Compared to the contemporary small-displacement turbocharged engines that have all but eliminated turbo lag and offer hard-hitting, low-end torque, the 370Z’s engine feels a little old-school, needing more revs to get the most out of it. For many (myself included), this sort of smooth and linear delivery of power is thoroughly enjoyable, in this case marred only by the seven-speed automatic fitted to our car instead of the far more appropriate six-speed manual.
Despite large, metallic paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, shifts were woefully slow. With modern dual-clutch transmissions (and even many other makers’ automatics) offering instant snap-snap-snap gear shifts in today’s sporty cars, this dull unit sucks the life out of an otherwise engaging driver’s machine.
Putting the transmission whining behind us, there’s an even bigger downside to all the motoring mirth enjoyed on the drive to the pâtissiere: the sudden realization that the trip back to the wedding with boxes of highly prized – and delicate – cargo means driving the twists and turns at an escargot’s pace. I find myself muttering over and over through clenched teeth, “What a waste of great roads!” while the driver of a large Citroen delivery van being held up by my pace stares evil thoughts into the back of my head.
For what it’s worth, those pastries are well worth the suffering.
Sufficiently recovered from post-wedding hangovers, the beds made and the chateau’s gates locked behind us, we set out once more on the French motorways for the first of several days of cross-country travel. We climb the mammoth dunes at Arcachon before heading south to San Sebastián, Spain and dip our toes in the Bay of Biscay, followed by a meal of magnificent tapas.
The next day, back into France and blitzing across to Montpellier, we dip our toes again, this time in the Mediterranean. And a few days later, we’re on the road travelling east to Annecy, the tourist-heavy Alpine town also known as the Venice of the Alps. It’s an impossibly beautiful place that’s worth the trip (especially if you’re in Geneva, only 30 km away).
The 370Z has been around a few years now, but it’s no less exciting to behold than it was when the public first laid eyes on it. What’s more, in France, the Z is a veritable exotic, despite its reasonable price. During the entire trip, we did not see another 370Z. To put this into perspective, we counted seven Ferraris and a dozen or so Porsches during the same journey.
And people do notice this car, in a big way. Pedestrians and fellow motorists alike would unabashedly stare at the Nissan, as if they’d never seen one before. Just outside Montpellier, a truck driver with a trailer full of Nissans (including three brand new GT-R super cars) gestured excitedly his approval of our ride.