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June 29, 2010 > Auto Review: 370Z Roadster

Auto Review: 370Z Roadster

By Dick Ryan

Forty years ago the 240Z arrived in the USA from Japan as a Datsun model. It caused quite a stir because it looked like a very exotic sports car and it rivaled the performance of a Porsche, all at the very competitive price of $3,626 (less than half of a Porsche). In full disclosure to my readers, one of them found its way into the Ryan driveway. Over the years the Z has changed significantly, but its cost effectiveness has never been compromised. When the 350Z first came out, the Ryan driveway once again welcomed one of them home.

So when a 2010, 370Z Roadster (Touring Model) became available as a test car, I jumped at the chance to drive it for a week. The 370Z made its debut as a coupe in 2009; the Roadster is new this year. It has an automatic latching cloth top with a glass rear window that lowers in 20 seconds. A double-insulated top keeps the interior warmer or cooler (depending on season) and reduces noise levels when up.

Our test 370Z was Brilliant Silver with Bordeaux (maroon color) top and interior. At first we didn't like the color combination but after a day it really looked good. We think the Nissan stylists got the 370Z Roadster design right; it looks much better than the 350Z Roadster. One issue we did have was when you opened the doors they would catch on the top and yank the door handle out of your hand. This is because the window path went up into the sides of the top too far. This could be rectified by a simple window adjustment.

The heart of the Z lies under the aluminum hood. The 3.7-liter, V-6 will shoot 333 HP and 270 pound feet of torque to the rear wheels for tire smoking burnouts. Due to many improvements, the 3.7-liter unit produces an entirely fun driving experience.

Nissan gives you two transmission options. Our car had the 7-speed automatic which allows you to use Drive like any normal car, the shift lever or paddles to shift as you see fit. It has Nissan's Downshift Rev Matching technology that does throttle blips on the down-shifts for you.

If you choose the 6-speed manual transmission, you can get SynchoRev Matching (with the Sport model). This automatically controls and adjusts the engine speed when down shifting. This is an amazing feature; you need to drive one to fully realize it's potential. It can also be switched off if you want to heel and toe on your own.

The 370Z Roadster did have a few negative issues. One was outward visibility-there almost isn't any in some directions. The large outside, side mirrors blocked your corner vision and hid things like signs and median strips when making left hand turns. Vision out the back is illusionary and backing out of a parking space (with the top up) is a leap of faith that nothing is moving behind you. Another problem is that the paddle shifters do not move with the steering wheel so it is very difficult to shift when turning a sharp corner.

My last criticism only applies if you drive your street car on the track (like I and many others do). After about 15 minutes of hard track driving, the engine oil heats up to the point that the computer takes over and switches the engine to a "run safe" mode. This means that the computer will only let the 370Z run at a slow speed - not what you want on the race track. The solution is to add an oil cooler to the car. I think Nissan engineers should have done this to all the cars and, on a mass basis the cost would probably be less than $100.

If you are looking for a great, fast, good handling, 2-seat, sports car at a very reasonable cost, head for your local Nissan dealer and test drive a 370Z Roadster or Coupe. You will be glad you did.

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