Here's a great aspirational car for all those twenty- and thirty-something single gearheads who want a fun car that makes a statement. The 370Z is plenty quick and very raw yet still reasonably livable day-to-day, so long as you can forgive the roughish ride of a sports car on nineteen-inch wheels. I noticed a bit of gear whine, especially at low speeds, but the overall driving experience is pretty invigorating. The novel S mode of the shifter is pretty cool; I don't want to like it because it interferes with the purity of driving, but it works really well, matching engine revs on both up- and downshifts. I even tried to make clumsy, clutch-dumping downshifts and upset the balance of the car, but I wasn't able to fool S mode into permitting a sloppy shift. The gearbox action is quite nice, too, and although it's a bit too stiff for my liking, it works well with the Nissan's raw character.
I really like the looks of the new Z-car as well. Its L-shaped head- and taillights are very nice details, as are the badass wheels. I'm not a big fan of this "chicane yellow" paint, though; I thought the deep blue car we had last fall looked much better.
The cabin is well designed and constructed, too, although I thought the seats were a bit flat and I didn't like the hard plastic around the handbrake lever and the center console. That's a minor complaint, though, since the cushy dashboard plastics are fantastic. Interior packaging is better than before, primarily in the cargo compartment, which is no longer bisected by the rear suspension-tower brace; the new Z's brace is farther forward and out of the way. The load floor is still pretty high, but you could easily fit a healthy amount of gear for two people. There's also space immediately behind the seats for smaller luggage, although you'd need to make sure it was strapped down well, because you'll be hard-pressed to take a corner calmly in this super-fun ride.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor