Unlike the 350Z the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster was designed from the beginning as a convertible. That means slicker looks and less compromise in the pursuit of drop-top fun, but is it still the real sports car the 350Z was?
First impressions aren't good, at least if you're looking for a pared-to-the-bone performance car like the 2009 Nissan 370Z Sport we tested back in July. The interior in this car looks like it came from Infiniti, which the Navitainment system and 7-speed automatic gearbox with paddles actually did. Then there's the seats, they're heated and cooled in addition to power adjustable and part covered in leather, part in a swishy net material.
Weight is also up by 135 Lbs over the coupe and the soft top is now operated by a transmission tunnel-mounted button rather than folding manually.
So two pedals, more weight, luxury interior, power top. This is a poseur's car then, right? Wrong. Despite offering the ability to cool your hot ass while letting your hair blow in the wind, the 370Z Roadster is still a driver's car. Click through the gallery below to find out why.
Exterior Design: ☆☆☆
We gave the coupe a four star rating and, while this new roadster loses the 350Z's incredibly awkward soft top proportions (remember that long deck lid?) losing the top is less than flattering to the 370Z's over the top detailing. Where the cantilevered roof on the coupe nicely offsets the wildly flared rear arches, top off these look far too big for the rest of the cars proportions. The same can be said for the door handles and taillights. They work on the coupe, but not without the roof. It's still a decent looking car, just in an awkward kind of way.
Unfortunately, I managed to park the Z under a tree full of loose-boweled birds shortly before I took these pictures. Since no one wants to see a red convertible top completely covered in green shit, we can't bring you top up photos.
Interior Design: ☆☆☆☆
"Touring" trim really dresses things up inside, not only are the materials now of a quality befitting a $45,840 car, but the spot-on relationship between the position of the seat, pedals and wheel is carried over from the coupe. Forward vision remains unparalled for a front engine car, even if what little rearward and rear 3/4 vision that exists in the coupe has now completely dissappeared, even with the top down. Infiniti details like the partially leather-wrapped shift paddles and large screen for the navigation and entertainment systems really move the interior up a notch.
We gave the Coupe a five-star rating, saying "4.7 seconds to 60 MPH is damn good for a $30k sports car." Unfortunately, 5.1 seconds to 60 MPH is slightly less impressive for a $40k roadster. It's not that the gearbox is bad, it's actually one of our favorite automatics, but it does carry with it a small performance deficit. Where the manual tranny car will spin the wheels under hard acceleration in third, the automatic will only do that in second gear. Despite being a torque converter auto, manual shifts occur rapidly the instant you select them, no annoying delay between selection and actuation as in the $200,000 Mercedes SLS AMG. Most automatics with six or more speeds also tend to stick themselves in the highest possible gear the second you lift off the throttle in the vain pursuit of fuel economy. The means that when you do ask for power again, it takes two to three shifts before actual acceleration occurs. The 370Z shares its auto with the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible and neither car wants to upshift when you don't want it to. Thank you Nissan for making your automatic do what it's supposed to.
The rest of the nice stuff we said about the Z coupe's performance still applies to the Roadster. Peak torque (270 Lb-Ft) arrives at 5,200 RPM and peak power (332 HP) at 7,000. That might not sound hugely flexible, but there's now plenty of power and torque throughout the rev range, even low down.
Ride and Handling: ☆☆☆☆
We gave the coupe five stars for handling and three stars for ride and, as far as we can tell, the Roadster performs identically to its hard topped brother. That means huge amounts of grip (over 1g on the skid pad is possible) and a very neutral chassis with neither under or oversteer present in huge amounts. You'll pay the price for the excellent responsiveness when it comes to driving over bumps. While there's no detectable scuttle shake or similar - typically the bane of soft tops - the springs and dampers are very firm. Poseurs may find their Bluetooth earpieces dislodged from their ears as a result. Buyer beware.
Toys And Tech: ☆☆☆
The Infiniti navigation system is excellent and simple to use thanks to the intuitive controls. Mercedes and BMW would do well to emulate it with the next generations of iDrive and COMMAND. But since this is the auto-equipped version it loses our favorite Z toy, the Syncro Rev Match throttle blipping thingy. Still, heated and cooled seats and a power top aren't to be sniffed at.
There's really no other convertible at this price level that drives like a real sports car, so taking that into consideration, we're giving the Roadster one more star than the Coupe, which faces stiffer competition in its class.
An honest-to-god convertible sports car that's only compromise over the coupe is in the price, about $6,000 more than an equivalent 370Z coupe. Like the hard top, the 370Z Roadster raises the bar for performance convertibles both in terms of outright speed and, most importantly in driver involvement. We'd buy the coupe, but won't look down on drivers that will pay more to have messy hair.
Suitability Parameters: Who Should Buy This?
● Speed Merchants
● Fashion Victims
● Very Successful Hairdressers With A Need For Speed
Suitability Parameters: Who Shouldn't Buy This?
● Penny Pinchers
● Golfing Grandparents
● People Who Can Live Without Their Hair Blowing In The Wind
● Ford Mustang GT Convertible: Cheaper, slower and less fun, but it has four seats
● Audi TTS Roadster: Just as fast, less involving, poseurs only
● BMW Z4: wayyyyy more expensive, equally good to drive, folding hard top, looks like a clown shoe
● Infiniti G37 Convertible: same platform and drivetrain, more refinement and luxury, tiny back seats, more money
Model Year: 2010
Model: 370Z Roadster
Trim: Touring with Sport Package
Price, Base/As-Tested: $36,970/$45,840
Engine: 3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
Horsepower & Torque: 332 HP @ 7,000 RPM, 270 Lb-Ft @ 5,200 RPM
Transmission: 7-speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 3495 Lbs
0-to-60: 5.1 secs
Top Speed: 155 MPH (limited)
Crash Testing, Front/Rear/Side: N/A
Fuel Economy, EPA: 18/25 MPG