2005 Nissan 350Z Roadster review: 2005 Nissan 350Z Roadster

The shifter feels very precise when you're putting the car through its gears.

On the downside, the modifications to the 350Z Roadster's chassis add 250 pounds to the weight of the coupe. Thanks to the excellence of the VQ35DE engine, the changes don't seriously affect acceleration. With 287hp at 6,200rpm and 274 pound-feet of torque at 4,800rpm, the aluminum-alloy 32-valve twin-cam V-6 is more than strong enough. It uses continuously variable valve timing to widen the power band and decrease emissions. It has a LEV-2 emissions rating. Throttle control is electronic. A short and lightweight carbon-fiber driveshaft transmits power to the limited-slip differential.

The engine puts out linear power with no flat spots or sudden surprises, and it makes a unique six-cylinder howl when pressed hard. The fine six-speed manual gearbox aids both performance and enjoyment with its well-chosen ratios and good linkage. At around 5.8 seconds, the roadster's 0-to-60mph time is a couple tenths of a second slower than the coupe's. That might matter to a racer, but balanced against the sun-in-the-face, wind-in-the-hair convertible experience, it's a very minor price to pay.

The 350Z has an EPA mileage rating of 20mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway. According to the trip computer, we averaged 19.6mpg, mostly in city and back-road pleasure driving.

The Nissan 350Z Roadster Touring model has dual-stage front air bags with seat-belt sensors and side air bags. The seat belts have pretensioners and load limiters. The chassis features Nissan's Zone Body construction, with front and rear crush zones and side reinforcement. The 350Z also integrates rollover bars to prevent head injuries if the car is flipped. Appropriately for a sports car, the Nissan gives you the option of turning off the traction-control system.

The brakes are appropriate for the car's level of performance, with large four-wheel vented discs. A four-channel, four-sensor antilock system and brake assist come standard. The tires are staggered in size, with larger P235/50 WR17s at the rear and P225/50 WR17s in front. A low-tire-pressure warning system lets the driver know if the tires are inflated properly.

The Nissan warranty offers three years or 36,000 miles of coverage plus limited power train coverage for five years or 60,000 miles.

What you'll pay

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