Among the rules for buying cars should be this: Thou shalt not buy a sports car for its luxury.
This isn’t to say that some luxurious cars can’t have sporty aspects. Certain BMWs and Mercedes come to mind, as well as some of the Japanese upscale brands like Lexus and Infiniti. In America, you can find power galore in beefy models ranging from Cadillac’s CTS-V to the new Dodge Charger, the latter being part of Daimler-Chrysler’s attempt to shove the testosterrific Hemi engine into every single model they make. But those are really modern-day muscle cars, where the amenities must still balance out the power.
You might think that power is what a sports car is all about, given the obsession with horsepower the infects so much automotive advertising these days. And a sports car should be powerful, in it’s own way. But there are other, simpler things a car should embody to be a sports car.
Namely, it has to be fast. It has to be quick. It has to be a two-seater (or, at least, have a useless back seat). And, when you’re sitting behind the wheel, it needs to tell you that nothing else matters.
Basically, if you’re wondering where the switch for the seat warmer is, you’re probably not sitting in a sports car. Otherwise, you’d be too busy sliding around the nearest set of S-curves.
The Nissan 350Z Track, a new model in a now somewhat aging line, carries on the sports car tradition with a screaming yellow flair. There’s not much to differentiate the 350Z Track from other configurations in the line-up — special wheels, standard 6-speed manual transmission, and that eye-searing paint job — but that’s how it should be. A sports car isn’t about choosing deluxe options from a list as long as your arm.
And that’s certainly the case here. Note the as-tested price of $35,700, just $1,200 over MSRP, which includes just one option, side and curtain air bags (and the usual destination charges). How nice to finally sit in a car that feels fine as is — no need for 10 to 20 grand in finer options.
What else would the 350Z need? It has the engine, a 300-horsepower V-6 powerplant that produces a pitch that’s pleasing to the ear. It has the Brembo brakes and high-end tires to help tame those curves you’ll be wanting to tackle. It has the distinctive design that sets it apart from most others on the road. And it has just two seats — you’ll never have to feel guilty about not hauling all your friends around town.
Could you ask for anything more?
Well, perhaps. While the 350Z is a treat when driving for the simple sake of driving, it can a little less sweet when the driving has an actual destination. The rear hatch at best can accommodate luggage for a two-person weekend trip. Of course, if you’re a gay couple who overpacks, you’ll have to leave something behind before heading out — maybe the boyfriend? Then again, when you lift the hatch you’ll find instructions for squeezing in two golf bags, so managing your Louis Vuitton probably wasn’t the first thing on the designers’ minds.
Like most sports cars, the 350Z isn’t particularly couple friendly. Even if your better half loves cars as much as you, riding will never be the same as driving. The rough ride and cramped quarters and minimal amenities that you forgive when behind the wheel can become intolerable when you’re banished to the passenger side.
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So get ready to fly solo. After all, everybody needs a little quality time with themselves on occasion. Very fast quality time, if you know what I mean.
To read more of Sean Bugg’s car reviews, visit www.metroweekly.com/gears.