Because, let's face it, cars a with large, naturally aspirated V6, manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive are not long for this world. The 2018 model year may have introduced a new clutch to the 370 (as well as this jazzy red paint and wheel design), but fundamentally the package has remained the same since its introduction in the previous decade: 328hp, 3.7-litre V6, six-speed manual gearbox, somewhere around 1,500kg and 155mph, passing 62mph after 5.3 seconds. In 2018 it looks about as modern as a PlayStation 2: potentially still quite enjoyable years after launch, but with a suspicion that newer tech would be more fun. Or could it be that the Zed now represents the traditional, authentic sports car experience that so many crave?
And yet, because they all rely on turbocharging, to embrace the Nissan's naturally aspirated throttle response, linearity and predictability is as welcoming as the comfy seat in front of your Nan's fire. It's as simple, as pleasing and as rewarding as it was 15 years ago, and will most likely continue to be, even as so much of the rest of the world changes. That capacity means the Zed will haul from barely any revs at all, power building and building with real intent beyond the naughty side of 7,000rpm. There's no delay, no spike of boost and no sense of everything being in the mid-range - modern turbos are good, but there's still a lot to be said for an atmospheric engine in a sports car.
The 370's has never been the most inspiring of powertrains, but heck does it remain potent. Even with gears longer than ideal the car romps along the road, pulling hard through every gear and every rev. Indeed on A-roads or larger B-roads the Nissan is entirely pleasant company as you revel in that pace, heel-and-toe your own downshifts (or use the very smart rev-match system), feel a bit of rear-wheel drive-ness on the exit of bends and generally embrace a more simple sports car approach. Traction control is on or off, the rev match is on or off and, well, that's about your lot.
When pushed the Z feels clumsy, vague and a bit scrappy, the body control that felt acceptable at lower speeds becoming loose and unsettling. Even with the traction control off something still intervenes which, when combined with the erratic behaviour of the limited-slip diff - which doesn't always seem that keen on locking - can make cornering a disjointed, awkward, unpleasant experience. It never feels entirely in control of itself when you want to drive more quickly, which inevitably means you back off and revert to that more relaxed gait where both car and driver feel more comfortable.
Yet, despite its problems - don't forget this is a one-star car for the judging panel at What Car? - there's a boisterousness and a charm that makes the 370Z quite likeable. It always has been a bit of a bruiser and will continue to be so until the day it dies, whatever piecemeal tweaks are thrown at it. However, as has surely been discussed numerous times, if every car set out to achieve the same objective then the automotive world would be far duller. This one could never be mistaken for anything other than a 370Z, and diversity in the face of continued conformity to a dreary norm should be celebrated. If another Zed car can retain this one's slightly coarse appeal, while introducing a level of dynamism that could broaden its audience, then the future will be bright for Nissan's iconic badge.
|NISSAN 370Z MY18 - Specifications|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive|
|Torque (lb ft)||268@5,200rpm|
|Price||£34,285( as tested £34,860 comprising £575 for Infra Red metallic paint)|