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.

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


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 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.
The comparison between the 370Z and a Mustang GT is like comparing apples and oranges. The Z is a high quality vehicle, while I hate to say it, the Mustang is a cheaply made product. The performance comparison is interesting, because the 370Z Nismo will launch 0 to 60 in 5.0 seconds, the same time as the Mustang GT, even with 70 or so less horsepower! Who needs a V8 with performance like that? I guess the truly power hungry drivers might. The Nissan really looks exotic also. Compare it with a Porsche please. Never a domestic sports car. It's apples and oranges.
With a porsche? Show how you have never owned any of the 2. I own both and the mustang is the much nicer car. The z is a stiff chassis with cheap interior(especially on base and my 2009 nismo) with a really good drivetrain. Track= Z Everything else= mustang Comes from a former jap csr freak
Because Nissan is trying to sell as many Zs as they can and the average American buys their products due to headlines. Seeing the Z come in 70hp less than the mustang at a higher price reduces traffic into Nissan showrooms and less traffic means less potential customers. It's a lose, lose situation every time. Why do you think some products sell wildly on marketing alone even though they're overpriced garbage? *cough*apple*cough*
The comparison between the 370Z and a Mustang GT is like comparing apples and oranges. The Z is a high quality vehicle, while I hate to say it, the Mustang is a cheaply made product. The performance comparison is interesting, because the 370Z Nismo will launch 0 to 60 in 5.0 seconds, the same time as the Mustang GT, even with 70 or so less horsepower! Who needs a V8 with performance like that? I guess the truly power hungry drivers might. The Nissan really looks exotic also. Compare it with a Porsche please. Never a domestic sports car. It's apples and oranges.
I agree with several of the comments, regarding the 370Z, being rare. I like that, be unique, rare. I purchased a 350Z in 2006 (still have it and it's running like a champ at 139,000 miles), and the only issue I had was the lack of the back seat. It was a little frustrating when I had to pick up my daughter from school and her friend needed a ride. Have a little back seat would be nice, but only had that problem 6 times in about 6 years. The Z is a poor man's Cayman and shouldn't be compared to Mustangs / Camaros / Challengers. It would be nice if Nissan could turbo-charge their V6 (1 Turbo) and keep the price about the same. They will push more cars, but let's face it... It's a single man's car. When I looked to purchase a used 350z, almost ever private seller, was selling it because they were starting a family or something similar. Compare the Z to a Porsche. Nissan built GTRs to compete with 911 Turbos. 350Zs / 370Zs to compete with "lower-end" Porsches. There is a reason Porche sold about the same number of Cayman and Boxster units as Nissan sold 370Zs, about 7900 units in 2013.
Bought my wife a 2012 370Z sports package. She loves it. She drove a Vette, Caddy CTS she didn't feel comfortable in those vehicles. The Z is very different. If you need rear sears by all means buy a Camaro or Mustang. If this is your only car don't buy it. It is impractical having only two seats. But on the positve side it is fun to drive. When we need more room we take my 2014 Ram 3500 out. Yes apple and oranges. The Z stands alone and isn't on every corner like a Camaro or Mustang. Those are great cars but she wanted something different. Next time I hope she wants the Vette.
As European guy, there is one criterea that is not mentionned: aesthetic. The Z is so beautiful that I forgive its imperfections ! Anyway, no car is perfect, what you gain in one hand, you loose it the other...
This is a really facile argument. Look at the power-to-weight ratio of these cars when you compare them. Furthermore, roads are not exclusively straight, they contain curves and corners. Most imports will eat your muscle car for breakfast in the curves - and that's a fact. Enjoy your time on the drag strip, ill be in the mountains doing passes.
When I was looking for nice used vehicle last year, I had my heart set on a 350z or 370z (stick shift). I test drove quite a few of them, then I started test driving G35s and G37s. As much as I loved the Z cars, practicality started to come into play, and I ended up buying a G37S Sport Coupe 6MT, which is basically a 370Z 2+2. I needed that extra room that the G37 provides, being that it's my only vehicle. But I REALLY love the 350z and 370z! It doesn't get any funner than driving those cars! The G37, with its lower torque and larger heavier frame, doesn't have the same punch as the 370z, but it's still damn powerful on the road! I'm more than satisfied.
My daughter was all set to buy a 2016 Nismo 370Z but with such low seating, no power seat and such a high dash, she could not see well through the windscreen. Sales people offered a seat pad but no deal. Why would Nissan make a $50,000 car without adding a power, tilt drivers seat. No consideration for female buyers that are 5 foot 2 inches tall. Lost that sale. Lon
All dew to weight of the car. Sport cars are not made to be comfortable there made to be sexy, go fast and stick you to the seat and the car to the road. when you have a sport car usually you don't like sharing your car. So don't need to move the seat. Only time I move my seat is to vacuum under it lol. You want all the luxury stuff in the car? Get the Maxima not as fast but close enough and it comes with all the bells and whistles. Check out the new 2016 maxima and the new 2 door Altima!! Talk about sexy!!
Buy the Touring version if you want the power seats. Very nice inside and it raises. The Nismo is more of a race car that can be used on the track, built for that. And it doesn't cost $50,000.
I have a 2009 370z. One problem I have had is that the oil temp hits 220 degrees just driving around in Florida. I had to buy a oil cooler (about $500) and have the headache of paying someone to install it because you have to take the front bumper off and it is quite extensive work to install. Nissan says the temps won't harm the car. However, it goes into the limp mode and performance greatly decreases until you slow down or turn the car off and let it cool down. You can't really do much street racing in this car for very long without it over heating. I love the car though. My boss asked me why I didn't buy a BRZ or FR-S and I said I didn't wanna look like a high schooler. Really, you have to see the cars in person to compare. The 370z is unique and I want to look different than a common car you see every day. Where I live, I have only seen about 3 of the 370z. I see tons and tons of mustangs and cameros. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have bought a used 2005 - 2007 corvette. I do love my Z though. It reminds me of high school when the Datsun 280zx was the car back then !
I think you got conned. The manual says it can go as high as 280 degrees. 220 is fine.
You are mistaken. The 370z is crazy fast and unlike the clunky mustang, it knows how to take a corner. MUSTANGS, CAMAROS, CHARGERS, AND CHALLENGERS CANNOT CORNER FOR SHIT. The 370z is absolutely perfect because it combines great power with amazing handling, thus being a superior SPORTS car. If you want a clunky muscle car that can't track race for shit, then buy a mustang and look like a douche. If you want a real sports car that will glide over the track with ease, then buy a 370. Doesn't even have to be a nismo. Any 370 would destroy a mustang gt on the track. Also, the genesis coupe is a piece of shit compared to the 370. It's heavier, its 0-60 time is much much slower, and its suspension sucks ass. If you actually knew what you were talking about, you'd be bashing on mustangs as opposed to the 370. I HAVE OWNED BOTH A CHALLENGER R/T AND A 370Z TOURING.
I have both the 370Z and a tricked out Camaro SS with over 636hp and custom suspension which is identical to the Camaro Z/28 which has better track times than the GTR. American muscle isn't what it used to be; they can corner very well. The 2014 370z is a fun little car but try taking a turn, hit a bump, or go over a bridge and you are holding on for your life (absolutely no control) unlike the GTR or the Camaro. The much heavier Camaro allows me to take a turn at 180 mph plus with one hand on the wheel. I need both hands on the wheel at 100 mph on the 370Z. Sure a 370Z is better than a a six cylinder base mustang, camaro, or challenger. I love both cars but if my life depended on one I would pick the Camaro. The 370Z is way too light which is great at the track (1/4 mile) but I would never take an exit ramp at 150 mph with a 370z unlike the Camaro.
Sounds like this review really pushed your button. Like the guy says comparing a 370Z to a Mustang is like apples and oranges. Two different beasts. That is the flaw of this article. Why not compare a cheetah with a horse.
Sounds to me like yall forgot the essence of a TRUE sports car. When real sports cars first made their appearance they didnt even come with ac/powersteering, radios or any of the useless rear view cameras, seat warmers and all that other cookie cutter gadgets that take away from the driving experince, im a proud 2014 sports package 370z owner, ive raced scat packs, hell cats, z28 camaros, evos, genisis, 5.0 mustangs and they all fall short performance wise, you guys arent even considering wieght to horsepower ratio. The Z has definitely proven itself a true competitor and even the base model is spitting out a decent 320 horsepower. If youre looking for back seats, cargo room, premium sound system or top of the line model without it costing you a pretty penny, my friend youve lost youre reason to buy a SPORTS CAR. Yall are comparing apples to oranges
Not enough power? Why doesn't Nissan take their very own VK56 and drop it in a Z car? You've got 420HP right there. Mate it up to a nice six speed manual, and you've got a Mustang killer right there. I just have to wonder why Nissan WOULDN'T consider doing this.
If Nissan wants to sell more sports cars, bring back and build a successor for the Silvia/240sx/S15 to compete with the Toyoburus and Mustangs. The "Z" nameplate is too iconic to downgrade it. Build the new Z with more power, and keep the production numbers somewhat low. The 350z/370z just didn't cut it - they were too underpowered and the design was nothing special. Would Porsche downgrade its 911? Do you think Toyota will downgrade their new Supra to compete with the Mustang?
The 370Z doesn't need a rear seat, it's a true sports car moron! Cars with rare seats are sports coupes not sports cars! 332 horse power and 278 lbs-ft of torque is more than enough power to make the 370Z a very fast car. The Z's short wheelbase, wide, low stance and lower curb weight will out handle the camaro, mustang or challenger on any track or curvy road. Since everyone else has a mustang or camaro I'll take the more exclusive, and stylish Z any day over any of the other cars mentioned in this article. Despite what the author says, the 370z is a great value and a lot of car for the money. The 370Z gets looks everywhere it goes!!
The mustang is a piece of shit first off. Idc how many are sold. Second the 370z beats the 5.0 in the straits. And in the turns. And price yeah you get a tad more in the stang for the price looks wise but not handling . And what has more power in the z class? 350hp in a 3.7 v6 at 3000lbs.. Nothing can touch it. Yeah its pricy becuase its a good car. Not some broke ass ford that crashes every other day and cant take a turn for its life.
Soon i will be buying a car i stuck between of them the nissan 370 z convertable. The look is crazy nice wow beautiful i love attention but after reading the reviews i am worry the inside being small is a big no no for me i need room . My second car choice is the challenger str8 6.1. Hell cat I have nothing bad to say on this one but costly in fuel . Your opinion would be appreciated i like both cars alot
This has got to be the most unfair comparison I have ever read. Comparing a sports car with a muscle car. Let's see, in 1960's he would compare a Triumph Spitfire with a Boss 302 Mustang. Yeah right. The author should have compared the 370Z to other sports cars. Like the Audi TT, the BMW Z4, the Porsche Cayman or Boxter, Mazda Miata, etc. I just bought a 370Z and I compared it to other sports cars, not muscle cars or the Hyundai Gensis which is a sedan. Why didn't he compare it to BMW 2 series cars. Oh yeah the reason it doesn't sell is because it isn't marketed very much. Can't sell something that people don't know about. Nissan has always done a poor job in marketing. And I know it is a hot car, because every time I take it out, someone compliments me on it. One last thing. The driver and passenger have amble room inside, much more than the BMW Z4, Audi TT, and Mazda Miata. But not as much as a Mac Truck!!! Randy
I am not trying to compare both cars i want to know witch one i will be the most happy with . i like both car equality i just never had one and those are my 2 dream cars and im not sure what to go with
MY CREDENTIALS: I have owned five Ford cars and two of them were Mustangs (I still own one.) I currently drive a 2010 370Z and it is primarily my track car. (I also occasionally drag race my Mustang.) Before buying my Z, I test-drove it back to back against an RX-8, a Boxster, and a Mustang GT which were all within a couple thousand dollars of one another. MY OPINION: As already stated, the Z fits in-between the FR-S and the Cayman S in terms of feel and performance. For the people who argue that it is too expensive or has too few seats, I urge you to take your car to the track. Seriously there's no point in arguing about sports cars until you try some track events and then get back to me. Your Mustang or Camaro or Charger or Challenger are poor track cars. They're great at burning rubber or racing from stoplight to stoplight or throwing a case of beer in the back seat, but unless you have the much more expensive Boss 302, if you take them on a track or aggressively drive along a curvy mountain road, then your brakes will fade, you'll have no fun in the curves, and your engine will likely overheat or smoke. You'll be passed by Miatas and FR-S/BRZs all day. For the record, the Z also suffers somewhat from weight, brake, and cooling issues. However, it is better than the domestic muscle cars of the same price range and is vastly more fun to drive. Arguing about price is ridiculous since the most performance-comparable Mustang is the GT Premium, which costs almost identical to the Z. The Z isn't as fast in a straight line but anywhere with turns, they're equals. The Mustang GT is actually a fantastic car and very quick but the Z is undeniably more fun to drive given the lower weight. The comment was made that if I'm just looking for driving fun, and handling, then why not buy a FR-S or BRZ for cheaper? That's a great point but the Z does some important things much better. Firstly, it comes with a stiffer/better suspension than the Toyobaru twins. It has a wider track, and wider wheels/tires, and although it is a bit heavier, It also has about 130 hp more power. The result is a much better power:weight ratio. If the Toyobaru had about 65hp more, then even though it would still be less power than the Z, it would be the better sports car IMO because at that point, the handling advantage would be greater than the power:weight disadvantage (Which is the scenario enjoyed by the Cayman S currently but is much more expensive.)
So many wrong facts here.
I will tell you that I loved my Z350 Roadster (2006) - drove it for almost eight years before having some issues. Oil pressure was very low during idle. Found out I had a stress crack in the upper oil pan near the send unit. Maybe a common thing in my particular model. The Z350 got a lot of attention and was fun to drive especially on nice days with the top down. Then it was time to decide which car I would get to replace my Z350 (almost 200k miles on it) – I narrowed it down to a Z370, GTR or a Shelby GT350 – all 2017 models. Lost a lot of nights sleep due to the decision making lol! All great cars! Cost (car and gas mileage) wise the Z370 wins but I was willing to forgo the $$ to include more thrills. Finally, I chose the Shelby GT350 (2017 model includes the track package as standard option) and I cannot say enough about this car. The six generation mustang can now corner due to the rear independent suspension and that 5.2L flat plan crankshaft engine purrs! In the end nobody really loses since they are all winners! We have so many choices today! Just enjoy them and have fun on the road. T