Strengths and weaknesses:
- Noisy with horrible visibility with top up
- seat adjuster dials.
The Nissan 370Z roadster’s top is stowed,
The car sits there lovely in the sunlight. Poised. Beckoning. Ready for action.
“Put a hat on, honey, we’re going to go get some sun …and wind.”
I’ve driven all the iterations of Z Roadster. The first was the 300ZX (1993 to 1996), next came 350Z born in 2005 and now replaced by the 2010 370Z. Each has been quicker and more appealing than its predecessor.
We slide into an interior that is cozy without being cramped. The heated and cooled sports seats are well bolstered, squeezing in the right places to ensure driver and passenger don’t slip around in hard cornering.
Getting settled is relatively easy, but I hate the dial-a-position seat cushion adjustments. On the other hand, I like the way the entire instrument pod moves with the tilt steering. You never lose sight of the gauges. Controls fall readily to hand.
I step on the brake and push the start button. The 3.7-litre V6 under the hood springs to life with a satisfying growl. I like this. I have 332 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque at my disposal and I intend to use them.
I move the selector lever for the seven-speed automatic transmission into D and we’re off. Quickly. Those horses like to run. I move the lever to manual mode and try out the paddle shifters. A few minutes of that and I decide that I might as well let the electronics do the work.
It’s not until we get up to highway velocity that the need for a hat becomes evident. Until then, the clear plastic wind breaker between the seatbacks shuts out wind wash.
At highway speeds, the wind is getting inside; it’s not a gale, mind you, but it’s enough to blow my wife’s hair around were she hatless.
Even at highway speed it’s possible to carry on a conversation or listen to the audio system. Raise the windows and the interior becomes quieter and less turbulent.
While the sport shift automatic works beautifully, the paddle shifters are steering column-mounted and, since the right paddle shifts up and the left one down, you can get crossed up if you keep your hands at “9 and 3” in tight turns.
If you’re like me, there are going to be as many tight turns as you can find. The Z has the ABCs of handling down to a science. No body lean and the rear end stays where it’s supposed to be. In the background, Vehicle Dynamic Control is always ready to steady if you get too far out of shape, but it takes a lot of provocation.
Straight-ahead stability is terrific and there’s a new factor at work in this roadster: rigidity. Even when the surface turns to washboard there’s not a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.
Should the weather turn sour and it becomes necessary to raise the soft top, you can do it quickly, albeit with a lot of whining and banging from the top mechanism.
In about 20 seconds, you turn a beautiful, sleek swan of a roadster into an ugly duckling. You also get rid of nearly all your rearward visibility and create a couple of huge blind spots on your rear quarters. Learn to use those side mirrors or you could find yourself in some difficulty.
Shutting in the cockpit also, surprisingly, makes it much noisier inside. With the top up, wind noise becomes an issue and road noise is much more evident.
But on the bright side, the test car from Nissan Canada came with sport and navigation packages which give the driver every advantage available.
And the trunk will actually carry stuff…top up or top down.