Iâ€™m old â€”Â I just turned forty. The Z is also old. It will be fifty in about a year. Thus, the Heritage Edition 2019 Nissan 370Z tested here isnâ€™t a misnomer â€” there is plenty of heritage in the various generations of the first Japanese sports car to make a serious impact in the American market.
As far as I know, there is no Heritage Edition Chris available.
But is the latest 370Z still relevant in a market increasingly edging away from sports cars? Or does heritage simply mean washed up?
Yeah, itâ€™s old. Other than some welcome engine changes that added some power, the 370Z hasnâ€™t really seen significant upgrades since Obamaâ€™s first inaugural.
The standard audio system fitted to this nearly-base Z is laughably old. Note the photo â€” I actually dug my circa-2006 iPod out of a box in the basement to get some tunes beyond local radio, as Bluetooth audio streaming or satellite radio isnâ€™t available without moving to an upgraded trim package. Sure, you can connect your phone for phone calls, but thatâ€™s it. I almost hauled the old Case Logic CD crate out of the basement for laughs, but I figured the wired iPod was enough of an absurd photo op that didnâ€™t require me to revisit my music-purchase follies of the late 1990s.
The lift-up cargo bin in the center stack, right where a modern touchscreen would fit in higher trims, looks roomy from the outside, but is just big enough to fit a pair of sunglasses and maybe a wallet.
The Heritage Edition package fitted to my tester is right in line with many classic Z tape-stripe packages dating back nearly fifty years. In other words, itâ€™s just a touch of flash. The flat black stripes on the hood and sides are subtle enough on this lovely Deep Blue Pearl paint, but the bright yellow interior trim bits are just garish.
Yellow on the top and bottom of the steering wheel, the shifter, a couple of panels flanking the trans tunnel, and some yellow fabric on the seats are the extent of the package, thankfully. The yellow leather on the shifter was beginning to discolor even in my very low-mile tester. The Heritage Edition trim is available on the blue, pearl white, or black paint, and adds only $790 to the bottom line of the base model. Iâ€™d wager that any dealers ordering a 2019 370Z will spec a Heritage just to have something different on the lot.
Those funky yellow seats were perfectly supportive for a long drive. Manual adjustments were simple, giving enough range to fit my oddly-proportioned torso comfortably. I was surprised by the functionality of the cargo area â€” I’d expected the beam connecting the shock towers to impede loading, but I had no problem stuffing everything the kid needed for soccer practice in the back.
Driving the 370Z is a delight. Other than power steering that feels a bit overboosted during quick maneuvers, the handling is sharp and tight. The short overhangs and wide track mean the Z is quick to rotate when prodding the throttle.
The 370Z is one of the closest things one can experience to a traditional analog driving experience. Certainly, the electronic nannies are there to catch you if you really get it wrong, but the wide tires and ample torque mean the computers are a touch behind. When morning dew dampened the tarmac on some of my favorite backroads, I found myself twisting in some countersteer before the computer cut the fun. Iâ€™m glad this model wasnâ€™t fitted with the active rev matching â€” Iâ€™m perfectly happy blipping the throttle myself on downshifts. Itâ€™s one of the few joys I have left in my old age.
Where does the 370Z fit in the market? The natural price rivals seem like theyâ€™d be the Miata and the BRZ/86 twins â€” both can slot near this Zâ€™s $31k price point. But the Z has a higher performance threshold â€” 332 horsepower will see to that. That brings one to the pony cars of Detroit, specifically those not powered by the V8.
Camaro, powered by a 275 hp turbo four and optioned with a performance enthusiast package, rings the register right around the same $31k. The V6 Camaro better matches the Z on the time sheets, and is a better fit for the higher-spec Z also around $36k. The four-cylinder Mustang, with 310 hp, is the real standout here â€” with the EcoBoost performance package, it hits the floorplan at $29k, and waltzes right off the floor just as quickly. Witness the 81,866 Mustangs that hit the streets last year. Nissan could barely move 6 percent of that sales figure with the Z.
The 370Z is a good value for a sports car. Itâ€™s easy to live with, yet engaging to drive. But itâ€™s long overdue for updates, inside and out, especially when one can find an outwardly-identical ten-year-old car on the used side of the Nissan lot.
Still, the world needs sports cars. Crossovers were just the beginning, dulling driving dynamics and inoculating drivers toward less engaging modes of transport. Autonomous vehicles further the disconnect between the meatbag in the front seat and the road. Rage against the dying of driving fun. Grab the wheel of a sports car like the Nissan 370Z, and enjoy your time on the road while you still can.
[Images: Â© 2018 Chris Tonn]