When we reviewed the newlast year, we applauded the company for doing a sports car model update right. Rather than bloating out the car, Nissan reduced size and weight, at the same time putting in a bigger engine. But the roadster version was still the 350Z, until now. The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster lets soft-top buyers get the same excellent sports car experience as coupe owners.
The 370Z, whether in roadster or coupe form, is a dedicated sports car, its two seats limiting passenger room. The short wheelbase makes for excellent rotation in the corners, aided by a tight suspension that keeps the body flat. With the Sport package, included on the 2010 370Z Roadster we tested, the car gets a feature called SynchroRev Match on its six-speed manual, along with 19-inch Rays alloy wheels and bigger brakes.
The car we reviewed lacked the optional navigation system, but we have seen this optional cabin tech in a different 370Z Roadster. The navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive, and features integrated live traffic and weather. There's a basic Bluetooth phone system, and integrated audio sources include Bluetooth streaming and iPod connectivity. CDs can be ripped to the hard drive, which has 9.3 gigabytes reserved for what Nissan calls the Jukebox.
The available cabin tech is the same gear we've seen in the latest, and in Infiniti models. The interface is easy to use and makes it quick to select letters and numbers from a virtual keyboard. What's most impressive is that Nissan makes the whole tech suite available in a small sports car.
As our car had the Touring trim, it came standard with a Bluetooth phone system and an eight-speaker Bose audio system, which includes two subwoofers. Audio sources were limited to an in-dash six-disc changer which reads MP3 CDs, an auxiliary input, and satellite radio. The Bose system puts out a strong sound but lacks refinement. It sounded especially dull with satellite radio and MP3 tracks, but there was an improvement with standard audio CDs.
The plastics over the dashboard may look slightly cheap, but the suede lining on the doors and other interior surfaces adds a touch of quality to the overall cabin feeling. The gauges are the same as in the coupe, with three pods on the dashboard facing the driver, showing oil temperature, voltage, and the time. The trip computer display sits to the left of the tachometer, with a fuel gauge above it. This fuel gauge is kind of annoying, as its simple line of amber lights gets washed out and unreadable in bright sunlight. Fortunately, the trip computer flashes a warning when range drops under 50 miles.
The 370Z Roadster uses a soft top, defying the rest of the industry's move toward retractable hard tops in an effort to keep the weight down. At up to 3 mph, the top can be raised or lowered with the touch of a button. Well, a long touch on that button, as it needs to be held down throughout the entire process. But it works easily, locking itself into position when put up, or stowing itself away when put down. Unlike the outgoing 350Z Roadster, which operated electrically, this one uses hydraulic power to do its disappearing trick.
But the 370Z Roadster has it all over its predecessor in style. First, the new top is cloth, which always looks good, and the rear window is glass. Then there's the profile; the rear makes a nice rake toward the back, rather than a quick drop-off, somewhat replicating the profile of the 370Z Coupe. Nissan mounted a rear wind deflector behind the seats, which limits turbulence in the cabin. However, at 60 or 70 mph, cabin noise makes conversation difficult. To account for more extreme weather conditions in the cabin, Nissan makes ventilated seats, with heating and cooling, available in the 370Z Roadster, a nicety not offered for the 370Z Coupe.