The 2013 Nissan 370Z
Patrick Rall's picture

Three simple reasons why the Nissan 370Z cannot compete in the US

We used to include the Nissan 370Z in our monthly rear wheel drive performance car sales piece but due to the extremely slow sales of the Z car, we dropped it from our monthly sales comparison. After receiving complaints from a handful of Japanese performance enthusiasts who thought that we should include the sporty Nissan, we wanted to take a look at just why the 370Z struggles to compete in the US market.

I should begin by explaining that Nissan sold just 7,338 examples of the 370Z Coupe and Roadster in all of 2012. Ford sold more Mustangs in that in a single month six times last year en route to selling a total of almost 83,000 units on the year. That gross difference in monthly sales was why we stopped mentioning the Nissan 370Z in our muscle car sales piece each month. However, even if you look at the sales figures of the new Scion FR-S, the sporty Scion crushed the Nissan in 2012 annual sales.

The problems with the Nissan 370Z, as I see them, are that it costs too much, it’s too small inside and it lacks the level of power of the other cars in the class – even those which are less expensive than the Z. Don’t get me wrong; the 370Z is a well respected performance car but over the past few years, the sporty Nissan 2-seater has lost a great deal of ground to the other options in the rear wheel drive performance car class.

3. Pricing – The 2013 Nissan 370Z is available in five different configurations as a coupe with the price ranging from $33,120 to $43,020 along with three configurations as a roadster with the price of the droptop ranging from $41,470 to $47,000. Compare those prices to those of the current Ford Mustang (not including the high performance Shelby GT500) with the Mustang coupe prices ranging from $22,200 to $34,750 and the Mustang convertible ranging from $27,200 to $39,750. If you configure a base model 370Z coupe with a manual transmission and the destination fee you have an MSRP $33,910. That is only $1,635 less than the 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium which has far more content inside (leather, gadgets, etc) along with a great deal more power from the Mustang’s 5.0L V8 while also being more than $10,000 more than the entry level V6 Mustang coupe. Worse yet, if you configure a 370Z Nismo coupe with the Bose sound system, the MSRP of $45,160 is only $710 less than the 470 horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT8 392.

Some Nissan 370Z enthusiasts will be quick to point out that the 370Z suffers in sales due to a lack of a proper V8 (a point which we will address on its own below) but even if you compare the 370Z to another Japanese sports car that doesn’t have a V8, the Z still struggles to compare. The Scion FR-S moved 11,147 units in the US last year in its first year of production and while the performance measures are vastly higher for the 370Z, the least expensive 370Z starts almost $8,700 more than the Scion. Also, there is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe that starts at about $5,000 less than the 370Z even though it offers similar performance with 348 horsepower.

Nissan issued a significant price cut for their all electric Leaf to help it compete with the new entries in the segment and the company would be well advised to do the same thing with their 370Z.

2. A tiny interior with no rear seat – Let’s be real honest here…the back seats of the Ford Mustang and Scion FR-S are barely big enough to comfortably fit an average adult but in the long run, those cars do have the option to squeeze in two extra passengers. On the other hand, the Nissan 370Z doesn’t have a back seat in coupe or convertible form. This means that there is no option to squeeze in a couple extra adults nor is there room for a small family to seat a kid or two in the back. However, a buyer of the Ford Mustang, Scion FR-S, Dodge Challenger or Chevrolet Camaro has a back seat that can comfortably accommodate two children or two shorter adults. This alienates a great many prospective buyers who might not ever use the back seat for passengers but with those other models, those owners have the option to bring some friends on a ride or – more importantly – those models give younger families a chance to take their little ones on a cruise through the country. Beyond passenger space, the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, the Genesis Coupe and FR-S all have easy access cargo space in the back seat while Z owners will need to put their stuff in the trunk. You can throw a backpack or camera case in the back seat of most rear drive performance models and get right to that parcel from the front seat without any issue but 370Z owners lose that ease of loading small cargo.

Considering that every other car in the segment has a back seat, the Nissan 370Z is at a tough disadvantage to the competition and this problem is compounded by the fact that a back seat isn’t something that you can just dial up. The company can lower the price or add more power but it is much more difficult to add a back seat – or a cargo area that is more readily accessible from the driver’s seat.

1.Lack of performance
– When the Nissan 350Z was introduced for the 2003 model year, the 287 horsepower offered by the 3.5L V6 was about 10% higher than the 2003 Ford Mustang GT. From 2004-2009, Nissan gradually increased the output of the 350Z up to 306 horsepower so the Z car remained very close to the Mustang in terms of power output that had just 300hp in 2009. Nissan jumped out away from the Mustang a bit for the 2009 model year when the new 3.7L V6 was introduced with 332hp while the Nismo 370Z packed 350hp so the high price was justified by offering more power than the Mustang GT. However, when the 2011 Ford Mustang debuted with the new 412 horsepower V8, later increasing the output to 420hp – the Mustang left the 370Z in the dust. Even though the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro were not available when the 350Z was introduced in the US, those models eventually came into the picture and, like the Mustang, the new Camaro and Challenger offered considerably more power than the 350Z and 370Z. More importantly, the Nissan 370Z costs more than the majority of the available trimlines for the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger while offering quite a bit lower performance. Complicating the problem is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe which offers a naturally aspirated V6 with 348 horsepower which is also quite a bit less expensive. The Genesis Coupe doesn’t compete with the other rear wheel drive performance models in sales but it further deepens the talent pool in the segment.

The good news for the Nissan 370Z is that adding power should be the simplest problem to solve but you have to wonder just how much more Nissan can squeeze out of their powerful VQ Series V6 engine lineup. At this point, you would think that Nissan would either go to a force induction V6 that offers somewhere in the area of 400 horsepower or they could opt for a new V8 that would once again give the Z car a power advantage over the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger. Unfortunately, considering the level of performance among the “standard” V8 American muscle cars including 426hp in the Camaro SS, 420hp in the Mustang GT and 372hp in the Challenger R/T (which is priced similarly to the base model 370Z Coupe), it could be tough for Nissan to offer enough power to compete with the American muscle cars without further increasing the price.

The Nissan 370Z was introduced for 2009 so the current iteration is coming up on 4 years old…leading us to believe that there could be a new Z car in the pipeline. Unfortunately for Nissan, the high performance American muscle cars and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ have made the “affordable” rear wheel drive performance car segment much tighter than it was when the modern Z was introduced for 2003. Nissan could fix two of these problems by fitting in even a tiny rear seating area and packing in an extra hundred horsepower but the company will still have to face a massive price differential between itself and every other car in the segment.

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Comments

Having tried to buy a Z roadster, I would add that the dealership experience offered is more appropriate to a Versa costing $17K than a Z costing $50K.
It's too bad because I had a ton of fun in one of these both on the road and on the track. Frankly, because of their tiny size, they're more fun on the track than larger, though more capable sports cars often are. I thought of it as a Mazda Miata with balls. lol
The problem with the direction of being smaller and more nimble is that the Toyobaru twins are even more nimble...and theyre much cheaper.
Don't quite agree. Although the Toybarus are fun, load them up and you are over 30. For about the same you get a base model Z, and it will eat the Toybarus lunch. For about 8 Grand more you get a loaded Touring with Sports package which up's the Z's capabilities, performance, interior, and features at a flaming bargain price for the 8,000.00 spent, in this configuration the Toybarus aren't even on the map with regards to performance or fun. .99G /106 ft braking/0-60 about 4.7 /don't have to keep it on full boil to get some power, a different league entirely. From the limited experience I have had driving a FRS & BRZ, the Z is the better, "Performance" bargain, even in base trim.
I have to disagree. The Z is not really competing against the Toyobaru twins. Really it's competing against the American Muscle cars, the WRX/EVO (what's left of them) rivals and the Genesis Coupe. When taking all the competition into consideration, the Z can no longer compete on price/performance alone. Hell, I immediately dismissed the Z/G37 twins simply because of a lack of "value." I went with the Genesis Coupe Track that was the top of line line G-Coupe with all the bells/whistles, more interior room, more power and was within the same price as the baseline Z. With that, it's a no brainer, the Z loses every time.
I have to agree...I recently purchased a 2017 370 Z coupe, base model...The price alone guaranteed I would enjoy the car, but driving it sealed the deal...The Camaro and Mustang while notable, do not supply the thrill of driving a true Sports car..Interior space notwithstanding, I found it to be a big part of the sports car attitude, something the others could not emulate...Granted, the 370 Z does acquire some negative issues, one being rear visibility, but any true sports car purist will say, who looks back..It is a little difficult to enter and exit the 370 Z, but once you are in all the negatives disappear.. I found the clutch on mine a little difficult to manage, and the exhaust sound was a little to quiet for a sports car, so I purchased an Invidia Gemini exhaust.. Now it has a nice rumble and it does turn heads as I cruise the drag on Saturday night..In closing, the price is right, as is the handling...Dollar for dollar, the Z is my choice for the true sports car experience, and besides, who needs 450 plus horsepower on streets and highways with limited posted speeds...
Great analogy, up from a Miata, a bit down from a Cayman.
No excuse for that, happens across the board with all Manufacturers, bad dealers that is. My experience when purchasing our Z was quite different. No pressure, dealt on price like they wanted to sell, was treated with courtesy and respect, had no complaints w/dealer. As a matter of fact it was a pretty pleasant experience and it actually contributed to my decision to buy a Z.
Oooh They got u....They were really nice to u so u could buy thier car for the highest price possible
Your rationale to not include the 370z on your list of sports cars is rediculous! The fact that 7000 or so individuals bought this car last year is pretty impressive. It's a one dimensional sports car not really meant to compete with mustang challenger or camaro or genesis. Your argument is rediculous because do you also exclude other sports cars like the Miata, cayman, Boxster, z4, tt, that all have similar sales numbers to the Z? No probably not. The Z is a poor mans cayman s! You totally miss that fact. It's a muscly sports car, not a muscle car, yes there is a difference!
Simple answer: Example: Nissan recalled GTR steering locks in March 2010. (Nissan Service Campaign Bulletin NTB10-025 dated 18 March 2010) with owner's letter. The Z has exactly the same steering lock but was not recalled. The dud locks dump the owner anywhere/everywhere and Nissan can play hardball "blame the owner" games for being silly enough to pay for the car, get stranded by a known problem, and then be accused. Nissan rely on the dealer (however good or bad) for dogmatic warranty claim rejections without recourse to owner or a service rep. Dictatorship prevails. Nissan's recall in October 2010 of ignition relays went back to 2003 (don't they learn?) for 2.14 million cars (not Zs but who needs this scarcely accidental being dumped in the bush idea?) Check out various owner or trade sites. The 2009 Z cars were worst hit with "B" series locks. Nissan OK'd "C" series locks on GTRs but then moved on to Series "D" and then dumped the whole idea for 2012 production. No way to promote an otherwise lovely little car.
Nissan should come back with a retro 300ZX, kinda like Ford did with the Mustang. The 300ZX ist still in my opinion a beautiful car and was way ahead of its time. The 350 and 370 never really appealed to me.
I should add that I have driven the 2014 370Z on track last fall back to back with the 2013 Camaro SS. Both are in the same ballpark price-wise. On track the Nissan is much more fun. I could have driven the FR-S, but it was an automatic. Even though I constantly say paddle shifters make more sense on most cars, on the FR-S it does not do it for me.
sorry john goreham only way i can post my comment, it's nothing towards you. even though the 370z is a foreign car, i will buy it any day over the mustang,camero, or the toybura fr-s. it is a very very cool looking car. i love the fact that they only sold 7300 in a year versus 83k+ for the stang &camero that you seen 100+ everyday. i wan something that not everyone & his brother has. you can pick up a great used 370z for 21k-25k with under 30k miles. in it's stock form it's doing 0-60 in 4.7sec and a 1/4 mile in 13 flat. STOCK! which your not going to get out of any of the ones you mentioned. also you can get the 370z with a 7speed PADDLE SHIFT AUTO. that can shift faster than any human can. for under 10k you can upgrade the Z to over 500HP EASY. easily knock off a second on your 1/4 time & be under 4sec on your 0-60 time. you & everyone else keeps doting on the ford shelby gt500, which is a TOTAL JOKE. first off it ISN'T A FORD. it's a SHELBY. which should NEVER be included in any factory car test. it is no difference the a CALLAWAY OR HENNESSY CORVETTE/CAMERO. they are all built by a AFTERMARKET PERFORMANCE SHOP, NOT A BY THE MANUFACTURER. yet everyone wants to put the gt500 in tests against FACTORY car and say how great it is and how it beats everys factory car. well no (s)hit.i don't see anyone comparing it to a TRUE factory car like the CAMERO COPO. as far as the SCION goes yeah it's a fun LITTLE car for KIDS. so you and the rest of the LEMMINGS can all get in line and march to the same drum beat & dress like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and go roller skating. i'll take my 370Z & be happier then a pig in (s)hit, cruising along knowing i aint no lemming!!!
You are not accurate at all. SHELBY is made by SVT (Ford Special Vehicle Team), which is a department of FORD. Not an aftermarket company.
nope not correct at all. Google Shelby, it is an aftermarket company in itself.
NAILED IT! :)
It's a matter of preference. My boy has a 370Z and I have a Camaro SS. Granted it's not an even match as the Camaro has a Supercharged LS7 Engine that is tuned for 636 HP (daily driver gets 4 mpg). Two very different cars; The Nissan is light and quick but the heavier Camaro delivers a much smoother ride and top end. The Nissan aftermarket upgrades to money ratio is much lower ($10K) gets you 500 hp+ with the Nissan. The Camaro has over $135K in parts and labor into it. If the goal is fast 1/4 mile races the Nissan is the way to go. If you are looking for 200 mph top end, however, the Nissan will never hit those numbers. It would make sense to grab a 370Z over a V6 Camaro or other muscle car any day but if you are looking for supercar performance a V8 Camaro capable of pushing over 900 HP on the track is the way to go. Both are fun cars to drive but are very different in handling, speed and general purpose; In my opinion you can't pin the two against each other.
My 370Z new spec with supercharger, great car the fact that not many are sold is great, looks good and can actually go round a corner at speed without killing you and the fact that it's expensive and has no back seats who cares didn't buy it for the family bought it to have fun.
I have had my 2015 370Z Base in magnetic black for about two months now. Here's what I've learned in this short time frame, and I'm being completely honest. I have never in my life been complimented more about how cool this car looks. I get stopped at gas stations and people ask questions ect. Every single person on the road turns their heads and stares at the Z to the point where I had to get my Windows tinted not only for the look but because it was getting creepy knowing everyone was looking at me. Now as far as performance goes. I've raced a 347 stroked camed out completely built drag Fox body mustang with big wheels ect and beat it by a car length and a half. I've raced 2015 Camero ss and mustang gts with 420+ hp and it literally the best driver wins. The Z has no problem keeping up it's a matter of who launches better aka it's a driver's race. I see 100s of mustangs and cameros each day and I don't even turn my head to look anymore. This forum was obviously made by a die hard American muscle red neck
When you change from facts to name calling you lost... Have fun with your over priced plastic slug bucket.
At least I know a decade from now my Nissan still be worth $$$$$ and still will look sexy....also I know I didn't dump thousands of dollars into replacing part after part....i have a 95 Altima with 288,000 miles and 90% of it is still original parts... all I do is add gas n oil once a month. I don't think there is a American car with anything over 150,000 still on the road. If there is it's barely breathing and 90% of the parts have been replaced at least once
Very well said. I also like the fact that you don't see too many Z's around. Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes are common and you see them on the road all the time. Nobody pays attention to them. On the other hand, my red 2014 Z with a black carbon fiber hood gets lots of attention. A lot of girls walk up to me and ask me about the car not just guys. Most people don't even know what it is until they get close and see it's not a Porsche or some other douchey European car, it's a Nissan. As far as performance, GIVE ME A BREAK. 0-60 in 4.7sec is VERY RESPECTABLE. I don't care that X car is 1 second faster on the 1/4 mile. I didn't buy it to race it. I bought it for fun and because it really looks great, especially in red.
You are the real MVP
even though the 370z is a foreign car, i will buy it any day over the mustang,camero, or the toybura fr-s. it is a very very cool looking car. i love the fact that they only sold 7300 in a year versus 83k+ for the stang &camero that you seen 100+ everyday. i wan something that not everyone & his brother has. you can pick up a great used 370z for 21k-25k with under 30k miles. in it's stock form it's doing 0-60 in 4.7sec and a 1/4 mile in 13 flat. STOCK! which your not going to get out of any of the ones you mentioned. also you can get the 370z with a 7speed PADDLE SHIFT AUTO. that can shift faster than any human can. for under 10k you can upgrade the Z to over 500HP EASY. easily knock off a second on your 1/4 time & be under 4sec on your 0-60 time. you & everyone else keeps doting on the ford shelby gt500, which is a TOTAL JOKE. first off it ISN'T A FORD. it's a SHELBY. which should NEVER be included in any factory car test. it is no difference the a CALLAWAY OR HENNESSY CORVETTE/CAMERO. they are all built by a AFTERMARKET PERFORMANCE SHOP, NOT A BY THE MANUFACTURER. yet everyone wants to put the gt500 in tests against FACTORY car and say how great it is and how it beats everys factory car. well no (s)hit.i don't see anyone comparing it to a TRUE factory car like the CAMERO COPO. as far as the SCION goes yeah it's a fun LITTLE car for KIDS. so you and the rest of the LEMMINGS can all get in line and march to the same drum beat & dress like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and go roller skating. i'll take my 370Z & be happier then a pig in (s)hit, cruising along knowing i aint no lemming!!!
I don't think comparison to a Mustang makes sense at all. The Z is a sports car, its a defined segment, and in general sports cars are not selling that well. I would say the Z sold well in 2004 and now the body style is 10 yrs old and is not generating that much interest. The price is still reasonable, considering the level of performance you're buying.
Bought a 2014 Z touring w/sport package, nav., splash shields, illuminated rockers, nice license plate frames and walked out the door @ a tick above 43000.00 including tax, tags, dest. We bought it for it's intended purpose, which granted is quite defined. A Blast to drive, full fledge sports car, that is about as practical as a screen door on a submarine. Take it on the back roads, open it up and it has me smiling all week long. Always an abundance of torque and power, sticks like glue, has excellent steering, manual geared just right, wonderful Z exclusive exhaust note, you feel like you are behind the wheel of something special. The fact that it has no back seat, just about enough cargo volume to fit a case of beer, horrible rearward visibility, a clutch that requires mastering, ALLOT of road noise, (the first time you drive over gravel, it sounds like all hell broke loose), it just doesn't matter. Taking into consideration its warts and its strengths, and if you are buying it for the niche' it was designed for, a flat out sports car than can be used for a weekend getaway, a back road smile inducer that isn't afraid of a straight line, a car that that makes you feel like you are part of it, instead of just driving it, the Z is actually a bargain.
Except that in today's car climate, there are a wide swath of other cars that can do just that and be exponentially more practical on a daily basis. Some are even sold at a lower pricepoint. Don't get me wrong, I love true "Drivers" sports cars. Afterall, I still own an 88 MR2. But when it came time for me to buy another car, I couldn't justify buying another 2 seater. The Z was instantly disqualified.
I owned a 2007 Mustang GT, which I had supercharged, until this October when I bought the 2014 370Z coupe Touring (with Sport and Navigation packages). Just as the 2007 Mustang was undewrpowered so is the 370Z, and I'll deal with that at a later date. The 370Z is a much better car to drive, with a shorter wheel base, turning radius, and independent rear suspension, instead of the solid rear axle of the Mustang. After I supercharged the Mustang I was getting 446 RWHP and 434 ft/lbs of torque on under 8 psi from my Kenne Bell supercharger. I can get the same setup with a Stillen supercharger and easily get the same horsepower out of the V6 in the 370Z. Yes, out of the box the Mustang has more power, but in any race other than a drag race the Mustang will get left in the dust.
I (and everyone else) love the looks of my 2013 sport package 370Z touring coupe. I may not compete with a camaro in a DRAG race, but in cornering and shifting on a road race with my paddle shifts, I love to see the camaros almost lose control once they leave a straightaway.....and I feel like a go-kart while they look like a Buick Dynaflush just trying to hold the road. The main problem (already discussed) is the lack of space....like no back seat. If you find yourself, like I do, always driving by yourself, why feel like a big American gas guzzling wasteful iron cage going down the road when you can keep your car efficiency down to what style of driving you really need? In America, we seem to not want to give up on the "potential" carrying capacity and thus do not select a Z. I think more married men with a larger second car are potential buyers for the Z and a few gimmicks might turn sales around. Give it a V8 and more torque and watch the competition falter.

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