The other week I was having lunch with a friend - a friend who knows a lot about cars. Now being the novice I am about all things automotive - minus of course the addiction I have to the BBC Top Gear program - I figured I would ask him what kind of car he would recommend for me to get.
Of course the most logical question, which he asked, was "what do you want out of the car?"
Now I have been recently thinking how cool it would be to own a Porsche in the not too distant future. But after some consultations with reality, and a non-interest in becoming best friends with a mechanic in overalls, I figured I needed to find an alternative to a Porsche.
So then, what did I want out of the car? I answered "American power, European handling." Seems simple right?
Well it's not. Some logical first choices were the BMW M3 and M5, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK 350, even the Crossfire. But between high repair bills for some, lack of wanting to wear a popped collar and a blue tooth in my ear as a requisite for owning others, and having an inadequate feeling in others - imagine being in a BMW Z4 and a Camaro comes up next to you. Stout and power against sleek and elegance. In America, one's masculine, the other feminine - or at least that's how I see it - I am against going for any of those.
Then there is the Volkswagen...did I mention the expense to maintain is a large part of the equation...
Then there is the Camaro and Mustang. Now I currently own a Charger which falls into this category too, so if you own one of these no offense but...What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see one of these cars? If you are being honest, you see it parked outside of a singlewide trailer while Billy is on the front porch (in a plastic chair and wearing a wife-beater) smoking a cigarette with a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other hand. You know you saw that same image. Therefore, they are out of the equation.
Then comes the Cadillac CTS-V. Now it's not what I call a pretty car, but its got the horsepower and - they claim - great handling. It fits the "American Power, European handling" guidelines. But...
How old am I? Oh yes, I am not on Medicare writing checks to Healthcare Reform Task Force every month. Sadly, the stigma of a Cadillac is that of a Lincoln Towncar. Elegance for the elderly.
But my friend did not give up on me. We continued the process of thinking and behold, we came across a car that fits everything I want in a car. It has American power, to the tune of 333 horsepower and a 13.3 quarter mile. It has European handling in that it comes in at 3300 pounds and has been likened to "BMW handling".
Also, and almost as important, if a trailertrash muscle car pulls up besides you when you are out on a first date, you not only will feel up to the challenge in how your car looks, you will be up to the challenge in a street race. So what car has this American Power with European Handling? Why of course it's the Japanese Nissan 370z.
Now personally I would go with the Roadster version, as it doesn't have the gaudy spoiler of the Nissmo version but gives better performance and handling than the base version (although you are giving up 20 horsepower by not going with the large wing). And also new, this car comes in at under $40,000. Very comparable to a Porsche Cayman (I know, not very impressive but still...) or even comparable in some aspects to the BMW M3 - while still coming in nearly $20,000 cheaper than either of them.
So when it's time for me to buy a weekend car, as of now I'm leaning towards the Nissan 370 Roadster.