2019 Nissan 370Z front three quarter ・ Photo by Nissan
Looking for 10 Nissan 370Z competitors to consider throws up a crucial point: There aren’t that many direct rivals — coupes or convertibles with a 332-horsepower V6 driving the rear wheels, especially with a heritage like the Z cars from Nissan/Datsun. But take the basic formula of a car aimed at enthusiasts, with a budget in the low-to-mid $30,000s (or mid-to-high $40,000s if a convertible is preferred), and several interesting choices spring up.
The 370Z is still wonderfully fun, despite its advancing years. Generationally speaking, it’s the oldest car in its segment. But there’s nothing wrong with a traditional front-engine/rear-drive layout and a decent amount of muscle. Let’s see what else might inspire.
The 2019 BMW 2 Series starts at $36,295 for the 248-hp 230i coupe. Sure, that’s a financial stretch for less power than the 370Z, but the German car’s well-balanced rear-drive chassis should be far more enjoyable. BMW really does know how to tune a driver’s machine, after all.
The 370Z has been around for 10 years, while the 2 Series is about five years younger. The difference in refinement and sophistication is marked. As for real-world speed, the 370Z can sprint from standstill to 60 mph in five seconds, but the 230i is only 0.3 of a second behind. The 230i coupe also has useful luggage space of 13.8 cubic feet plus a small rear seat; the 370Z coupe comes with 6.9. cubic feet and only seats two.
Photo by BMW
Revised for 2019, the Camaro is a direct rival to the 370Z. The 3LT V6-powered version has 335 hp and starts at $32,990. It comes with more standard equipment than the 370Z, including a limited-slip differential, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, navigation, and a Bose audio system Those items are optional in the 370Z, except for smartphone integration, which is unavailable.
The sprint to 60 mph is comparable, the Chevy crossing the line only 0.1 of a second later than the Nissan. The Camaro also has a superb chassis, a driver’s delight. This generation debuted for 2016, so it’s much newer than the 370Z. And even the more affordable version with a 275-hp four-cylinder engine is still a seriously fun machine.
Photo by Chevrolet
Admittedly, the Challenger is not as sharp-handling as a 370Z. Nor is there a convertible version. But the Dodge is priced from $28,690 for the rear-drive SXT trim powered by a 305-hp V6.
However, there’s a more intriguing path to follow. The 2019 Challenger R/T represents one of the most affordable ways to acquire a brand-new car with a V8, at $35,495 before options. That means 375 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque from a displacement of 5.7 liters, plus the kind of glorious soundtrack only an engine of this configuration can create while blasting to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. It’s not an obvious 370Z competitor, but it definitely shares the Nissan's broad attributes.
Photo by Dodge
Previous iterations of the Mustang offered a V6 engine, but the 2019 range is propelled either by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder making a pretty energetic 310 hp or a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 developing 460 hp. The basic coupe starts at $27,490, while the V8 version, called the GT, is priced from $36,450.
The Mustang is an icon. Despite all the history, though, the current model drives like the totally modern machine it is. A limited-slip differential is standard, along with a launch control (in versions with the manual transmission). The turbo four is able to send the car to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, while the GT accomplishes the same task in 4.6 seconds.
Photo by Ford
Yes, we realize the apparent folly in recommending a front-drive compact hatchback as one of 10 Nissan 370Z competitors to consider, but the Type-R is a special case. It has one of the most powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines available in a production car (306 hp), and its handling talents are remarkable — with driving modes ranging from Comfort to the track-worthy Plus-R. It will scoot to 60 mph in five seconds.
The bad news is that it costs around $36,600, but it comes with a lot of equipment and there’s so much more to it than the 370Z could ever offer. The other bit of bad news might be its manic styling, but the 370Z is hardly a wallflower.
Photo by Honda
Don’t think a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 181 hp is going to feel boring compared with a 370Z. Nor does the 5.4-second zero-to-60 mph time fully convey the spirit with which the MX-5 carries out its duties. This is one of the most poised and engaging cars to drive, a treat for the rookie and the expert alike.
It’s also one situation where the soft-top costs less, from around $27,000. Go for the RF (retractable fastback) model, which is only slightly heavier and offers a quasi-coupe experience as well as an open-topped vibe, and the outlay could still be about $33,500 before options. Make a point of test-driving this car.
Photo by Mazda
We’ve already included a front-drive hatch among our 10 Nissan 370Z competitors to consider, so it’s not such a leap of imagination to bring a Mini into the picture. And the John Cooper Works is the most driver-centric Mini there is. The suspension is race-car stiff, but that contributes to making this one of the absolute best-handling front-drive cars on the planet.
The chassis is so exuberant that it doesn’t particularly need more than the 228 hp its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine generates. If the ride is really too unforgiving, an adaptive suspension is among the options. With a starting price of $32,650 for this two-door hatchback, that could be affordable.
Photo by MINI
Think about it. It's a compact sedan whose standard all-wheel drive system and handling abilities have been honed and toned in the motorsport arena. The 268-hp turbocharged engine is set into a flat-four configuration, enabling a low center of gravity. The WRX won’t provide exactly the same thrills as a 370Z, but it’s still awesome in its own way.
Coming in at around $33,000, the WRX's Limited trim with a manual transmission would be our preference, since the automatic option is a continuously variable transmission. Those things are as popular with enthusiasts as flat tires. The sprint to 60 mph happens in 5.4 seconds, but the WRX’s big strength is its uncanny ability to take corners.
Photo by Subaru
The 86 is among our 10 Nissan 370Z competitors to consider not just because it’s a rear-drive coupe from a Japanese company, but also because it's a finely balanced machine with arguably stunning looks. Admittedly, the flat-four engine only serves up 200 hp, but the main point of the 86 is to bring a raw, no-frills experience. For young drivers getting to grips with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission, this is ideal.
For aspiring racers, the 86 has enough cargo space for a set of wheels and a basic toolbox. Drive to the track, swap on the racing rubber, do some hot laps, put the road tires back on, and drive home. Sounds like a day well spent.
Photo by Toyota
Volkswagen's maximally powerful all-wheel-drive Golf R starts at around $42,000, which is a little pricey for this crowd. The more affordable Golf GTI might seem underpowered in comparison to the 370Z, with 228 hp going to the front wheels.
But the GTI is such a complete, well-rounded package. The almost-premium cabin is quiet and comfortable enough for a long road trip, yet the front seats are still supportive through the curves. And that amount of power is perfectly adequate for public roads, even if the sprint to 60 mph takes 6.2 seconds. This car could be far more bearable over the long term than a 370Z. Starting at roughly $28,500, the GTI also gives you some leeway to move up to a higher trim level.
Photo by Volkswagen