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Even if I go to hell

Nissan 370Z GT Edition

01/04/2013 08:44 |  Comments: 

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Former car restorer, damper designer, rotary-engine guru and also an automotive engineer, but generally doesn’t talk much about his former activities. András is our mag’s Leatherman tool: when there’s a project no-one would poke with a stick, he’s the one usually assigned to carry it through. When he’s in Hungary, he works 16 hours daily, then every once in a while he disappears from the horizon. Last time he’s been seen in Auckland… Has a huge garage, lives with a girlfriend.

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Got to have it, no matter what. There’s no match for a truly hedonistic, decadent sports car that only behaves when you hurt it.

Max pulled on his jacket with his left hand, grimacing. He held the phone in his right hand: it felt warm and greasy after the long conversation. He had to take over to his left hand, so he could slip into the other arm. At that moment, the mobile moved a bit further away from his head, and he accidentally hang up with his ear.

Sorry, Sir, the line was cut off,”- Max's disciplined voice echoed in the staircase. He walked heavily down the steps, stopping at the turn. The timer switched the lights off and the factory building turned completely dark.

The analysis will be in your inbox by tomorrow morning, Sir.” The tone of his words could barely hide the fact that his knuckles were turning white. “Good night, Sir”.

Stepping out of the building, he felt a strong desire to smash his phone to the ground. With clenched teeth, however, he put it back in his pocket. It was his impeccable discipline that delivered him to the top level of this fancy, renovated old-school industrial building. He was famous for working overtime, his subordinates suspected that sometimes he stays in the office all night. But today, at about 10 PM, he couldn't stand the four walls, where he had spent the bigger part of his life over the last few years. He had to get some fresh air.

As the hot mobile in his pocket touched his limb, he kicked into the air with rage. It was one of those moments when he deeply hated the company. It was eating up his whole life. But as he looked up, his mind eased. Here it stood, – his reward after this murderous day.

Inhale the good, exhale the bad. He stepped towards the Z with a deep sigh. His reward – in every sense. He bought it from the bonus which was given for last year's record income, and he honestly felt that he deserved itHhe traded his good for nothing GS at once for a Prius+, which was better at absorbing the noise of the kids , and Anna also preferred it to the Lexus. Since then, he hasn't wanted to get out of the 370Z. He adored it.

So, he didn't want to hurt it now. He didn't take off with two thick black stripes on the cobbles behind him, although he very much felt doing so. The engine was cold, at least the oil temperature gauge, his favourite instrument leering from the middle of the dashboard, showed so. He put the lever into D and rolled out of the yard almost silently, with the engine idling.

He had to smile, because D reminded him, how his mates guffawed when they discovered that he had bought a sports car with an auto box. “Don't buy any more canned food, this is the final phase.” Of course he wouldn't have even touched it without trying it out first. He knew that a proper car not only drove at the rear end, it also had three pedals. His first one was an RX-7, he loved that one too, until the engine went kaput. Then he bought a Bimmer, a 2002 tii, with a gear stick, naturally. So sad, that rust destroyed it completely. Nevertheless he still remembered the two-door sedan of his wild twenties with sweet nostalgia.

Then came Anna and later the kids, and in the meantime he fought his way up to the board of managers, but these things didn't kill his passion for cars at all. So far, however, he had to be satisfied with the fake sportiness of the Lexus. He was looking for a better solution, but he couldn't find it. He had a strange feeling about keeping two cars, but it disappeared at the moment the bonus fell into his lap. Incidentally, on that very day, Jack called him, the Nissan guy who delivered the Qashqai for the company. Jack was a good lad, he knew how to suck up to Max: he never forgot to tell him, when an interesting car turned up at his dealership. “Why don't you try the new GT Edition, Max? Come on, give it a bash! You'll see, this new suspension has turned the Z into another car.”

Now, he had the same pitiful grin on his face that Jack couldn't see on the phone, but this time it was for his mates. Yeah, some stickers on the doors and a full-blown package for a discount price to boost the sales at the end of the model cycle – Max knew the auto business just well enough. But Jack talked him into dropping by after work one afternoon.

Since he tried the Roadster once, he didn't believe in the 370Z: in his memories it was an excessively strong, stupidly hard, overweight car. You had to wrestle with it for each and every corner, kick the overly hard clutch and brutally drag the stick for every gear-change. Naturally, Jack forgot to say on the phone, that the GT Edition he had was an automatic. Nevertheless he took it for a spin. And now he's sitting in his own.

At the petrol station he preferred not to look at the counter. He absent-mindedly let it run, he knew it too well that burning a gallon for less than fifteen miles is extravagance. But why possess a 3.7 litre V6 with 328 PS and not let it run wild? He won't toddle around just to reach 20 mpg.

Card or cash?”

Card. And some fags, please.” He gave up smoking after secondary school, but now he's started binging again. After this hell of a day he needed some breathing exercise. He took the longer way home to the suburbs, because he had a favourite place, where he usually stopped for a smoke nowadays.

The cigarette sizzled, as Max inhaled the first drag. He felt the nicotine diffusing intensively in his body members. He enjoyed how his arms started to relax, and he could switch off for a moment. He stared down on the lights of the city, and the adolescent joy of smoking secretly triggered a switch in him. The kids are already sleeping, Anna is dozing in front of some TV series. They wouldn't notice any difference, if he came home while they were asleep. Why shouldn't he go for a ride with the Z? Just for fun, like in the old days, with the Bimmer. God, when was the last time he did some prank like this?

This time, the two thick black lines behind Max are long, as he pulls out the car park. Rowdiness is not his play, but there's nobody here to be disturbed by the faint screeching of the tires over the brontosauric rumbling of the V6. With his right hand he pulls the gear lever towards himself, with his left he hits the ESP button. These two quick motions remind him how he used to slam down the visor on his helmet before going mad, when he still had his Yamaha.

They definitely wouldn't guffaw, if they knew both egos of the schizophrenic 370Z. In D it really can be withering, changing gears bone-lazy, crawling sleepily, like a tired worm. Just good enough to take home Max's exhausted body from the office, but that's all. Okay, it'll smear some rubber onto the asphalt, if you wish it – the naturally aspirated V6 wakes up immediately, no matter where you're tumbling. You'll sweep away the hypermilers at once, but the hesitation of the auto box kills the joy of driving for real. Perfect for traffic jams and motorway speeding, but in D it's not a sports car at all. It deserves a place on the podium of deplorable poseur cars.

But these two routine motions make the Z wrathful. You can take this for granted, because on every down-change command it will perfectly blip the throttle and lock the slimy gearbox. Max pulls out of the main road towards the forest with a discreet backslide and goes for it on the narrow two-lane. The shiftlight blinks, he pulls the flap behind the wheel, he's in fourth gear. He has to concentrate, the gearbox doesn't shift up automatically in manual mode.

Max is resettling himself in the bucket seat, moves it closer to the thick, nearly vertical steering wheel, and he can almost see how his adrenaline glands prepare themselves for the hard work.

After a few thoughtless months he has learned that he's got to beat the Z cruelly, he has to earn the pleasure, but the reward is worth it. As he pulls fifth, he doesn't notice the slight over-revving any more, as if the clutch was slipping. The Z is leaping forward with relentless determination, reaching 120 with a butcher's gentility. The engine may be dumb until 4000, but it raises its voice in the middle range, and some brutal, otherworldly snarl closes in from behind, to grab you with a raging howl just before reaching the limiter at 7500.

This character mesmerized Max right at their first encounter. One only realizes the necessity of this kind of overwhelming power at higher speeds. The hedonistic, naturally aspirated engine, which is always on call and the leather seats, lowered not more than a span from the asphalt, communicate with unmistakable words, that this is a serious, old-school sports car, which somehow managed to stay with us until 2012– a reminiscence of a world long gone. .

The working metal just a few inches from the toes is completely silent, the stimuli for the ears come from the rear end. Funnily enough one can even hear the tiny stones taken up by the tires, like in some race car, over the restrained grumbling of the exhaust. At moments like this, Max could die for a proper sports exhaust, to enjoy the full spectrum of the V6-sound. But he knows, he wouldn't tolerate it on that 500 mile-journey to Anna's parents.

But now, he bursts into the forest beyond any sane speed, and brakes hard before the first corner of the road winding up the mountain. He knows the oversensitive brakes, he can't wait until they warm up and have a better feel. A pull on the left flap, let's use the engine for braking in fourth. He wants to drop into third, which is appropriate for pulling out of the corner, but the gearbox won't let him. What's going on, the rev counter says 4000, third is okay, that's not overrevving. Click, click, click, Max pulls the flap, and eventually the gearbox switches into third. Damn, why doesn't it work properly? The automatic is such a relief when it does its job. It's by far superior to the sticky cogs of the manual, and it lets you concentrate better on the lines.

There's no match for a purpose-built, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car, thinks Max, accelerating out of the corner with a flirting rear end. The Bridgestones – too quickly eroding by the way – have a huge amount of grip, one can feel every groove of the asphalt through them. But this is just the warm-up. The car is talking to him with such clear words that he's absolutely not afraid to drive at the limit. He takes the next corner in second and can't resist provoking a joyful powerslide with the throttle. The steering, which seems heavy in the city, suddenly makes sense. Not more than two and a half turns from lock to lock, but when you have to carefully adjust in opposite lock, it's perfectly weighted, so you won't chase a snake as the rear end comes back in.

He just can't get bored of the Nissan, there are so many undiscovered territories, where you can wander around. You need 300 PS to get those 1.5 tons to move in such an addictive way, at every flick of your ankle. Yes, he could've bought a Boxster for the same money, and the Porsche is definitely sharper than the Z. But just mention the word “ Porsche” and that other word, “compensation” is never far away, and more important, he never dared to go really fast in a Boxster, every time he tried it. It's faster, but so random, you're always scared you'll lose it.

Before the hairpin, Max switches down to first gear, and starts the corner with a proper drift. At the apex, he shifts to second with one single click, and as he slides on beautifully, without a jerk, he thinks with great satisfaction: look at this, guffawers. Automatics are for girls, right? This one can do things you wouldn't even try with a clutch pedal.

As the Z climbs up the hill at a dramatic speed, Max praises Jack, that he has talked him into that test drive. Damned, this GT suspension is so much superior to the normal Z's. It doesn't hammer on your spine, even on a bad road like this; the wheels don't resist moving vertically, which is quite unusual for a sports car. Nevertheless, it's so predictable in every corner, it lures you into things you shouldn't do.

The asphalt in the forest is cracked, full of potholes, but you don't have to chicken out in a single corner. Ouch, that was a bit too much, but it's enough to lift the throttle a bit, and the Nissan clings back to the line. “Is it the superb, 53/47 weight distribution, the low inertia because of the mass concentration around the centre of the car, or is it just so homey, because I grew up surrounded by front-engine, rear-wheel-drive cars?” meditates Max. A moment later he is focusing on the the road again; there's no room in his brain for the analysis promised for tomorrow morning.

There's a long straight, he switches to high beam. Fourth, fifth, and again he sees twice the permitted speed on the insignificant speedo on the right. The next corner is closing in, yeah, the brakes are warm already, now the beast is feeling better. Fourth, help braking with the engine, third would be nice, but it's not there. Click, click, click, no third, Max instinctively looks down to the lever and

***

“ Hi Jack, what's up?”

“ Hello Max. I didn't want to call you too early, but Anna told me, your life is not in danger any more. How do you feel, Max?”

“ I've been better, Jack. But the doctors say, I can go home next week. Luckily, my notebook's here, so I'm not bored, at least I can read e-mails.”

“ They brought the wreck to us, Max. I was shocked at first, when I saw it, but then they said you survived. What can I say, I wouldn't be happy if a stag came through my windscreen and then I wrapped my new sports car around a tree.”

“ Shut up, Jack, please. I don't want to know what happened to the car. Can you arrange that I don't have to see it? And I don't want to run into it on youtube, either, ok?”

“ Sure as hell. Hey Max, can we talk about business?”

“ My lips are moving, the phone is at my ear. I'm listening.”

-“I don't know what plans you have with the wreck, but...”

“ Would you mind not to mention the word ‘wreck' anymore, Jack?

“ All right, I can work out, that you don't even have to pay the excess and since the car was so crisp, you'll get the price you paid for it.”

“ Hmm, that doesn't sound too bad.”

“ We can't put this white one back together, that's for sure.”

“ But I get the price as new?”

“ Yeah, if we can keep the wreck – err – what's left of the car.”

“ Right. Jack, I've made up my mind in the last few days and now I know what I want. Could you order exactly the same 370Z for me, please? GT Edition, automatic, pearl white...”

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