The Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech is the definition of predictable excellence in a sports car

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Matthew DeBord/BI

I won’t beat around the bush here: at just over $46,000, the 2017 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech we recently tested represents an incredible value for the money in sports cars.

You just have to get over how boringly excellent it is.

The legendary “Z” cars have been around for decades. The very first 240Z, badged as a Datsun, hit the streets in the US back when Led Zeppelin was releasing its first album in 1969. The whole Z-car idea – affordable, dependable performance in a 2 seater – seemed to have run its course with the 300ZX. Production was halted briefly in the late 1990s before Nissan revived it with the 350Z. The 370Z Nismo Tech (Nismo is Nissan’s high-performance division) that we borrowed is the most recent iteration of the Z’s rebooting. Nothing has really changed in terms of the basic Z-car pitch: we got a relatively powerful V6 – straight motor, no turbos or superchargers – a 6-speed manual transmission, and a fastback design where a hatch provides a decent amount of cargo space and the lack of back seat aims for sports-car credibility.

The 370Z does its thing and does it well. So has it always been, and so shall it always be.

Here’s what it was like to enjoy that level of solid execution:


Our 2017 Nisan 370Z Nismo Tech landed at our New Jersey test-car HQ wearing — and we’re not making this up — a “Solid Red” paint job. That name set a tone for entire car.

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The look is nothing new for 2017. Some folks complain that the Z’s design is dated, and they might have a point. If that’s a problem, it’s made worse by the existence of the stonking GTR supercar as the Z’s superior in the Nissan hierarchy.

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“Godzilla” is where the enthusiast part is a Nissan these days.

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Hollis Johnson

But truthfully, I still dig me a Z car. The 280Z was an object of some desire in my youth. You know, the one with a t-top!

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We’ve got the familiar fastback hatch and some beefy rear haunches.

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There’s a integrated spoiler on the hatch.

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The rear tail lights echo the headlights, and you get a dash of Nismo badging.

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Nismo on the front end, also.

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So how much stuff can you get in that hatch?

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Not a lot. But it isn’t bad. I was able to pick up a pal from the airport and get his rolling suitcase and an extra bag in with no problem. For weekend getaway duty, the 370Z has you covered.

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There are some Z’s on this baby. But it isn’t like Zorro was here.

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In fact, I think there’s more Nismo branding than Z-ness, such as on the floor mats.

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The big Z is on the steering wheel.

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Up close.

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The instrument cluster is old-school and purposeful, with the tachometer front and center.

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A trio of additional gauges is embedded in the dash. One of them is a kind of cheap-looking digital clock.

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Recaro seats are bolstered to hold you snug during spirited driving. In normal driving, however, their fairly comfortable. As a GT car, the 370Z is intended to cover some miles, not just dream of the race track.

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A bunch of buttons, a big knob, and a small screen — this is not an up-to-date infotainment interface. But it works fine, providing navigation, audio, Bluetooth connectivity, and device connectivity.

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Six on the floor! It’s a perfectly satisfying stick shift.

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Push this button and the transmission will also match revs, so that you can have nice, smooth downshifts.

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Before I forget, solid sport brakes all around.

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Time to fire up that Nismo 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6! (It’s tuned up from a 332-horsepower base-trim motor.)

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So how is this Nimso-ized Z to drive?

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It’s fine. Absolutely fine. Perfectly fine.

Part of the problem with evaluating the 370Z Nismo Tech was that it shared my driveway with the new Ford Focus RS, a twitchy, track-craving turbo four-banger also making 350 horsepower but doing it in far more attention-getting ways.

The 370Z doesn’t need to go there – doesn’t need to be a punk newcomer. This is a middle-aged sports car platform that’s less flamboyant than, say, a Corvette or any of the other, obvious, impractical mid-life-crisis-mobiles.

And for this the 370Z is a good deal. Everything came standard on our tester for $45,490. Only a pair of $140 “Nismo” floor mats and $835 in destination charges pushed the sticker above 46,000 bones.

That’s kind of an awesome price for a car that’s can clock a 0-60 time in 5.3 seconds and still manage a combined 26 mpg. Okay, the exhaust note isn’t much to write home about. But not everybody need roars and burps and wails when the want to go fast.

Handling is predictable for a rear-drive set of wheels such as this. You could get yourself in trouble, but you mostly won’t.

The Z car’s whole reason for being is to be easy on the wallet and fulfilling when you put the pedal down and dig into a corner – but it isn’t suppose to scare the bejeezus out of you or make you feel like you couldn’t snuggle up for a road trip.

I’ve heard about Z owners who have never been without a Z, not in decades. They’re like Mustang owners. But more niche in their loyalties. The Nismo Tech 370Z offers these stalwarts a but more oomph than what they’d get with the lower trim levels, without undermining that essential Z-ness.

I like the 370Z Nismo Tech. I deeply liked it. Now loving it … that’s another story.