Go ahead and have it, Rusty. Just rip that Bunkie Knudsen True Car Guy membership card right out of my hands. My eyes may grow wide with toddler-like disappointment as you shred my enthusiast credentials, but I'm standing firm on this one: I don't like the Nissan 370Z. In fact, I kind of resent it.
As an affordable, accessible sports car, the Z should be an energetic, light-footed athlete on the road, eager to accelerate quickly and turn deftly at any speed. In reality, it's the exact opposite of that. The truckish engine is slow to rev, and noisy without sounding sexy. The clutch pedal operates like an on-off switch, and the stiff shifter takes too much effort for the crisp, precise throws that I expect of it. A stiff, go-kart-like ride is too punishing long periods of street time. The result is a car that only makes sense when driven on the track and pushed to its limits. As a weekend sports car or daily driver, the 370Z is too distant and too heavy-handed to instill any joy on the back roads. I'm a big fan of rude, crude speed-at-any-expense performance like Corvette Z06, the Nissan GT-R, and the Dodge Viper. But the 370Z doesn't compete in that league of performance and in many ways has even less finesse and charisma than those cars.
There's not much to directly pit against Nissan's Z, but that can't keep me from coming up with a half dozen sporty cars that are more exciting and more rewarding to drive. Depending on what your style is, check out the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Mazda Miata, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Subaru WRX STI, or even a Hyundai Genesis coupe.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor