Car reviews - Nissan - 370Z - 50th Anniversary
Old-school engine, slick manual transmission, near-perfect steering, great body control, high-quality cabin materials
Room for improvement
Racing livery is an acquired taste, dated interior design and technology, limited practicality, predictably firm on-road ride
Nissan sticks to familiar formula with 370Z’s celebratory 50th Anniversary special
23 Aug 2019
IT MIGHT not have started life on Datsuns and not Nissans, but the Z badge is synonymous with Japanese sportscars, nonetheless.
You’ve got to go way back to 1969 for the launch of the original, the Datsun 240Z, while the Nissan 370Z continues its legacy to this day.
Half a century is no mean feat in the automotive industry, even if there were a few years in between when no Z-badged model was in production.
What better way to celebrate this achievement than with a customary 50th Anniversary special? Read on to find out how the latest 370Z stacks up.
First drive impressions
As far as 50th Anniversary specials go, the 370Z sticks to the script. It is very much the sticker package that many that went before were.
That said, Z aficionados will appreciate its unique touches that trace their way back as far as the Datsun 240Z original.
For example, the 50th Anniversary’s two-tone paintwork pays homage to original BRE racecar.
Two options are available, with the white base colour matched to a red bonnet, A-pillars, side mirrors and rooflines and bootlid, while the alternative silver is contrasted with the same elements – plus the roof panel – but in black.
Then there’s the matching double racing stripes on both doors… and the ‘50th Anniversary’ wreath decals located below the side indicators.
If you wanted a statement piece, this is certainly one, although we’re not sure how many people will find this unique design arresting. Each to their own, we guess.
What we think is nice, though, are the thin contrasting lines that run along the sides of the 50th Anniversary, from the headlights to the rear glass, to form a small triangle that is said to be inspired by the C-pillar design of the aforementioned Datsun 240Z. Discrete done well.
The 50th Anniversary’s fresh of 19-inch Rays alloy wheels also look the business, with subtle red rims completing the external visual upgrades.
Well, actually, for a sleeker shape, the 50th Anniversary goes without the front and rear spoilers from the entry-level coupe that it is based upon.
Inside, the changes are consistent no matter what exterior colour combination you opt for… and they are also not subtle.
As per usual, the front seats are trimmed in black leather-accented upholstery, but red mesh suede inserts with wreath graphics have been added to them alongside embossed ‘50th Anniversary’ logos and contrasting piping and stitching. There’s no mistaking this Z.
Red stitching is also used for the steering wheel trimmed in black leather-accented and Alcantara upholstery. It also features a very handy red 12 o’clock marker.
The suede-trimmed door inserts and knee rests also get the contrasting stitching alongside the shifter boot that is matched to a red knob. Again, nice and discrete touches.
How much for the much privilege of owning a 50th Anniversary, then? $53,490 plus on-road costs, please.
Yes, that’s $3000 more than the base coupe, but exclusivity is ensured as just 50 examples of the special are up for grabs in Australia.
Strip away what makes the 50th Anniversary a 50th Anniversary and it is very much the same as the 370Z that went on sale 10 very long years ago.
There’s no denying that the 370Z is getting a little long in the tooth, but with no next-generation Z in sight, it carries on.
The most obvious areas in which the 370Z shows its age is cabin and safety. Perhaps our biggest bugbear is its lack of a digital speedo, which frankly was already a thing in 2009.
While its infotainment system has been updated over the years, it is still thoroughly outclassed by its contemporary rivals.
Then there’s the interior’s overall design, which is just tired. The instrument cluster is basically unchanged from the item used in the preceding 350Z from 2002, while the centre stack comes from an era Nissan would likely like to forget.
That said, the materials used in the cabin are of a surprisingly high quality, with soft-touch plastics covering the dashboard and door shoulders to good effect.
But we digress. Sportscars have increasingly come under fire from all-comers over their safety levels and the 370Z is no different.
Advanced driver-assist systems such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist are notably absent, with this likely to remain the case until the next-generation model appears. Well, if.
It’s therefore very easy to beat up on the 370Z because of its age, but at its core, it remains one of the last truly analogue sportscars on sale today.
Case in point: The rear-wheel-drive 50th Anniversary is motivated by 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine and mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard.
Yes, a seven-speed torque-converter automatic unit can be optionally had for $2500, but the three-pedal set-up has purists – like those that will be attracted by the 50th Anniversary in the first place – hook, line and sinker.
It’s no surprise then that the DIY option was the only version of the 50th Anniversary available to test at its national media launch.
With an Exedy performance clutch introduced in February last year, the 370Z’s close-ratio manual transmission is better than ever, proving to be easy and fun to use, particularly with its rev-matching function engaged.
The fun factor grows even stronger when you chase the bent six’s 245kW of peak power, which is developed at a screaming 7000rpm.
Even its maximum torque of 363Nm is produced up high, at 5200rpm, ensuring that each cog is wrung out for all it’s worth during spirited driving.
As enjoyable as the 370Z’s straight-line performance is, it would mean nothing without its cornering prowess.
Sitting flat when pushed around bends, the 370Z rarely breaks traction thanks to its rear viscous limited-slip differential.
The trade-off here, of course, is ride comfort, with the 370Z sticking to the sportscar mantra of ‘a firm ride is good ride… around corners’. That said, it’s not bone-crunching.
Meanwhile, the 370Z’s steering is near-perfect. Aside from being a touch on the lighter side, it is quick and offers up plenty of feel to punctuate the sportscar experience. We’re truly glad that hydraulic set-ups aren’t dead just yet.
And it’s for this and many other reasons that the 370Z is still loaded with charm, even if the 50th Anniversary variant tested here isn’t to everyone’s tastes.
While our head is crying out for a thoroughly modern Z sportscar, our heart is quite happy with the current offering.
Long may the 370Z live and cheers to another 50 years of Z.
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Model release date: 1 August 2019
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