If Eric Tingwall thinks he's going to outdo me with references to old Pontiac executives, he's got another thing coming. To wit, Jim Wangers, one of the godfathers of the GTO, stresses the important difference between racing and performance: enthusiasts think they want a race car, but they actually want a performance car. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with the Nissan 370Z. Weekend track car? You bet. The Z eats up straightaways with V-8-like hunger and strikes a good balance between playfulness and surefootedness. You surely won't find anything better for $35,000 (among new, unmodified cars, that is). On the street? Thanks, but I think I'd rather drive a Ford Mustang. The reasons, which Tingwall already illuminated, include a lugubrious and noisy engine, an overly stiff ride, and an unnecessarily beefy transmission (270 lb-ft of torque shouldn't require a rock crusher gearbox).
Having said all that, I would not go so far as to say I don't like the 370Z. For one, it might be the best looking sports car in its price range - more athletic than the chunky looking Mustang and Chevy Camaro, and yet far more emotional and graceful than a Mitsubishi Evo or Mazda RX-8. The interior, once a sore spot, is now executed to nearly the same level as that of an Infiniti G37. And then there's the aforementioned fact that it is a fine track machine. If you think you might want to chase BMW M3s on the weekend and drive a reliable Japanese commuter during the week, here's your car. I only wish the 370Z could make those commutes more interesting.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor