2009 Nissan 370Z Touring
2009 Nissan 370Z Touring. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2009 Nissan 370Z

Oshawa, Ontario – When I announced that I was going to be test-driving the all-new 2009 Nissan 370Z, a set of ears pricked up: those of a good friend who owns a copy of the last-generation model, a 2007 350Z. So when I tell you that this newest incarnation of Nissan’s iconic two-seater is an improvement on a vehicle that was already a pretty nice ride, it’s not just me talking, but someone who lives with the 350Z on a daily basis. And that’s mighty high praise indeed.

The 370Z is more powerful than the car it replaces, sporting a 3.7-litre V6 to the 350Z’s 3.5-litre. Horsepower rises to 332 from 306, while torque climbs to 270 lb-ft from 268 lb-ft. But unusually for a makeover, it’s smaller overall, with wheelbase, overall length and height shorter, while width increases 30 mm increasing handling prowess while providing a bit more passenger comfort. Cargo capacity also opens up from 193 to 195 litres.

2009 Nissan 370Z Touring
2009 Nissan 370Z Touring
2009 Nissan 370Z Touring. Click image to enlarge

But the real change is at the scale, where extensive use of aluminum and composite materials has helped slim the Z down by 52 kilograms, giving those extra horses even more ability to shine. The coupe starts at $39,998, almost $10,000 less than the MSRP on the 2008 model it replaces.

This machine’s a monster, with an incredible feel, delivering rich power through a fat powerband. And on top of that, Nissan has dropped in one of the most impressive technological goodies I’ve seen in a long time: a manual transmission that does its own heel-toe downshifting.

I know the purists are turning up their noses, sniffing that real drivers know the trick of rolling the foot to blip the throttle while braking and downshifting, matching the engine revs for a smooth transition. The reality is that it’s not easy for many people to learn how to do it – I’m still trying to get a smooth blip every time – and there’s no reason why the pleasure of a properly-shifted transmission should be limited to only a few hard-core drivers. In fact, I suspect that some owners may use the feature as a guide to learn how to do it themselves; most drivers don’t have the opportunity to sit alongside a trained track lapper, and it’s easier to learn if you know what you’re trying to accomplish.

2009 Nissan 370Z Touring
2009 Nissan 370Z Touring. Click image to enlarge

The system works incredibly well, regardless of how fast you’re going, how hard you brake, or how many gears you skip. Each gear change is effortlessly smooth, completely without shudder, and accompanied by a rasp out the twin pipes that’s music to the ears. You’d have to be very experienced on the track to do what this system flawlessly does, each and every time.

A downshift rev-matching feature is included with the optional seven-speed automatic transmission. The system is called SynchroRev Match on the six-speed stick, and it’s part of a $4,000 Sport Package that also throws in 19-inch super-lightweight alloy wheels, sport brakes, front chin spoiler, and rear spoiler. Purists can either leave off the package, in which case there’s no rev-matching ability, or if it’s ordered, they can simply shut the system off, and blip the throttle themselves – but it works so well that I’m guessing more than one, if he thinks his buddies aren’t watching, will be hitting the switch to turn it on. (The only other available option package is navigation, for an additional $2,500.)

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