My beloved Volvo S60, however, would not be satisfactory. Initially, this was a problem because, at the time, I was at Indiana University. Bloomington is 420 devastatingly over-patrolled miles from Pittsburgh, where my nearest changes of keys were sitting.
I was faced with a dilemma. Should I wait a few weeks to fiddle about in an XC70, or maybe have a spin in the ultimate driving machine? I think not. I got clever.
I drove to a local dealership where I noticed a 2010 Nissan 370Z Touring Edition with my name on it. Sitting there, glistening in the July sunset, it begged for attention. Like an abandoned puppy that needed to be rescued, I felt obligated to at least inquire.
A faint layer of dust along the front fairing of its, factory-installed, body kit showed that this 3.7-liter V-6 had been dormant for some time. A dot of rust marring the 12.6-inch vented brakes positioned behind 18-inch five-spoke, aluminum-alloy wheels reaffirmed my suspicions.
Before I could become any more distraught over this Nissan's latency, an eager salesman strutted my way dangling a small, shiny, object. Without even a handshake, the door locks popped and my excitement stirred. Two-tone, leather and suede sport seats engulfed my torso, locking me in the optimal position to control all 332 horsepower that would soon gush through the carbon-fiber driveshaft.
When the light turned green, 270 lb-ft of torque surged down the drive shaft, shaving the low-profile tires before bellowing out of gaping twin exhaust tips. My excitement mirrored that of the minutes following my first experience in triple-digit speeds. Disappointingly, the Indiana State Trooper waiting behind us, was not as captivated by this engineering masterpiece. Without as much as a shift into second, the sparkle of blue and red LEDs filled all 58.5 cubic feet of the cabin. Luckily, our infraction was merely an absent license plate and not something that would force this Z back to the dismal life it was enduring just moments before.
Once we lost the fuzz, the salesman encouraged me to "rape" the transmission. Jolted by the context of his verb choice, I consented--then became enchanted with the car's abilities. While a gentleman like myself would never consider such acrid treatment, the gas pedal did start to get heavier, then the clutch pleaded for attention. And once the clutch and gas were satisfied, I couldn't, in good conscious, ignore all of those gears. Which eventually catapulted 3,300 pounds of steel and glass far beyond posted speed limits, showing me firsthand that its 4.7-second 0-60 mph time was indeed factual.
Priced from $29,990 and as tested just shy of $40,000, the 370Z is a realistic option for a large portion of the sport-coupe market. Every movement feels so precise that drivers should not be surprised if their experience mimics that of higher-priced competitors--two-seaters with similar performance characteristics are Porsche's 911 Carerra and the Mercedes-Benz SL550, whose price tags are, respectively, the value of a small fleet of Zs.
For consumers looking to invest in a true performance coupe without exhausting the lot of their financial resources, a Nissan 370Z should top the list. Whether this car is kept stock or augmented, there should be little doubt that expectations will be fulfilled, if not exceeded, with this purchase.
Read TheCarConnection's full review of the 2010 Nissan 370Z, and get more photos, specifications and pricing data