When we reviewed the new Nissan 370Z Coupe last 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 Sport package upgrades the wheels and 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 Nissan Maxima, 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.
The interface for the navigation system is very easy to use.
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.
The wind deflector is glass, and etched with a stylized Z.
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.
The 370Z Roadster gets a direct-injection 3.7-liter V-6 under the hood, similar to that found in the bigger Infiniti G37. Putting out 332 horsepower, that engine makes the smallish 370Z Roadster really fly, getting to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to other publications. Torque is 270 pound-feet, delivered to the rear wheels through a carbon fiber composite driveshaft, a nice component at the price of this car.
Fuel economy, according to EPA tests, is 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. With a mix of city, freeway, and mountain driving, we achieved 20.5 mpg, not a spectacular number, but not surprising for the size of this engine.
The six-speed manual uses a technology called SynchroRev Match, which blips the engine speed during shifts.
A seven-speed automatic is available, but we tested the six-speed manual, with its quick, short-throw shifter. Nissan throws a bit of unique tech into the mix here, SynchroRev Match, a feature that blips the throttle automatically between shifts, making sure the engine speed matches the new gear. In moderate driving, it effectively eliminates lurching, and in sport and track driving, it keeps the wheel speed even so the car maintains composure during crucial cornering. For those that don't want the help, SynchroRev Match is easily turned off at the push of a button.
Although the engine makes the 370Z Roadster fast in a straight line, it really excels in the corners. It feels as rigid as its coupe sibling, the suspension is screwed down tight, and the steering is precise. Through turn after turn, the 370Z Roadster showed tremendous grip and such ease of control that it absolutely encourages enthusiastic driving. When we pushed it beyond its grip, traction control let the back come out, but with the short wheel-base, the car felt as if it was pivoting on a single point, no long nose or tail hanging out to muscle around.
Third gear has a fairly wide power band, letting us push it through tight turns, and speed up on the ensuing straightaway without shifting. But as the rpms hit around 6,000, the engine makes a nasty racket, encouraging a shift up to fourth. Approaching a hairpin required a shift down to second, and the SynchroRev Match made the whole process smooth and eliminating torque drop as we put power to the wheels.
The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster stands out as a particularly good sports car, the drop top adding to the price but making for some nice open-air cruising. Impressively, it compares well with its hard-top sibling, providing similar performance. The power train and suspension tech isn't anything innovative, but Nissan does an excellent job refining it. A few features, such as the SynchroRev Match, push it up on the tech scale.
The available cabin tech in the 370Z Roadster is an impressive suite, providing many useful functions, such as traffic avoidance and iPod integration. For design, the 370Z Roadster really impresses. When equipped with the navigation system, the cabin tech interface is one of the best available, with a smartly built controller making inputs intuitive and easy. The convertible top doesn't look like a hack job on the original 370Z Coupe, and there's no mistaking the look. We're also impressed that the top doesn't compromise trunk space.
|Model||2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster|
|Trim||Touring with Sport Package|
|Powertrain||Direct injection 3.7-liter V-6|
|EPA fuel economy||18 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20.5 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based system with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible six CD changer|
|MP3 player support||Optional iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Satellite radio, auxiliary input, optional USB port|
|Audio system||Bose eight speaker system|
|Driver aids||Optional rear view camera|
|Price as tested||$44,040|