The 2016 Nissan 370Z is the latest in a long line of “Z” coupes and convertibles from Nissan that have featured sporty styling, rear-wheel drive and six-cylinder power. The latest generation debuted back in 2009, however, leaving it as one of the oldest models on the market. The 370Z is still a top-tier athlete, and its relatively affordable pricing means there is ample value to be found. But whether the 2016 370Z makes for a smart purchase will largely depend on your priorities.
The current Nissan Z focuses on handling and performance over comfort and cruising. A strong engine is matched by strong grip, and together they help rocket the 370Z through corners with authority. The 370Z also features a well-appointed and surprisingly upscale cabin. On the downside, there’s not much cargo capacity, and the Z’s large tires and modest noise insulation result in plenty of road noise at speed.
For 2016, Nissan is hoping to minimize the noise, having added Active Noise Control (ANC) and Active Sound Enhancer (ASE) to all models equipped with the Bose audio system. Nissan says the ANC is meant to remove undesirable low-frequency engine noise without diminishing the urgency of the 3.7-liter V6, while ASE is intended to make the engine sound sportier. A harsh, unrefined engine note has been a complaint in the 370Z since it was released. It’s an unfortunate trait that detracts from what is an otherwise stout motor.
The 370Z has no direct competition, with most two-seat sports cars being far more expensive. The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and 2016 Ford Mustang compete with the 370Z on price and offer thrilling V8 engines, but both have larger footprints and aren’t as nimble around turns. If you want to save some cash, the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S twins offer fantastic handling and a lot of value, but they aren’t nearly as quick as the Z. For an extra dose of luxury along with excellent all-around performance, the BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible should hit the spot.
Like generations of Z cars before it, the 2016 Nissan 370Z is truly a niche sports car. But its various limitations make it something of an acquired taste, especially at this advanced stage of its career.
trim levels & features
The two-seat 2016 Nissan 370Z sports car is available as a hatchback coupe or soft-top convertible (Roadster). The coupe comes in base, Touring, Sport, Sport Tech, Nismo and Nismo Tech trim levels. The 2016 370Z Roadster is sold in base, Touring and Touring Sport trims.
The 2016 370Z can be had in either coupe or convertible form.
The base-model 370Z coupe and Roadster come standard with 18-inch wheels and summer performance tires, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Roadster gets a power-operated convertible soft top.
Available only on the coupe, the Sport trim brings a limited-slip differential, upgraded brakes, special lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, chin and rear deck spoilers and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with Active Noise Control and Active Sound Enhancer technology.
The Touring trim loses the Sport’s performance upgrades but adds creature comforts like leather/simulated-suede upholstery and suede door trim panels, a rear cargo cover (coupe only), heated seats with four-way power driver adjustment (and four-way manual lumbar adjustment) and four-way passenger-seat power adjustment, ventilated seats (roadster only), aluminum pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, voice controls, a rearview camera, Bluetooth audio connectivity, USB/iPod integration and satellite radio.
The coupe’s Sport Tech and Roadster’s Touring Sport essentially combine the content of the 370Z Sport and Touring models, although Touring Sport Roadsters lack the Sport’s chin and rear deck spoilers, and Sport Tech coupes don’t get the Touring’s heated power seats, upgraded upholstery, aluminum pedals or cargo cover.
The 370Z Nismo coupe has a more powerful version of the standard V6 and features the same or upgraded versions of the Sport trim’s performance hardware (including an exclusive sport-tuned suspension and special brake fluid and hoses). The Nismo also features unique aerodynamic body pieces. Inside, the Nismo largely shares the Sport’s feature content, notably adding leather/simulated-suede Recaro manual sport seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger) and a suede-trimmed steering wheel. The Nismo Tech trim level adds the Touring’s auto-dimming rearview mirror and its various upgraded electronics features, including the an exclusive sport-tuned suspension and special brake fluid and hoses). The Nismo also features unique aerodynamic body pieces. Inside, the Nismo largely shares the Sport’s feature content, notably adding leather/simulated-suede Recaro manual sport seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger) and a suede-trimmed steering wheel. The Nismo Tech trim level adds the Touring’s auto-dimming rearview mirror and its various upgraded electronics features, including the touchscreen interface and the navigation system.
performance & mpg
All versions of the 2016 Nissan 370Z except the Nismo models are powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all coupes and Touring and Touring Sport roadsters. On Sport and Sport Tech coupes and Touring Sport roadsters, the manual gearbox includes SynchroRev Match, a driver-selectable mode that automatically blips the throttle during downshifts to deliver perfectly smooth gearchanges.
A seven-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability and downshift rev-matching is optional for all 370Z coupes and standard on the base 370Z Roadster. Steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles are included on all automatic-equipped models except the base coupe.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 370Z coupe with a manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while the heavier Roadster accomplished the same run in 5.5 seconds. That’s about as quick as the four-cylinder BMW 228i coupe and convertible, but notably slower than the six-cylinder 235i and the V8-powered Camaro and Mustang.
The EPA rates fuel economy for the coupe at 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) with the manual; the automatic also checks in at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway). The Roadster’s fuel economy is slightly worse at 20 combined (17/24) with the manual and 21 combined (18/25) with the automatic transmission.
The 370Z Nismo models use a specially tuned version of the V6 that generates 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed manual transmission with SynchroRev Match is standard, with the seven-speed automatic available as an option. We’ve tested a couple manual-transmission Nismo models, the most recent a 2015 Nismo Tech. Zero to 60 mph took 5.2 seconds, a disappointing performance given the exclusive engine tune. The EPA has not separately evaluated the Nismo’s fuel economy, but on Edmunds’ highway-biased evaluation loop, we managed to earn 24 mpg, a surprisingly respectable result.
Every 2016 Nissan 370Z comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control and side airbags. The coupe gets side curtain airbags, while the Roadster’s side airbags extend upward for head protection. A rearview camera is standard for the coupe’s Touring, Sport Tech and Nismo Tech trims and the 370Z Roadster’s Touring and Sport Touring trims.
In Edmunds brake testing, a coupe with the available upgraded brakes and 19-inch summer performance tires stopped from 60 mph in a short 106 feet, while a Roadster with the Sport package matched that feat. However, the most recent 370Z Nismo we tested posted a longer distance of 111 feet.
When you get inside the 2016 370Z, you may be surprised to find high-quality materials that wouldn’t look out of place in an Infiniti. But you can’t get Bluetooth or a USB port on either the base or Sport trim, a sure sign of the current Z’s advancing age. The seats feature sporty contours that excel at keeping occupants in place during spirited drives, but long-distance cruising comfort is also laudable. Although the steering wheel doesn’t telescope, Nissan compensates to an extent by providing a gauge cluster that moves with the wheel’s tilt adjustment. Still, you’ll want to make sure that your arms are comfortable with the reach to the wheel, because you won’t be able to adjust it.
Satisfying seats aside, the 370Z’s interior quarters are very tight, with precious little storage space for even small items. In the coupe, the bulkhead between the seatbacks and the cargo area makes for a particularly closed-in sensation, whereas the convertible’s intimate interior is more typical of that body style. The coupe’s rear visibility also leaves much to be desired, as does its meager 6.9 cubic feet of cargo space. The convertible drops to a laughable 4.2 cubic feet, making it tough for a couple to pack much more than soft-sided weekend bags.
The 370Z is clearly meant for driving enthusiasts. The steering is ultra-responsive, while the body stays flat even in high-speed corners. Not surprisingly, the ride is pretty stiff, especially with the Nismo’s sport-tuned suspension, though it’s still livable in daily use. More objectionable is the raucous road noise that fills the cabin over certain types of pavement, though this year’s model could be a little bit better with the optional noise cancellation system.
It’s hard to argue with the V8-like acceleration you get with the 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6, but revving it to its redline isn’t the reward it is in other sports cars. In normal driving, you’ll often find yourself shifting up to the next gear to avoid the high-rpm coarseness the engine sends through the pedals and shifter. Although annoying, this lapse in refinement doesn’t keep the 370Z from being invigorating to drive at just about any speed. In particular, the SynchroRev Match mode for the manual transmission is an enthusiast’s delight, as it’ll make you feel like a professional racer with every perfectly rev-matched downshift.