The last time I knew of anything Nissan related with a number for a model number was my father’s first car when he came to Canada; an early 80’s, beige Datsun 210. That car was the symbolic in so many ways for a new Sri Lankan immigrant. It was the cornerstone of independence that allowed him to get to and from a job to support mom and myself. It sat quite well in the driveway of our quaint first house in Brampton. It was the first steering wheel I’d ever touch sitting on the edge of the driver’s seat, being barely able to be eye level with the horn. He told me that the cigarette lighter was the Datsun’s “turbo boost”, just like Knight Rider had. We went on lots of drives in that car and although I can’t give you many details, I can remember that car being a big piece of my youngest years.
Fast forward to the 2016 incarnation of another iconic (although for many different reasons) numbered model is upon us. The Nissan 370Z is an enthusiast’s car. It’s fast as, well, it’s damn fast. It’s gorgeous. It’s sleek. It’s powerful. It’s elegant.
The smaller numbers are two doors and two seats. And a starting price of a toonie beneath $30,000. Not a typo. Not a promotion. Not a month-end sale. $30 large for a sports car in today’s world is unheard of.
Wait, it gets better.
You’re not sacrificing power and performance for the low entry level price. You’ll still enjoy the massive 3.7 V6 motor that rifles out 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque that the highest Nismo model has.
How’d Nissan do this? They took out some bells and whistles from the “Coupe” trim, such as a navigation system, Sirius XM, rear view monitor, active noise cancellation, a universal garage door opener, an auto dimming rear view mirror, heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter and handbrake, along with a host of others.
You know what? Keep them. Keep all of it. Even the rear view monitor for a car that offers limited rear visibility. I’m accustomed to knowing what’s around me and what’s approaching me, so I’m good.
I’d rather have a big storage bin in place of an infotainment screen. Function over fashion every single time for me.
I, for one, don’t care for them nor do I want them. The trade-off here is just fine with me. Give me a sexy body pulled by 332 unsympathetic horses stacked on 18” tires and a six speed manual transmission, even with an ugly shift knob. Sorry Nissan, but you could’ve spent a couple of bucks on something a touch nicer. I know, I know…base model, function over fashion but come on, give me something slightly nicer to shift gears with, wouldya please?
As you prepare to launch, you’ll see that the information system is basic but useful, just like in the “good ol’ days”. Your manual adjusted seat will take a bit of finagling but you should find your safe and comfortable spot easily. Let’s have a moment of reality: you’re not buying this car for its in-cabin technology. You’re buying raw power enveloped in beautiful curves book-ended with Nissan’s badging.
Once you’ve fired up the engine and strapped yourself in, the drive itself is remarkable.
The suspension is great, there’s a great feeling of balance in weight distribution and the car sails smoothly through its gearbox. The clutch pedal is a tad heavy compared to other new cars I’ve driven but it’s an observation, not a complaint, I assure you. Even in my least favorite car color, grey, the 370Z still looks stunning. But let’s forget the trivial things about the car and remember that this two seater sports car delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
Nissan has enabled ownership of the 370Z to the rest of us by offering a base model for $29,998. They’ve opened the door to “I can have a sports car in my early 20’s” by giving you a lean cut of steak for a helluva competitive price. And the steak is damn good without any sides or sauce.
It’ll be interesting to see how many of these base “Coupe” models appear on roads over the next year. Nissan’s done all the hard work in creating an alluring and affordable sports car. It hinges on consumer behavior, now. And with everyone scrutinizing their pennies more than ever, the price and product are smartly aligned.
Even my dad would be on board for that.
Datsun image courtesy of japanesenostalgiccar.com