Johannesburg - The key to plastic surgery is to not overdo it. Keep the nips and tucks to a minimum. Just ask Jane Fonda, who’s just a couple months away from her 80th but doesn’t look a day older than, umm 60.

It also helps when the face you’re nipping is a pretty one to start with, and like Jane, Nissan’s 370Z was quite the looker when it was young, and taut, and fresh.

The 370, which is ironically called the Fairlady in some markets, is about to turn nine (that’s about Fonda’s age in car years) and though it doesn’t have long for this world it’s just gone under the knife one last time.

The new 2018 model year 370Z gets some very minor cosmetic upgrades to help the already attractive car age gracefully - namely a new set of 19-inch alloys from famed aftermarket wheel supplier Rays, a black-painted rear diffuser, chrome door handles and some smoked head- and tail-light lenses straight off the special edition Nismo model which wasn’t sold locally.

Power comes from an unchanged naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6 with the same 245kW and 363Nm as previously, and gearbox choices still include a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

The only mechanical difference is a new clutch pack in the manual, supplied by Exedy, a Japanese brand know for its high-performance tuning parts.

This clutch, according to Nissan, is designed to be lighter under your left foot so all the ins and outs needed for track (or traffic) driving is a little less taxing.

I can’t vouch for its newfound lightness because I wasn’t able to comparatively test it back to back with the outgoing model, but its action was well weighted for a few hot laps around Redstar Raceway where the car was introduced to media last week.

The term old-school might be less offensive and more accurate than just plain-old when referring to this sports car. It feels its age, that’s undeniable.

But a big capacity, naturally aspirated engine, driving the rear wheels through a manual transmission is a nostalgic recipe that’s all but dead in today’s showrooms.

On track the 370Z screamed its way to redline with a note uninhibited by turbochargers, and the footwork required to bang up and down through ratios with a gear lever, rather than steering paddles, is an addictive art that’s near forgotten in modern machinery.

There’s also a clever rev-matching throttle function to help slip through the H-pattern on downshifts, but it can be switched off by drivers who prefer the heel-toe technique.

The auto transmission didn’t fare as well in hot laps, where it struggled to sniff out the correct gear for given situations and refused to accept paddle inputs under pressure, but in fairness a track probably wasn’t the best place to demonstrate the virtues of an old-fashioned torque converter gearbox. This one’s better suited to lazy cruising.

Performance claims at sea level are quoted at 5.3 and 5.6 seconds for the manual and auto respectively in 0-100km/h tests, and both have governed top speeds of 250km/h.

Pricing is unchanged from the previous 370Z with the manual selling for R661 900 and the auto R680 900.

Three-year/90 000km service plans and six-year/150 000km warranties are included.

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