No Japanese manufacturer has succeeded in fusing the luxury of a GT coupe with the blissfulness of open-air motoring like Nissan – and the new 370Z Roadster takes the Z formula to an even higher level.
The stunning looking Nissan 370Z roadster now joins the slightly older 370Z Coupe as a favorite in the CarShowroom garage – after the car was launched in Queenstown, New Zealand which was the perfect destination to experience the unbridled joy of topless driving.
What You Get
Designed with the sportscar buyer in mind, the 3.7 liter two-seater roadster is packed full of features. Nissan has only released one model of the roadster in Australia and they have specified the car to a very high standard, with an array of advanced technology including push button start, Bose audio system, as well as customer-friendly features such as the one-touch fully automatic roof operation, Bluetooth connectivity and touch-screen satellite navigation.
With its lightening quick acceleration, the 370Z roadster is kept on the road by 19-inch lightweight aluminum alloy wheels and pulled up by the Nissan Premium Braking System – which includes Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).
Under The Hood
The Roadster is powered by the same charismatic 245 kW V6 as its coupe counterpart. Peak torque is 363 Nm. Gearbox choices are also the same. The six-speed manual incorporates Nissan’s delightful SynchroRev control which matches engine rpm by blipping the throttle during gear changes – and you can always turn the feature off and do the job with your own right foot! Or you can spend an extra $3K for the seven-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles.
Car Showroom preferred the latter for its seamless shifts and instantaneous throttle response and the 370Z automatic actually felt faster under kick-down than the manual. It is a subjective impression but the automatic is a beauty with the extra ratio, ASC (Adaptive Shift Control), M-Mode (M for manual), and those so-nifty chrome paddles. By contrast the gear change in the manual is notchy and with too much spring-loading, making it harder to drive the car with the smoothness it deserves. If you have always loved manual gearboxes, do yourself a favour and sample this auto. It even uses less fuel – 10.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway versus 11.2 for the manual.
This interior could only belong to a Z-Car. The DNA has gone through the generations so that the steering wheel, the trio of auxiliary gauges set into the dash, that sense of being seated right down low and just ahead of the rear wheels (go-kart like), and the view down the long, sensuous bonnet, recall the 1969 original. The fabric roof stows itself electrically in about 20 seconds.
Unlike on the 350Z this operation is fully automatic, the only puzzle being that when you erect the roof the side windows do not go up at the same time. Still, it’s no real bother to use the switches to erect them and you might not want to, except that the buffeting is much less when they are up. There is quite a draught to the back of the neck at times, so a scarf is a useful accessory.
Exterior & Styling
This is one roadster that looks every bit as purposeful as its coupe counterpart. The hero colour Chicane Yellow has been dropped but Bordeaux is a striking alternative.
This dark grape metallic is teamed with a lighter-coloured roof where all other colours get a black roof. The standard 19-inch wheels are perfect for the car, which looks great from any angle and entirely ready for action.
On The Road
Frankly, the rigidity of the roadster’s body was a surprise. Many BMW and Audi convertibles display noticeable scuttle shake, that flexing of the body over bumpy roads or when turning into a driveway. None was discernable on the New Zealand roads, which were very well surfaced. But it is hard to imagine even gnarly tracks catching this ultra-solid feeling vehicle out in this respect.
Because coupe and roadster were designed concurrently, very little extra chassis strengthening was required to compensate for the loss of the metal roof. Aluminium bonnet, doors and bootlid keep the weight down and this substantial roadster never feels heavy. The great news is that it drives almost exactly like the coupe.
Vision is tricky in heavy traffic. The coupe’s fat B-pillars have gone, of course, but the combination of a quite bulky and steeply angled A-pillar and the large exterior mirrors makes it advisable to triple-check before jumping into intersections. The boot is only large enough for a couple of Frequent Flyer bags, so no golf unless it’s mini golf.
At $74,990 for the manual and $77,990 for the automatic, the 370Z Roadster is the best value high performance convertible on the market.
With the luxury of a $100K-plus German sedan, the body rigidity of a Porsche cabriolet and the raw performance of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the 370Z Roadster makes a compelling case for itself and, indeed, the Z-Car tradition. This is first-class brand DNA.
The 370Z Roadster stands alone. Perhaps the Audi TT 3.2 Quattro Roadster comes closest but it costs some $20K extra at $96,900 and is a very different style of car with a power deficit of 100 kW. Want more urge? The TT RS beats the Z by three kW -- and some $55K @ $133,700.
Drives as well as the coupe, looks even better
Thick A-pillar and chunky exterior mirrors complicates forward/sideways vision, scale model boot