step in to spoil the fun, but this system can be shut off if drivers really want to test the limits. What they will learn is that those limits are not easily reached. The 370Z Roadster's driving experience is about the same as the coupe but with a lot more wind in the hair.
The Nismo takes the performance factor up a notch. This model is actually more appropriate for a track than for normal roads, as it's rigid for everyday driving. There's not much sense in buying one unless you have the time and inclination for weekend trips to the track.
Aside from its commendable sporting performance, the regular Z is still a fine car for the daily commute. Its ride is compliant enough to get you where you're going comfortably.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Camaro -- The Camaro is not as nimble or as track-capable as the 370Z, but it's the more muscular straight-line performer.
Audi TT -- The TT has a better balance of ride and handling and a more sophisticated overall package, but the 370Z has more cornering prowess and grip. Both offer extremely precise steering.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe -- The Genesis and the Z are both competent sports cars. However, the Genesis has more refinement for everyday driving. The 370Z is a sharper handler, and it's better equipped for twisty roads and track-style motoring.
Both the coupe and the convertible deliver excellent performance at a reasonable price. We suggest you go with the 7-speed automatic, which still allows you to choose gears manually when the mood strikes. The Touring trim's more upscale presentation and wider array of amenities beat the base model's stripped-down interior. The Nismo is just too hardcore for everyday use, but the optional Sport Package brings the Z closer to Nismo caliber without the harsh ride.