Nissan 370Z Automatic: SUV Mobile Insurance Coverages and Nissan Automotive Vehicle Review

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Nissan 370Z Automatic

The 370Z that swaps its own gears might shift a few perceptions as well.

BY JARED GALL

Chief among the benefits of working atCar and Driver - driving as a job responsibility, Platinum Elite status on Northwest Airlines, lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesdays - is the fact that, when it comes time to debate test-car options, there’s no voice in the back of the room asking, “Hey, why don’t we get the automatic?” We are committed to the three-pedal manual. This sometimes feels like being the captain of the Titanic about an hour after meeting the iceberg, however, so we’re always on the lookout for automatics that can satisfy.

Hey, We Found One!

Cars that we already like are often the best place to start that search, which led us to the all-new 2009 Nissan 370Z. While we would never call an automatic and one of our favorite sports cars a match made in heaven, this one at least seems made somewhere north of purgatory. For starters, the shift paddles are affixed to the steering column, meaning hands always know where to find them. Pull the left for downshifts and the right for upshifts. The shifter can also be used to effect gearchanges.

Moving the shifter to the left from D to manual mode puts the car in a sporting mindset, with the paddles calling forth sharp, lightning-quick shifts that helped this car set the quickest acceleration times we’ve yet recorded from the new Z: 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.1 at 108 mph, quicker by 0.2 and 0.3 second and 1 mph than our quickest manual car. With either the automatic or the do-it-yourself transmission, the 370Z is EPA rated at 18 mpg city/26 highway. We saw 18 with the auto, down 1 mpg from the manual 370Z.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe

PRICE AS TESTED: $36,890 (base price: $31,950)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 226 cu in, 3696cc
Power (SAE net): 332 bhp @ 7000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 270 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 100.4 in Length: 167.2Width: 72.8 in Height: 51.9 in
Curb weight: 3368 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS

Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 11.3 sec

Zero to 130 mph: 21.1 sec

Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.1 sec

Standing ј-mile: 13.1 sec @ 108 mph

Top speed (governor limited): 156 mph

Braking, 70-0 mph: 161 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

FUEL ECONOMY:

EPA city/highway driving: 18/26 mpg

C/D observed: 18 mpg

A pull on the left paddle nets a rev-matching downshift that will convince any bystander that you are using both feet. The one negative we noted was a reluctance to crack off seamless multi-gear jumps. Call for a two-gear drop and the engine briefly hangs up on the first before dropping into the second, sapping some of the joy and confidence from quick two-lane passes.

Aside from that hesitation, though, manually selected shifts feel so utterly natural that a passenger might not even notice your hands never leave the wheel as you chase the fast time through a winding backstretch. But they jolt the car so much that you really don’t want to shift for yourself while trundling around town, as there is just no way to do so smoothly. Slide the shifter into D, and the car settles into commuting mode with slower and softer gear changes.

How Many Shifts Would You Need to Reach Warp Speed?

Long ago, in a galaxy just east of our Ann Arbor offices, automakers used to make two-speed automatics. But then bicycles started boasting 21 speeds, and car companies developed an inferiority complex. (That might not be the real reason.) Now we’re up to seven- and eight-speed automatics. Eight, we’ll say, is just plain too many ratios unless you need to accelerate to 370 mph. Six is sufficient, and the seven cogs possessed by this Z might be the high end of the acceptable count, if not just past the apogee. Some staffers noted minor gear hunting from the seven-speed on the freeway, but the transmission is smooth enough to go unnoticed most of the time. And the 3.7-liter V-6’s 332 hp and 7500-rpm redline help to stretch the usefulness of each ratio.

The new Z is a great little car: powerful, riotously fun to drive, affordable, and flat-out gorgeous. Opting for the automatic - a $1300 upgrade - doesn’t pollute the experience much, and the slushbox’s character duality means it always behaves the way you want it to. We stand by our commitment to manuals, but if that ship were to sink, we wouldn’t much mind finding ourselves in this lifeboat.

Keep Reading: 2009 Nissan 370Z Automatic – Short Take Road Test

Related posts:

  1. 2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z – Short Take Road Test
  2. 2009 Nissan 370Z – Road Test
  3. 2010 Nissan 370Z Touring Roadster – Short Take Road Test
  4. 2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z – Second Short Take
  5. 2009 Nissan 370Z – First Drive Review

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Nissan 370Z Automatic
Nissan 370Z Automatic

Category Nissan Automotive Vehicle Review


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