In the fall of 1969, Nissan's "Datsun" brand imported a new sports car to America. It was unlike anything the company had made before, and it caused a sensation on arrival. The brand-new Datsun 240Z was a two-seat fastback coupe powered by an overhead cam six-cylinder engine. The Z-car, as it quickly became known, was beautiful, fast, and affordable. Fast forward half a century and Nissan is still making Z-cars. In fact, the 50th anniversary edition of the 2020 Nissan 370Z may be the best Z-car ever made.
When you encounter the 50th anniversary 370Z, the first thing you'll notice is its distinctive two-tone paint job. Most of the car is white, but the hood and hatch are red, and the red extends in two big racing stripes over the roof and around the rear end of the car. There are two red hashmarks on the doors as well. The paint scheme recalls the racing livery of the first Datsun 240Zs that tore up the Trans-Am racing series in the 70s. There's also a silver/black version, but the red is really what you want.
The 50th anniversary 370Z looks great, but there's far more going on than a "paint and stickers" special edition. The car also comes with 19-inch RAYS racing wheels and serious performance tires, performance brakes with red calipers, chassis bracing, and a limited slip differential. You can get the special edition with a 6-speed manual transmission or the 7-speed paddle-shifted automatic.
Under the hood, the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 engine makes 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. That's more than double the output rating of the first 240Z, just for the record. A 2020 370Z will race from 0-60 in a little over 5 seconds, and even with the automatic, this car is breathtakingly fast.
Inside, you'll find a true sports car interior. It may be a little bit Spartan for some people, but that's why there's a regular edition. The 50th anniversary 370Z comes with firm, comfortable sport seats, a basic-looking audio system, real gauges, and an Alcantara/leather steering wheel that you'll hate to let go of.
The audio system may look like a retro feature, but behind it is an eight-speaker Bose audio system that sounds great. The 370Z still offers hands-free phone support and support for USB music, even if you don't get a touchscreen infotainment system. You're here to drive, after all.
Driving is what this 370Z does best. The steering is sharp, the suspension is firm without being jarring, and as I said there's plenty of engine power. If you've waited 50 years to test drive a Z-car, now is the time.
2020 Nissan 370Z
Base price: $35,070
Price as tested: $38,855
Type: Sports Coupe
Engine: 3.7-liter V6 (332 hp, 270 lbs-ft)
Transmissions: 7-speed automatic or 6-speed manual
EPA estimated mileage: 19/26
Overall length: 170 inches
Curb weight: 3,525 pounds
Final assembly: Los Angeles, California
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