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.
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|
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