Nissan 240Z Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Wednesday 6th December


What is it like to drive?

This is a very unintimidating classic car. Drive a Sixties Jaguar or Maserati or Alfa and there’s a sense that you’re using the best family China. That slight guilt of causing wear and tear to a beautiful and delicate object, that may crumble in your hands at any moment. It’s what’s usually known as ‘character’.

What the 240Z does is give the sounds and smells and sensations of late Sixties motoring, but with a sense of inherent toughness. The engine makes up for in response what it lacks in torque, building from a stuttery idle to a barrel-chested mid-range that’s BMW-ish in its warble and perky enough to still feel quick. I’ll be totally honest and say that, out of mechanical sympathy I didn’t bounce this Nissan Heritage car off its rev limiter, but the mid-range is joyously characterful. 

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Likewise, the gearbox is the same story. Instead of fingertip-toeing it around like the whole mechanism is made of glass, you can grab it by the scruff and manhandle it about, enjoying the long throw and pleasing heft of the whole action. It feels built to last, and built to be enjoyed. 

The steering’s less impressive – it’s feelsome of course, but rather heavy and rubbery feeling, but hey, it’s an elderly thing and we’ve had enough of two-turns-between-lock instafast, hyperlight steering. You listening, Ferrari? Oh. 

Titchy wheels and tyres give the car ride comfort that’s alien to all modern sports cars apart from an Alpine, but the body control is haphazard and you can feel the chassis flexing if you’re really leaning on it. Being a Japanese performance car with a big following in America, there are myriad tuning parts available, so you can easily stiffen the body up if you’re willing to get handy with the spanners – and compromise the originality.

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