Test Drive 2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition: Old Skool Is Cool

When the 370Z Heritage Edition was announced, Jalopnik responded with this headline, “The 370Z Heritage Edition Is A Reminder That Nissan Still Doesn’t Give A Sh*t About Affordable Sports Cars” which is hilarious. I read the article, laughed out loud and agreed.  We want a fun, new, exciting MX-5 contender from Nissan, dammit!  But then I drove it and realized…Jalopnik missed the point. This is a car that celebrates everything that is right with affordable sports cars– the simple thrill of driving, the joy of passing a guy who has spent $100k more than you & the comfort of knowing that whatever goes wrong with the vehicle you’ll never have to resort to doing turning tricks behind the local Walmart to pay for it. Oh, affordable sports car, you’re the best!

Full disclosure: I didn’t want to review the 370Z. I barely even wanted to drive it. Who cares about a car that hasn’t been changed in 20 years, anyway?  I asked to drive the 2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition because I wanted to write about the history of the Z car. It was gonna be great– I was going to talk about next year’s 50th anniversary, my experience with the legendary Z cars in my childhood and a brilliant prediction of what’s to come from Nissan next year. But that’s gonna have to wait because this little bumble bee stole my heart.

Sure, it looks obnoxious — the bright yellow was so intense that my daughter refused to be picked up from school in it. No problem, Freya, this thing’s only got 2 seats anyway and your sister couldn’t care less. And yes, the styling is wonky– the door handles alone make me want to put an ice pick in my forehead.  However, I’d still buy it. Here’s why: it drives like a dream and is everything I want in a vintage car but without the headaches.

My friend Cam, a newly minted 370Z enthusiast!

The 370Z Heritage Edition has a standard  3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with a 332-horsepower @ 7,000 rpm & 270 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.  With a curb weight of about 3,300 lb, this Z car gets you from 0-60 mph in about 5 seconds. It’s top speed is roughly 155 mph and it is of course, a front-engine, RWD coupe.  I drove the 6 speed manual, which I cannot recommend more. The new high-performance EXEDY clutch is an absolute joy to drive, particularly if you like distinct shifting without exhaustive left leg work.

Photo: Nissan North America

In the week that I had this car, found myself looking for any excuse to drive it. Out of eggs? Give me 5 minutes. Kids wanna go to a playdate? Sure thing! Behind the wheel of the 370Z, I felt the road at my fingertips. Through my beloved canyon, I stuck each curve with precision and excitement.  In city driving, its suspension was stiff but not annoying. On the highway, its nimble movements were a welcome surprise. Even more shocking, I hardly missed advanced technology at all. In this car, I did what I’m really supposed to do in a sports car– I put my phone away (I mean, away away), turned up the music, put my right foot down and had a ball!

This version of 370Z Heritage Edition clocks in just under $31k.  What you get for that money is almost as important as you what you don’t get. No back up camera. No lane departure warning, no side traffic alert, no self-parking bullsh*t!  A simple and proficient audio system. An able, but reluctant Bluetooth connection. Oh and yeah, those are cloth seats. Deal with it!

Cloth seats? You betcha!
Photo: Nissan North America

Many in the automotive journalism game (myself included) are guilty of the same thing. We want new! We want advancement! We want TECHNOLOGY! But at the same time, plenty of car people are moving in a different direction.  People with means are buying air-cooled Porsches while those with less coinage are hijacking their grandpa’s pickup. The bottom line is many of us are craving analog driving.  So it’s easy to see Nissan’s 370Z Heritage Edition as a lazy regurgitation of a solid car.  But I’d counter that it is actually a deft interpretation of a trend in current car culture– it is old skool driving at a reasonable price with a manufacturer’s warranty to make this the second car that won’t stress you out. Hooray for the 370Z– it was the most pleasantly surprising car I drove all year!

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