The modest improvements made to the Nissan 370Z for the 2018 model year will not result in an increase to the sports car's base price.
In the United States 370Z pricing will start once again at $30,875 including an $885 destination and handling charge, Nissan announced today. But the Japanese automaker believes the 2018 370Z, while still very much the same sixth-generation car it’s been since the 2010 model year, is better than the 2017 car.
You can’t get a manual transmission in a 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS. You can’t get a manual transmission in a Ferrari 488 GTB. Yet for its ninth model year, Nissan saw fit to improve the 370Z’s manual experience.
How ’bout that?
All 2018 370Zs, Nissan says, "feature a new motorsports-inspired Exedy high-performance clutch." After working with Nissan Motorsports in what Nissan calls a longstanding relationship, Exedy developed a light pedal effort clutch for the 370Z, which Nissan says enhances "driving response."
There are other changes to the 370Z for 2018, though most are predictably minor. Darker lights front and rear, new 19-inch wheel designs, a new shade of red paint, and a Heritage Edition for the basic 370Z with yellow paint and black graphics, or black paint and silver graphics. Nismo Zs wear GT-R-like Dunlop tires with less rolling resistance, less road noise, and "the current handling performance."
Conventional 370Zs produce 332 horsepower from a 3.7-liter V6; 18 fewer than the 370Z Nismo and no better than the Z launched for MY2010. But Nissan says for 2018 the 370Z’s V6 is "enhanced through optimized acceleration and torque profile tuning."
Nissan’s commitment to the 370Z’s manual transmission isn’t terribly surprising given the model’s age — why change now? Yet in a market that increasingly turns away from the three-pedal format, and with competitors increasingly less interested in offering a DIY shifter, it’s nevertheless a welcome turn of events.
Nissan isn’t merely paying lip service to the manual transmission with these 2018 improvements, either. Roughly one third of the 370Zs currently stocked at Nissan’s U.S. dealers, according to Cars.com, are equipped with a manual transmission.
An improved clutch will not, however, spur 370Z sales to new heights.
The return of the Z 15 years ago brought about peak U.S. sales (of the 350Z) in 2003, its first full year. From that high water mark of 36,728 sales, Z volume declined in five consecutive years before perking up slightly to 13,117 units with the launch of the 370Z in 2009. 370Z volume then held largely steady between 2011 and 2015 before falling to a low of only 5,913 sales last year.
Through the first-half of 2017, the 370Z is down 17 percent to only 2,489 sales. Buyers who don’t want the six-speed manual continue to have the option of a seven-speed automatic.
A version of this story originally appeared on The Truth About Cars
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