Originally Posted by jetpilot747
I believe the 370Z is at least ~300 pounds lighter when both interiors are fully stripped. The 370Z can definitely run with the E92 M3 in Grand-Am Racing. Which car do you guys think would be a better car option for the regular consumer like us? Discuss.
As others stated, there are plenty of good choices for cheap track cars to also take in consideration, including s2k, miata, c5 z06 corvettes, 350z, e36 m3, and i may also add older subaru sti and lancer evo too and also mazda rx7.
If you are set on a 370z or m3, then let me help you out. First of all, ignore the rants of the badge whores and snobbish idiots on this forum. Unlike most people here, I actually owned a z for 2 years and took it to the track regularly just like i take the m to the track now. In fact it was only when the z got totaled in an accident that i got the e90 m3. Here I am in the M
And the Z
So let's compare the two cars.
Firstly, let's get the obvious out of the way. What the M easily trumps the Z on is comfort, refinement, luxury, practicality, and daily drivability. One is a noisy cramped back to the basics sports car, and the other is a bigger softer luxury grand tourer. Of course none of this matters in a race car. And anyway if you really plan on racing an M3 then you would surely get rid of the sound insulation and the luxurious interior anyway. It's the easiest way to reduce weight and gain performance.
When it comes to the drivetrain, both are good. Contrary to what some say, the VQ37 is a damn good engine. A 3.7 L engine that revs to 7500 rpm, produces 330 hp (easily increased to 360-370 hp with intake, exhaust, and tune) and 270 lb ft of torque. It runs on garden variety 5w30 oil (though synthetic is preferred, and a thicker oil is better for a race application). It doesn't burn as much oil as the M3 engine, and yes it actually has a dipstick! And more than that, the engine is cheap too! (How much does that S65 cost again?
) Yes the engine is noisy and thrashy, but nothing is perfect. If such trivial issue is the biggest complaint, then you know you're getting a good engine. The gearbox is a bit clunky, but no more so than the M3 gearbox. Actually the shifter on the Z was at least a bit more direct and less rubbery than the one in the M, which arguably is one of the worst shifters in any modern performance car. At least the Z comes with a proper shift light. Thanks for nothing BMW
And if you opt for the sport package, you get that awesome synchrorev match feature so you don't have to worry about heel and toe downshifts anymore.
As for brakes, I can't comment on base model because I had the sport package. With that you get 14 inch front and 13.8 inch rear rotors, i.e. bigger than the m3 rotors! You also get 4 pot front and 2 pot rear calipers. With proper pads and brake fluid, the brakes were pretty good and fade resistant. They are powerful enough to stop the Z on a dime and stay consistent lap after lap. by contrast, the m brakes are garbage. Even with pads and fluids I still got more brake fade than the z, and the pedal was inconsistent and gave little feel and made modulation difficult. They just don't inspire confidence. Perhaps it has to do with the calipers being cheapo single piston sliding calipers, or the pads being microscopic in size. And I'm sure the excess fat on the M doesn't help either. The M rotors are ok, but you really must have a bbk for any serious racing. so that's an added cost to keep in mind. by contrast, the z sport package brakes with proper pads and fluid and cooling ducts can suffice if you aren't doing any prolonged sessions or on a track that is excessively demanding on the brakes.
As for performance, the M has a slight advantage in acceleration. The Z is plenty fast, but the M has more power, and despite the weight penalty still has a small edge in a straight line. As for handling, both cars feel and handle similarly. But I personally find the M's steering to be a bit lacking in feedback and a bit over-assisted, even in sport mode. The Z's steering felt a bit more connected and a bit less artificial to me. As for cornering, both cars have mild understeer which can be shifted back to neutral with a bit of throttle. But the Z had a bit more camber at the front. So, the understeer was a bit easier to deal with. The excess weight (in addition to the longer wheelbase) really makes its presence felt in the M. The understeer is more pronounced. And the M is definitely more sluggish than the Z during fast transitions and S turns.
Overall, I found the M to be marginally faster on big tracks with sweeping turns and long straights. But on slower, more technical tracks which emphasize handling, the lighter and more compact Z is just as fast as the M, and may even be a bit faster too! For your reference, I timed myself to be about 1 second a lap faster in the M at shannonville and cayuga, and no faster at all at mosport ddt.
And lastly, maintenance and repairs are definitely much cheaper on the Z than the M. And that's important from a cost containment perspective. Not to mention that like any japanese car, the Z has a much bigger aftermarket for parts than the M, and you don't have to sell your house to afford those parts either, like you have to do with the M.
Oh I almost forgot. The idiot dumbass jap engineers who made that cheap rice noisy Z forgot to drill a ginormous hole in the powersteering reservoir cap. So unfortunatley, when at the track driving, it doesn't coat your entire engine bay with some nice, fresh, shiny powersteering oil like our fine "german engineered" "masterpiece" M3 does!