Originally published April 24, 2015
On the mountaintop, the warriors meet. “Oh ancient grandfather,” cries the samurai with the red banner, “How may I regain my vital spirit? My followers desert me. My star fades in the heavens.”
“Well, first off you can cool it with all that ‘ancient grandfather’ business,” snaps the samurai in blue, “Why, I’m in fine fettle these days. Check it out, no rust under my side sills.”
Red Samurai, averting his headlights, “Ack! Nobody wants to see that, ancient grandfather! I mean, friend.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” says the blue samurai with satisfaction, “Pure steel. Still got it. Anyway, you’re over-thinking the problem. There’s nothing wrong with your spirit at all.”
“No. You just need to lop ten grand off your starting price.”
Red Samurai, eyes flashing, draws his katana. “So be it! Death to my former MSRP!”
Blue Samurai, in an undertone: “Tsk. Kids. Always with a flair for melodrama to go with their LED running lights.”
And scene. I ran Nissan’s 370Z up to the top of this mountain in the company of its ancestor to see if I could figure out the essence of this car, and just as Red Samurai discovered, the answer was right in front of my nose.
Ever since the GT-R arrived to solidly steal its thunder, the Z hasn’t really entered into people’s minds – what with the Mustang brawling with the Camaro and the roughhousing between the swelling ranks of sport compacts, few had time to consider where the Z slotted in. Alphabetically speaking, it came low on the list, and with a price tag in the mid-40s with an option or two, it barely even registered. Granted, sports cars are never strong sellers, but the 370Z was outsold in Canada last year by stuff like the VW Eos and the Dodge Avenger.
In the US, however, sales were close to those of the Subaru BRZ. Interesting – why d’ye suppose that was? My guess is price. At $40K-plus for a base Canadian model, the Z makes a nice retirement toy for a few, but isn’t really on the radar for a large portion of the youth market. But here’s the new 2016 version, and the price is down significantly. Now the Z starts at under $30K, within a stone’s throw of the base MX-5 price, and not far off that of the aforementioned BRZ. Suddenly the fat’s gone, and the Z begins to look less like an expensive toy and maybe kind of a bargain.
Look at the gap between this car and the BRZ: for $1,700 more than the Subie, you get an extra 132 hp. You get 18-inch alloys instead of 17s, bigger tires, bigger brakes, a suspension setup that’s a bit more advanced (dual wishbones up front for the Z vs. the BRZ’s MacPherson struts), and then a host of other handy stuff like bi-xenon headlights.