I totally had automotive nirvana driving this gem of a sportscar that redefines the Nissan brand at 'just' RM370k whereabouts (on-the-road with insurance).
Alright, so what if it doesn't make the right (as opposed to politically correct) sporty soundtrack or have the badge of its Stuttgart arch-nemesis of which it is benchmarked against. In the UK, most auto mags have face-off this latest Z-car with the Cayman 2.9 with PDK. Forget that, in Malaysia, none of that matters since a brand-new Cayman S (3.4 with DFI + PDK) with some of the 'right' options ticked will cost almost double the Nissan 370Z!!!
At one point, I was driving 2.5 hours non-stop in the Z through a set of twisties and highway sweeping corners I got morphed into the car. I was at one-with-the-car. Serious. I thought that the Audi TT coupe was great in the way your buttock could 'feel' the road. This is even better! I was doing faster corners I had never thought I was capable of. Relaxed and composed.
The chassis balance was superb while suspension set-up was just right. Makes daily drive livable and comfy, yet poisely planted. The 370Z tracks corners brilliantly with the rear axle following incisively and faithfully. The way its steering whispers back to you into a bend is a finesse in its own Japo way, which the large "Z" emblem constantly reminds you. Yet in its entirety, it is all more Conti-esque in weighting and feel. The rack may not have the talkativeness of a Porsche's but I would say it's more than adequate. The rear donuts may step out a little bit should you push them near their limits, but it's all natural (even with stability programme on by default at all times), unlike the more robotic and 'synthetic' R35 GT-R.
I liked the way the gear knob vibrates too, as you caress it in your left palm. A sense of connectivity, reminiscent of my dad's Datsun 120Y of the late 70s, but in a different kind of way (that it doesn't oscillates on idling!) On the off side, the few gripes I have with the new 370z is the metallic gnashing sound of the clutch upon initial take -off, the often louder-than-desired noises (of water splashing, pebbles 'denting' sound of metallic knocks and rolling tyres) through the rear wheels arches. Looking quite tacky are fuel & coolant LEDs orange 'blips' and digital multi display info, residing within the left-most instrument cluster pod. Rest assured for all its cons here, the superb Bose sound system more than made up for them, especially the part about annoying decibels seeping through rear wheel arches.
Needless to say, Nissan's pioneering Synchro Rev worked flawlessly, much like a twin clutch 'box (which affords uninterrupted torque transfer upon swapping cogs), only here blipping of revs minimises torque dip as you downshift. Worked great for me since I never got the hang of this heel-and-toe shifting. As a result, you could actually feel more instantaneous traction as you drop a gear or two into corners.
At the end of my test period, I had wanted to 'carjack' the tester and not return it to ETCM. It also made me wanna trade my Cayman 2.7 for the new 370z...any demo unit in red or yellow going for a song? For me at least, I think it badly needs a Nismo muffler with a more 'show-off' soundtrack, or HKS or whatever aftermarket tuners have to offer to dump waste gases at the rear more emphatically!