Pit it against its closest rivals and the new two-seat 370Z from Nissan will win every time. But who’s counting?
You don’t have to be car literate to understand the point Nissan is driving home with its advertising for its new two-seater, the 370Z. Beneath the banner line “Kaisers chiefed” – a layered reference to the Kaiser Chiefs and the fact that this masculine niche of the motoring market is dominated by German roadsters – the 0-60mph times of the Audi TTS, BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster are listed. At the bottom of the list, picked out in orange, is the 370Z’s time and, oh my goodness… the Nissan is the fastest at just 5.5 seconds. It means that if you and your Teutonic buddies were to race to reach 60 miles an hour – a distance of a couple of hundred yards – you’d have to sit for a whole 10th of a second twiddling your thumbs waiting for the others.
Car statistics are a testament to the essential gullibility of the car lover. We put so much store in them, yet we never challenge them. We are told a vehicle’s top speed is 155mph (in the 370Z’s case) and we simply accept it. My car can do 155mph. Brilliant! But when was the last time you drove at 155mph – other than on a PlayStation?
We also know a car’s emissions (262g of CO2 per km for the 370Z). How are you going to check that? Seal up your garage? Better not… We have access to a car’s fuel consumption (25.2mpg). Easy to check and always wrong. We seem to happily accept that the figure is ludicrously high and that we’ll only ever achieve it if we drive off a cliff with a following wind.
What about the 0-60 figure? That sounds like something that could be checked quite easily. And so it was that my teenage son, Rufus, and I pulled into a lay-by on the A3 early one Sunday morning. As it was an experiment we should maybe have been wearing lab coats. Rufus held the stopwatch (the one on his mobile phone) and I waited for a gap in the traffic, gunning the engine. The idea was simple, I’d shout “go” the moment I stamped on the gas and as soon as the needle hit 60 I’d shout “stop”.
Despite the futuristic styling of the 370Z, the Nissan is a refreshingly no-nonsense sports car. There are no turbochargers on its throaty 3.7-litre V6 engine. There is, of course, electronic traction control, but it can easily be switched off. It also has a folding cloth roof, which gives it a gloriously old-fashioned feel and means it has a decent-sized boot. An insight into the target market of this car can be found inside the boot’s lid. Not a safety instruction or spare tyre details, but a sticker revealing the best way to load a bag of golf clubs.
The car handles well, it feels grounded and precise. The interior finishing, from the touch screen info-tainment console to the leather steering wheel, is upmarket and shows Nissan is keen to take on its German rivals not just in performance. Price wise it certainly comes out on top. The Nissan starts at £27,015, while the Audi TTS is a grand more, the Boxster is £33,998 and the BMW Z4 £35,740.
And so to the road test… The first go has to be aborted as Rufus failed to press the stop button. On the second attempt we hit 5.9 seconds. But on the third, I manage a dizzying 4.97 – a new record for the 370Z, or maybe just dodgy timing from my 13-year-old assistant. Either way, this is a very fast car and, to misquote the Kaiser Chiefs, everyday I loved it more and more.