For those who bemoan the loss of old-fashioned sports cars in today’s world of crossovers and electric vehicles, the 2019 Nissan 370Z is here to cheer you up. It’s about as raw as it gets – rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated, and even a manual transmission. Sadly, other aspects of the 370Z are stuck in the past as well, like the interior and the safety features. We forgive it a little because of its unapologetic charm, but this is a car best driven by purists.

Best Value

All trims get the same engine, which produces 332 horsepower (except in the fiery Nismo, where it’s tuned to 350 hp). But the Sport trim adds a few features that let drivers really enjoy their 370Z, and we think this is the performance sweet spot. These features include a limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels, and a rev-match system for the manual transmission. Nissan throws a Bose audio system in for good measure.

Outside of exterior color, options are pretty much nil. That’s okay with us – all models come with a few handy features like keyless ignition and a rearview camera, and we don’t need too many frills on a sports car like this one. Ours would look like this:

  • Model: 2019 Nissan 370Z Sport Coupe
  • Engine: 3.7-liter V6
  • Output: 332 hp / 270 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 17 City / 26 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $34,605 (including an $885 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $34,605

Performance

The Nissan 370Z is a joy to drive. The manual transmission is quick and responsive, especially with the rev-matching system. Grip is plentiful, and the short wheelbase helps the 370Z feel nimble in the corners. The suspension is willing and sensitive, and the naturally aspirated engine means revving without a hint of turbo lag.

Steering response is a little more distant than some competitors, and the ride isn’t great at soaking up bumps and imperfections in the road (especially with the 19-inch tires). The engine note can be harsh as well, although trims above base have active noise cancelling to offset any drone. With combined numbers that barely break 20 miles per gallon, fuel economy is decent at best.

Style

Other than a few new paint colors, the 2019 Nissan 370Z doesn’t change a formula that's worked for decades. The teardrop shape is stubby and distinctive, and the 370Z’s short overhangs give it an aggressively low-slung look. The Nismo model adds extra bodywork and aero scoops, but we prefer the clean lines of the original coupe. The cabin is big enough for wide, deeply padded seats that fit a variety of body types.

On the downside, the interior also feels decades old. Seats are basic cloth until the highest trims, and hard plastics grace many surfaces. Although seating is comfortable, cargo space is practically nonexistent at 6.9 cubic feet. The 370Z comes in a few different levels of luxury, but customizability tends to be limited. Because of the aging platform, safety tech is hard to come by as well – no models offer features like adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring.

The Best and Worst Things

A willing manual transmission in a heritage sports car will always bring smiles to our faces. But as much as we love the old-school charm, we wish Nissan would give the 370Z a proper update to bring it into a more civilized era.

Right For? Wrong For?

The Nissan 370Z is right for drivers who love an unfiltered experience. Cars this direct and responsive are increasingly uncommon even in performance circles. The fun factor is high, and those who appreciate carving corners will be at home in the 370Z.

It’s wrong for those who expect refinement (or even practicality) with their performance. Drivers who need to carry more than one friend (or one suitcase) had best apply elsewhere, as should those who expect the manners or interior of a Porsche.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Nissan 370Z comes with compromises, but it’s refreshingly honest about its nature. It’s a proper sports car with engaging performance and iconic looks, and it refuses to apologize for being a little rough around the edges. It’s not for everyone, but we’re glad it’s still around, especially at such a reasonable starting price.