The car lover in me was crazy about the 370Z. It's incredibly hot and incredibly fun to drive. What's that you say? It only has two seats? Seats schmeets - with a car like the 370Z, who's counting?
I couldn't get over how much I loved the exterior look of the 370Z. And I wasn't the only one, as a slew of kids in a departing school bus opened the windows and waved as I pulled into the school parking lot. Could this group of 8-year-olds paying homage to the fine styling of this well-molded, brilliantly red sheet metal be the next generation of automotive media? Only time will tell.
There's nothing boring about the Z, as the interior is fun and uniquely funky. Its superb handling made this mom look like a pro out on the road - even when, while cruising a smidge too fast down a lovely two-lane road, the traffic light ahead of me turned yellow and I went for my turn in spite of the sure-to-squeal tires. What happened? The car cornered beautifully - no squealing, no embarrassment. In that moment, I absorbed why the Z has become so popular among sports car lovers. Tons of power, great looks and impressive handling, all for a price even I could stomach (around $30K). Everything was starting to make sense.
The mom in me, however, knows this could never be a practical family car. As much as I loved the rumble of the Z's engine and the slight vibration I noticed in the gearshift knob, this machine's lack of a second row poses a problem for families. I had to leave my poor husband (a Z lover since he started driving) watching from the driveway with one son in tow as I and our other son sped away, which is why this car will never find a spot in our family garage. Sniffle. Anybody have a tissue?
Moms tend to love details. Even if you aren't the type to add a flourish of this or that to garnish a dish, or if you don't stay awake at night wondering if the hand towel in the bathroom is crooked, most of us appreciate and notice when someone goes that extra mile.
The Nissan 370Z Sport is loaded with tiny nuances, even on the exterior. No flat panels or boring square headlights here - no sir! Every inch of the Z has been molded to perfection. The headlights and taillights almost look like "Z"s, with their sharp corners and extended lines.
The car as a whole resembles a bullet, with a front end that comes to a point and a side view that slopes steeply to the rear. Large chrome handles add a glimmer to the shapely side panel that is the door. There's so much to notice on the Z that it's almost as if your eyes can't take it in all at once, even though the car is tiny compared with most mom-mobiles.
The Z's front end resembles a viper, or perhaps even a vampire. Those sharply angled headlights, paired with a grille that's seemingly equipped with fangs, result in a sinister look. (I wonder if that's what my angry-mom face looks like?) In the back, the 370Z has a sports-car-signature wide and low stance, like a leopard about to pounce.
From the low-profile tires and rear spoiler to the "Z" moniker on the side, this mama was impressed.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
Not to be outdone, the 370Z's interior is notably unique. Digital readouts abound, from a dotted fuel gauge that glows orange when the tank is full to the odd placement of three gauges above the center stack, you really do get a cockpit feel. Plus, push-button start and a leather-wrapped gearshift knob add a little sporty fun to your initial approach.
Although the 370Z sits very low to the ground - making getting in and out awkward for anyone taller than 3 feet - I was comfy once I was in the driver's seat. The seat was fairly adjustable, with crank-style controls, and very supportive ... but not heated. Darn! I'm almost as addicted to heated seats as I am to my morning cup of coffee or tea. (For about $4,500 extra, though, Z lovers can move up to the Touring trim, which gets heated leather seats with power adjustments.)
There aren't any lower-anchor Latch connectors on the passenger side, but there was a top-tether anchor behind the seat. Obviously, the Z wasn't built with kids in mind - a fact I'm OK with. Getting out and driving on your own, especially in a car like the Z, is as healthy as shopping and girls' night out combined, as far as I'm concerned.
Another passenger-side issue I noticed was that, if you do place a younger child (say, around 7) in the front seat, they're in for a really boring ride, as their view will be limited to the glove compartment and door. Like I said, the seats are very, very low.
Storage inside the 370Z is extremely limited. I did find some joy in a tiny cubby over the radio controls, though, and if you absolutely had to hit the grocery store in the Z, there's room for a few bags in the cargo area. The front passenger seat could handle the overflow.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
While no crash-test ratings are available, I was surprised by the laundry list of safety features the 370Z comes with; antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are all standard. Side-impact and side curtain airbags are also standard.
The main safety issue moms should know about the 370Z is that it's an absolute no-no for rear-facing infant seats and small children. Why? Because it doesn't have a manual "off" switch for the passenger's side airbag. Without that switch, you cannot put a rear-facing infant seat in the passenger seat, so there's no Latch connector to do so. Even though the 370Z has built-in sensors to detect a child-safety seat, safety engineers at Nissan say rear-facing infant seats should never be placed in two-seat vehicles like the Z - and really, children under 12 shouldn't ride in the front seat of any vehicle. Sorry gals, this car should be reserved for date-nights only.
In Diapers: No rear seat for installing child-safety seats.
In School: No rear seat and poor visibility from the front passenger seat make this a no-go for older, school-aged kids.
Teens: Only as a passenger from time to time, but there's too much under the hood for a new driver.