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Nissan 370Z

At last, we hit road in Japanese firm’s latest rear-wheel-drive coupe.

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At first glance, the 370Z may not look like that much of a leap over its predecessor - but Nissan has thoroughly overhauled its fabulous coupé toimproveit in every area and,more importantly, addressany deficiencies. The result is a driver's car with more muscular performance than ever, thrilling handling and amazing brakes. It's not the most practical coupéin the world, but it is far better than before, andthe firm has made huge strides in terms of cabin quality. Factor in the price tag, and you've got a characterful performance machinewhich is also good value for money.

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The Z-car is back... and here it is in our hands on the road! The 370Z continues Nissan’s long history of thrilling sports coupés – a journey that started back in 1969 when the original 240Z went on sale.

Following on from its 350Z predecessor, the new model is aiming to appeal to buyers of BMW’s 3-Series Coupé and the Porsche Cayman. It has more power than before, as well as a higher-quality cabin, and the handling offers a sharper edge.

At first glance, the newcomer doesn’t look much different from the 350Z – but then you can hardly blame Nissan for that. Owners of that model love its muscular lines, so some careful nip and tuck is the order of the day with the latest car.

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In come new boomerang-shaped headlights and tail-lamps, fatter flared wheelarches at the rear, C-pillars which hark back to the 240Z and shorter overhangs at both ends. It’s also more compact: the wheelbase is 10cm shorter, there’s a 7cm reduction in length and the track is nearly 6cm wider. As a result, the 370Z has a purposeful stance.

Inside, fit and finish – always a bugbear for many 350Z owners – is much improved. There’s new premium-feel material on the seats, armrest and door trims, while the sporty gauges on the dash look great. The seats offer plenty of support, too.

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Practicality has been vastly improved, as the intrusive rear strut brace of the 350Z has now been lowered significantly. Plus, a new shelf area has been added behind the seats for storing briefcases.  

Under the bonnet lies a 3.7-litre V6 from Nissan’s luxury arm, Infiniti. Power jumps from 309bhp in the 350Z to 326bhp, while torque is up to 366Nm at 5,300rpm. That might make it sound as if you need to rev the motor to get it going, but 90 per cent of this output is available from only 2,000rpm, which makes for lusty power delivery.  

Performance is tremendous in any gear. The 0-60mph sprint takes 5.4 seconds, and because the big engine keeps on pulling all the way to the 7,500rpm red line, overtaking is quick and easy.

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What’s more, it sounds great. A new exhaust system offers a throatier tune – although it’s harder to hear from the inside because of the cabin’s improved sound deadening materials.

However, the highlight of the 370Z is its new six-speed manual gearbox, which gets a clever piece of technology called Synchro Rev Control.

This gizmo matches engine revs to road speed, and blips the throttle for seamless downshifts.

It’s one of the most fun, well executed pieces of technology we’ve tried in a long time, and it makes you feel like a professional racer! Of course, enthusiasts can disengage the device, which allows traditional ‘heel-and-toe’ gearchanges. A seven-speed auto is available for the first time, too.

Suspension revisions include a switch to double wishbones at the front, while the rear retains the multi-link set-up of the 350Z – although it has been updated for a stiffer, flatter ride. And that’s exactly what you feel in corners. The 370Z’s steering has superb feedback, and the body rolls less than the 350Z. The standard 18-inch Yokohama tyres offer bags of grip, while the brakes have excellent bite.

Rival: Porsche Cayman
Kicking off at around £36,000, the entry-level 2.7-litre Cayman is a great deal more expensive than the new 370Z. However, if you are in the market for a serious two-seater driver’s car, the Porsche has to be on your list.

When the new Z goes on sale here early next year, it will have just turned 40 years old. And this sixth-generation model is the best yet.

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