2013 Nissan 370Z review: Nissan Z-car eats up the road, beats up the driver

The Z's navigation system is, frankly, a bit outdated and expensive. James Martin/CNET

With a Touring Z you have the further option of the tech-laden Navigation Package for $2,150, which adds a 7-inch touch-screen display (like many Nissan/Infiniti models, the Z features both touch and physical controls) through which to interact with the hard-drive-based navigation system and its NavTraffic data. This is Nissan's older navigation system, the very same one that the Z debuted with, and not the newer Web-connected system that is available in the 2013 Nissan Altima .

Along with navigation, the Navigation Package also adds a USB connection for iPods and mass storage devices, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a rearview camera that, given the Z's poor rearward visibility, should almost definitely be a standard feature. You also lose the Bose audio system's six-disc changer in favor of a single-slot DVD player and the 3.5mm auxiliary input jack.

...but there's a catch.
The Nissan Z is a great canyon carver and won't disappoint you as a track tool, but there's a catch and it's a big one: the Nissan 370Z is not a very good daily driver.

The combination of the Z's already stiff ride and the even stiffer upgrades added by the optional Sport Package gave our coupe a disturbingly rough ride over San Francisco's streets. If you live in an area with glass-smooth roads, this may not be an issue for you, but I found the ride to be so rough that it was difficult to even use the touch screen accurately when rolling down the highway. The Z transmits more road noise into the cabin at legal speeds than engine sound, and passengers complained about the rough ride as we crashed over highway expansion joints and bounced around in our seats.

The heavy clutch pedal that makes for quick SynchroRev Match shifts at speed quickly becomes tiring in stop-and-go traffic, where SynchroRev can't mask the fact that the clutch behaves a bit like a toggle. This is compounded by the V-6 engine's tendency to float its revs at low speeds, even with SynchroRev Match disabled, making it difficult to time shifts at neighborhood speeds without either shifting excessively slowly or causing the vehicle to jerk.

If you're not a fan of SynchroRev Match, you can disable the feature, but know that it will automatically re-engage every time you restart the vehicle. Likewise, the automatic climate controls of our Touring model reset themselves to the fully off position after every trip. So, you'd have to remember to reactivate the heater every morning, which sort of defeats the purpose of having automatic climate controls in the first place.

The wide Z's poor rearward visibility and massive blind spots are just the tip of the annoyance iceberg. James Martin/CNET

Consider also the massive blind spots at the vehicle's rear quarter that make every rush-hour lane change a tricky one, the ridiculously small storage space beneath the rear liftback, and the fact that -- after four years of people complaining -- the 2013 Z still uses the same dumb LED fuel and temperature gauges that are difficult to view in direct sunlight. What's good for the track is certainly not good for the commute. As a 30-something bachelor and driving enthusiast, I'm quite possibly the poster child for the Nissan 370Z's target market, but much as I love the Z, I don't think it could be my primary ride.

Is it worth your money?
The 2013 Nissan Z Coupe starts at $33,120 for the base model, but pricing for our 370Z Touring starts at an MSRP of $37,820. Adding the Sport and Navigation Packages, $125 floor mats, and a $780 destination charge brings you to our rather lofty as-tested price of $43,905. Is the Z a great performer? Yes. Is it worth nearly $44K as tested? Nope. Now before you fire off that hate mail, allow me to explain.

If you're looking at the 370Z Touring with Navigation, you're probably also looking for a daily driver -- a vehicle that's sporty but easy to live with. It's probably going to be your primary set of wheels. The Z does daily driving poorly. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec , for example, doesn't quite match the Z's performance, but it's so much easier to live with, with its (small) rear seat and larger trunk. The ride is more controlled and less punishing over public roads. Think of it as getting 80 percent of the performance with 120 percent more comfort. If you're determined to buy a Nissan, spend a few extra bucks and look at the Infiniti G37 Coupe, which offers the best of both worlds with similar performance to the Z on the street with fantastic comfort and tech.

For the performance driver's money, the best Z is the base model with the Sport Package. Don't bother with the Touring trim-level upgrades. James Martin/CNET

On the other hand, if you want an impractical and pure-performance car -- comfort be damned -- the 2013 Nissan 370Z will not disappoint, but do yourself a favor and go bare-bones. Skip the comfort pretenses of the Touring trim-level upgrades, skip the Navigation Package, which is frankly outdated anyway, and get yourself the stripped-down base model with the Sport Package for $36,150. You'll have to plug your iPhone into an auxiliary input, but you'll have a fantastic sports car that you can occasionally take to the track for a savings of about $7,755 over the nearly $44K Touring model. You can buy a lot of tires and track time with that money.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe
Trim Touring with Sport package
Power train 3.7-liter V-6, 6-speed manual transmission with SynchroRev Match, RWD
EPA fuel economy 18 city, 26 highway, 21 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy n/a
Navigation optional Nissan HDD navigation system
Bluetooth phone support optional with address book sync
Disc player single-slot DVD
MP3 player support optional USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 8-speaker Bose audio with 2 subwoofers
Driver aids n/a
Base price $33,120
Price as tested $43,905

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About The Author

Antuan Goodwin gained most of his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable. Email Antuan, follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Antuan