“Top down, chrome spinnin’…” or in this case, it would be the 19” lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in high-performance Bridgestone Potenza tires; 245 in the front and large 275s strapped to the back. The song continues that “you see the boss grinnin’…” and I am doing more than grinnin’. I am behind the wheel of the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster – smilin’ because this is one convertible sports car that gets it all just right.
The 2010 370Z Roadster is the positive evolutionary step forward away from the drop-top version of the 350Z. The previous model looked awkward and was uncomfortable to sit in for periods of time lasting longer than 2 minutes. However, it did get the sports car part correct. This new iteration has great exterior style, doesn’t make my spine cry for mercy, and takes the sporty part of the equation to another level.
Growing in size and power output, the engine in the 370Z Roadster is now 3.7L (up from the previous 306 hp 3.5L V6) producing 332 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Nissan sent this Z to the set of the Biggest Loser and it came back 150 lbs lighter. For those scoring at home, this 2010 370Z Roadster has more power and less weight than the old model. It is faster and all-around more fun to drive. The popular new Synchro-Rev transmission system is employed here and makes me feel like Ayrton Senna even if I am still just Johnny Fat Feet (I know the clip is in Japanese but watch what this man could do with a car). When I downshift, the engine and transmission work together allowing me to extract every last bit of driving excitement from this vehicle.
Rather than harping on old vs. new, I think you should see how this ragtop stacks up against the competition. How would you feel if I told you this is a Nissan that was designed to run with Porsches? You read that correctly – this sub $40K convertible sports car keeps pace with the Porsche Boxster which starts at $46,600. The base price of the 370Z Roadster is $36,970. In all fairness, the Z can be optioned out to the tune of $48K+ … however the Porsche can be optioned into the stratosphere. I tested it out myself and built up a base Boxster to the tune of $72,900 – good thing I didn’t start with the $56K+ Boxster S!
The interior of the Roadster is a nice place to be on short drives and on long drives, which is a huge change from the previous model. The Bose sound system works well, but the real aural pleasure is derived when the top is down and the VQ engine is howling through the exhaust. The VQ exhaust note has a love-it-or-hate-it quality, but I think it sounds great in the upper range RPM range. The available navigation system mimics the one found in the more expensive Infiniti side of the family.
There are only two areas of the interior with which I found immediate faults; the gas gauge and the floor near the gas pedal. The gas gauge has been covered ad-nauseam by most automotive outlets. It is an interesting concept that doesn’t work well in reality. A row of dots in a line is not enough information for me to process how full or, for the pessimistic bunch, how empty my fuel tank is. Thankfully I can have my remaining mileage displayed on the small screen located below the gauge. The other issue I mentioned is the floor near the gas pedal. There is a section of the pedal that juts out and forces me to place my foot on the pedal at an angle. If I don’t then my heel rests uncomfortably on this protuberance. It is not a big issue, but more of a minor annoyance.
The exterior style of this 370Z is leaps and bounds over the previous generation convertible. The 350Z Roadster comes off a design after-thought whereas this
new version was designed from the outset with a drop-top in mind. It looks handsome with the top up and gorgeous with the top down. The flowing shoulder line appears to become even more embellished when the top is neatly stowed.
Quite often a convertible suffers from a serious case of the shakes. Hit a bump in the road and you can feel the front and rear of the car reacting apart from each other. Nissan has done an excellent job of stiffening the already quite stiff 370Z to eliminate as much of this as possible and the result is readily apparent. The car feels solid and reacts well to changing road environments. The ride is the perfect mix of sporty stiff and slow-jaunt relaxed, it is certainly not the high-performance NISMO version but it is no slouch.
The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster is a convertible sports car that gets both parts of the equation correct. The interior volume, both noise and space, are good with the top up or down. The car feels tight and constantly yearns for me to take it on another run through the local canyon roads. The base price for all this fun is $36,970 with the 370Z Roadster pictured here topping out a hair over the $40,000 mark. Nissan has created a convertible sports car that wears the iconic Z badge well. The only way they could top it would be to listen to my endless letters asking for the return of T-Tops…