Nissan 370Z SyncroRev Match Stick Shift Tech Turns Average Joe Into Super Driver

Heel and toeing is one of the hardest-to-master and most rewarding driving techniques, and now the Nissan 370Z's manual transmission will do it for you.

Heel and toeing is the confusingly named term for using your right foot to hit both the brake and gas pedals while downshifting. The idea is to match the engine revs to what they'll be in the lower gear before you release the clutch in that gear, all while braking to slow for a turn. If you get it right, the shift into the lower gear (or gears, it's most rewarding doing this as you shift down through two or more gears) is incredibly smooth and allows you to brake later and harder as you turn into the corner. This means more speed, less chance of spinning and an easier time for your engine and transmission. Before racecars went all paddle shifty, you had to heel and toe or you'd blow up the engine.

Sound complicated? That's because it is and that's where the new-for-2009 Nissan 370Z comes in.

When you downshift, it uses the ABS sensors to read the speed of the tires, compares that data to the speed of the engine and the gear being selected, and then actuates the electronic throttle to bring the revs up to the appropriate level. It does all that faster than a human driver could, guaranteeing perfectly rev-matched downshifts every time. This means that, as long as you know how to drive a stick, you'll look like and sound a heroic racecar driver every time you get behind the wheel.

By now, if you're in the majority of casually enthusiastic drivers, you're thinking this sounds pretty good. It'll help you go faster, be safer while doing so and, most importantly, look good. The problem is that if you're a hardcore driver, you've spent years developing the ability to heel and toe and don't want to share it with the everyman, nor have it done for you. The system does have an off-switch, allowing keen drivers the ability to challenge themselves, but it does represent a further erosion of voluntary control and thus the skills necessary to go fast being removed from the driving experience.

[Source: Nissan]