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25 Februari 2010

Aku dan Nissan Fairlady








What would be a great car to drive on a long haul to and from Johor Baru? To have a comfortable drive, a BMW 7 Series or a Mercedes-Benz s Class would be ideal; if you couldn’t get any one of these, an E Class or a 5 Series would suffice as well. However, if it is fun you want, what better car than the Nisan 370Z?

Yes, that was the car, courtesy of Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd, the local importers and distributors of the Nissan brand that was given to me (for a short spate of 3 days) for the journey.

Launched not long ago, the test cat that came to me has already got 11,000 kilometres on the clock; I am not the first to test it, and obviously the bunch of journalists who have taken it before me have all maximised the mileage. You’d have to be retarded or very busy, not to keep this car on the road every minute you have it!

The reason is obvious; the Nissan 370Z is a road monster built for one purpose only, to perform, and to perform to the limit if necessary. With a new 3.7 litre V6 engine that pushes out 333PS of power at 7,000 rpm, and developing an immense 363Nm of torque at 5200 rpm, it delivers a huge kick in the pants on demand, yet your grandmother can take it to the market on Sunday (if she still remembers how to use a clutch and a stick shift, because this car is a manual).

The 370Z comes with two available transmissions, a 7-speed automatic with paddle shifts, or a 6-speed manual; if I had my choice, it would be a manual. Top gear in the manual yields 45 km/h per 1,000 rpm, and it will hit a top speed in excess of 270km/h. I only managed around 250km/h, due to the relatively heavy traffic; at that speed, one car on the road 500 metres ahead of you already means you have to lift off, just in case the driver in front suddenly feels like changing lanes. You really have to be very careful because people are not used to having a car close what seems to be a very large gap at regular speeds, in no time at all.

The 370Z is developed from the 350Z, and although it shares much of the DNA with the 350Z, the 370Z is actually a totally new car; it is shorter to start with, having a much shorter wheelbase to provide it with more pin-point handling characteristics. The suspension system remains the same, with double wishbones at the front and a 4-link arrangement at the rear. To keep weight down, there is heavy use of aluminium, and this includes an aluminium sub-frame to increase rigidity. The suspension is sport specs, and ride is on the hard side of firm. It seems to me that when the designers worked on the car, they concentrated more on performance than on comfort.

Having said that, I begin to appreciate the hard suspension at higher speeds; it is actually more comfortable at 200 km/h, and it feels very stable at that speed. If you do not watch your speedometer needle, it easily creeps up to 240, by which time you start wishing you have even harder shockers. At speeds above 220 km/h, I think a larger rear spoiler, and a front air dam to match it would help greatly. Air starts to get into the under body parts and create some lift. The ground clearance of 125mm is low by any standards, and I suppose they have to cater for the road humps and all the undulations, so a speed-activated air dam at the front end would be a boon. Nevertheless, the 370Z is still very much a fun car to drive in the right hands.

Handling is first class, and the driving feel is very continental, or ‘American muscle car’; if you don’t look at the Nissan logo, you will forget that this is a Japanese car. Anyway, in case you lose it, the 370Z has VDC, which is Nissan’s version of traction control. I had no issues in the handling department. Lane change is excellent, and it corners with surefooted ease. Steering response is excellent, and the feel is heavy, which inspires more confidence than a feather-light steering.

The brakes are huge, four pot callipers in the front, and twin pots at the rear, fitted onto large discs; stopping is not a problem, and the large 19-inch wheels with 245’s at the front and wider 275’s at the rear are excellent. Tyre noise is a noticeably loud, though.

The six-speed gearbox is great; you can toodle around at 60 km/h in top gear if you want, and if you just floor the throttle, it will pick up with enough zest if you are lazy. However, if you are adroit with the gears, you can unleash all 333 horses at once, and the acceleration will leave you breathless; you will have to be quick with your gear changes though, as the engine speed builds up very rapidly, and you will be hitting the rev-limiter in no time at all.

On the way back, I had some fun with a Carrera 4S; I could run away just a little on acceleration, but the Carrera could keep up with me. Perhaps it was just a case of nerves, because after about 20 kilometres, the other guy seemed to fall back little by little, until he could not be seen at all. Don’t get me wrong; we were just going fast, not racing. I wanted to do a quick check on acceleration vis-à-vis the Porsche, and I think he wanted to do the same too. The result is inconclusive, but I would think that for a car that costs about a quarter of what the Carrera costs, it really is good.

Fuel consumption, considering the performance, and the way I drove the 370Z, is surprisingly good. We averaged 6.8 kilometres per litre of fuel, and that is a very commendable figure; it works out to 14.7 litres per 100 kilometres, and believe me when I say that because I have seen numbers on other performance cars that are reading something like 20 litres per 100 kilometres. Driven sedately (as if anyone buying this car would), you can get at least 20 percent better.

Overall, the Nissan 370Z is a great car, with plenty of muscle, and very flexible muscles at that. In terms of performance, it really out performs many of the continental makes that have price tags more than double the price of the 370Z;
The price of RM370, 000 (on-the-road with insurance, private individual) seems cheap then.

www.autoworld.com.my

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