370Z vs M240i vs F-Type vs Camaro: old-school face-off

Hybrid? Self-driving? Nope. While the rest of the world powers ahead at full steam, we revel in these ravishing, rear-drive, petrol-guzzling coupes.

A face only a mother could love?

Nissan 370Z
Hardly; it’s growing old gracefully. The Z’s a modern performance car icon complete with wide, low stance and half a century of heritage. Facelift in 2017 injected yet more Botox into the near-ancient Z, with this GT model benefiting from 19-inch rims and a couple of luxuries.

BMW M240i
Only hardcore BMW fans will recognise that this 2-series means business. Twin exhausts, chunky wheels and blue M brakes are the key differentiators over a well-specced M Sport 220d. Want more drama? You’ll need a £50k M2 Competition.

Jaguar F-Type
No sir. Callum’s modern classic still stirs the soul, the loins and the web browser for finance offers. Four-pot P300 models have one central exhaust and generally smaller wheels but this is still a car to file under ‘drop-dead gorgeous’.

Chevrolet Camaro
Road presence trumps almost everything you’ll ever meet, even in this sober colour. Ultra-rare status only adds to the stop-and-look behaviour of pedestrians. Don’t buy one if you’re not a fan of excessive attention.

Is the engine the heart and soul?

Nissan 370Z
It’s why you’re here. A free-breathing 3.7-litre V6 designed to be exercised close to its redline, there’s a progressive spread of power and a bassy wail all the way to the top. Least gutsy engine here, though, so you have to really thrash it if you want to get a wriggle on.

BMW M240i
There’s more to the 240i than performance, but the engine is a gem: a straight-six staple boosted by two turbos and shoehorned into the dinky 2-series frame. Loads of torque from hardly any revs and progressive punch as you wind her up. Power drops off near the redline but you’ll enjoy the racket as it does so.

Jaguar F-Type P300 cornering

Jaguar F-Type
It’s a curveball, for sure. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder is the smallest engine here and the least powerful, but it fights back with more torque than the Nissan and feels just as quick. Noise takes some getting used to but the meaty, aggressive bark when you’re trying isn’t without appeal.

Chevrolet Camaro
Vast unblown 6.2-litre V8 is proof that the US still likes to throw displacement at the problem. It’s a corker. Power drops off at the top end so revel in the lazy torque, in any gear, and take full advantage of an exhaust capable of waking the dead.

And in bends? Ballet dancer or bricklayer?

Nissan 370Z
Impressively precise steering, while the well-balanced ride is neither too crashy for UK roads nor too stodgy for a B-road blast. Meaty manual shift, heavy but satisfying clutch action, ultra-keen throttle response.

BMW M240i cornering

BMW M240i
Lightning gearshifts, the steering is almost as sharp as the Nissan’s but nicely weightier in feel, and the limits are high enough for ham-fisted plebs (like me) to not immediately chuck it in a ditch. Feels tiny on the road, which is nice.

Jaguar F-Type
She’s a good ‘un, the Jag excelling on point-to-point sprints through the countryside. Less weight on the nose compared to V6 and V8 makes for a keen turn-in but steering is more GT than sports car; aggressive self-centring can make the rack feel overly-assisted.

Chevrolet Camaro
Feels wider than Verstappen’s Red Bull on UK roads but combination of well-judged steering, unobtrusive torque converter auto and stonking performance makes for fast, easy progress. Agile and grippy, which encourages you to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

Like a Cold War fighter jet inside?

Nissan 370Z
2005 called; it wants its everything back. Funky details like angled gauges do little to offset harsh plastics, incomprehensible infotainment and no DAB radio. But there are at least sockets for your Sega Mega Drive.

BMW M240i
Familiar interior is dating fast now. iDrive a doddle to use, extra-thick steering wheel feels reassuringly purposeful and seats most supportive here by some margin. Handsome dash just needs de-contenting.

Jaguar F-Type P300 interior

Jaguar F-Type
Claustrophobic but well-designed cockpit. InControl infotainment behind the curve but all the important stuff’s right, while the rising dash-top air vents add a welcome sense of theatre.

Chevrolet Camaro
There’s some generic GM bits (like indicator stalks from an Astra) but the Camarao embarrasses rivals with quantity of equipment and its simple but handsome and effective layout. Infotainment works well, with a super-glossy screen. Nav can get lost.

Performance tech to impress superficial friends?

Nissan 370Z
No performance modes to firm/sharpen anything up other than an ‘S mode’ button to activate rev-matching. You don’t buy a Z to spend half an hour setting it up.

Nissan 370Z interior

BMW M240i
Optional adaptive dampers come to life when prodded into Sport mode, which keeps the BMW flat during hard cornering. Sport+ has a half-off traction control mode for giggles without the big accident.

Jaguar F-Type
There are Dynamic and Wet/Snow drive modes for the traction system and gearbox but suspension is passive. Torque vectoring via an open differential helps put the power down, wet or dry.

Chevrolet Camaro
Magnetic ride system works with four drive modes: Tour, Sport, Track and Wet/Ice. (Ice? Are you nuts?) Active exhaust means you can pick and choose your moments. V8 has cylinder deactivation and a heinous thirst regardless.

Chevrolet Camaro cornering

Weekend plaything or weekday workhorse?

Nissan 370Z
Strictly a two-seater but there’s a usable space behind the front pews and the boot is spacious enough for actual things. But the rear tyres roar like a wounded lion whether you’re at 20mph or 120mph, the vertical door handles are awkward, visibility is poor and there’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, so good luck.

BMW M240i
Civilised and refined, and therefore the best of this bunch to live with day to day. You can just about get adults in the back and the boot is a decent size, but you have to pay extra for a ski hatch or rear folding seats. Great visibility all round, but the mighty engine does like a drink.

Jaguar F-Type
Two seats only and cockpit not exactly brimming with plentiful storage options. Unlike the drop-top, the coupe’s boot is at least capable of carrying items bigger than a ham sandwich but bulky suitcases will be a struggle. Since you sit so far back, be sure to option the front parking sensors.

Chevrolet Camaro
Vast blind spots and left-hand drive can make merging interesting but the engine’s bombproof and UK dealers Ian Allan Motors offer a three-year warranty. Rear seats fold flat but boot aperture is weirdly shaped, excluding boxy items – Camaro folk don’t buy white goods.

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