Nissan 370Z coupe

£27,860 - £38,050

The Nissan 370Z is an extremely individual sports car. It’s touted by Nissan as a spiritual successor to the original 240Z of the late ‘60s, a car that many saw as a cut-price Jaguar E-Type. It’s a case of history repeating itself, because today’s 370Z is pretty close to being a cut-price Jaguar F-Type.

The heart and soul of the 370Z is its 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine, delivering 322bhp to the rear wheels and allowing a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds, or an enormous amount of wheelspin if you prefer. If that’s not enough, there’s a Nismo (Nissan Motorsport) version available, lifting power to 339bhp and reducing the acceleration time still further.

This brute force is wrapped in a body with suggestively swollen rear flanks and unambiguously sporty styling, leaving you in no doubt as to what the car is all about. It contrasts sharply with the subtle, restrained styling of the BMW Z4 and makes a Porsche 718 Cayman look almost understated by comparison.

Despite its uniquely brawny appeal, the 370Z always gets lumped in with these other compact sports cars, a grouping that it doesn’t fit in with comfortably, especially when the Audi TT is included, too. The clean, user-friendly, Volkswagen Golf-based TT could hardly be more different from the Nissan, which is more of a brutish muscle-car than a sharp-suited coupe. Powerful versions of the latest Ford Mustang are a closer rival.

The Nissan is also a car that demands respect and doesn’t encourage lazy driving. Although the chassis is up-to-date and it handles well, it lacks the soft edge that makes a Z4 or Mercedes SLC welcoming and approachable. Instead, it forces you to be committed to driving at all times in order to get the most out of it. And if you do, it delivers the kind of exhilaration you usually have to pay a lot more for.

Of course, the 370Z is still a Nissan, and that means it’s easy to jump in and pootle around at low speeds just like any other car, using fractions of its overall capability. There’s nothing intimidating about it at all – until you ask it to be – and many say that this is where the car’s magic lies.

Accommodation is snug and glove-like, with comfortable seats that hug you in position. Once you’re installed, you become part of the machine and there’s very little room to fidget. The steering wheel is only height-adjustable and the dials move with the wheel, so try before you buy. There are no seats in the back, either – another clue of the single-minded nature of the 370Z.

Value is definitely a 370Z strong point: the entry-level model lists at £27,860 and it’s difficult to imagine getting much more muscle for your money. A more luxuriously kitted out GT version with a Bose stereo and sat nav is £32,960, with the full-house Nismo coming in at £38,050. In truth, it’s doubtful that many people are experienced enough to see the benefit of the Nismo’s extra capabilities.

No question, the 370Z has a narrower range of skills than its more easy-going Z4 and SLC rivals. The Porsche 718 Cayman is closest in how it rewards the driver, while the Audi TT is poles apart in terms of character. If you’re looking for personal driving fulfilment with little garnish, the 370Z does what it says on the tin.