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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 NISSAN 370Z ROADSTER REVIEW


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SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyers Guide


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 370Z ROADSTER VEHICLE
If you’re looking for a sleek 2-seater roadster that doesn’t scream mid-life crisis, I suggest taking a spin in the reworked 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster. First-ever heated and cooled ventilated net seats, “next-generation” Nissan entertainment and navigation systems plus refined handling technology for both the 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions position this convertible above what the now-replaced 350Z convertible ever reached.

I drove a 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster powered by the Infiniti G37’s engine, a 332-horsepower 3.7-liter 24-valve DOCH V6 that picked up an extra 26 horsepower from the previous 350Z’s engine. My 370Z Touring trim added beyond the basics such as Bluetooth, aluminum-trimmed pedals and leather-appointed ventilated net seats. Priced according to transmissions, a manual 370Z Touring runs $40,520 and an automatic is $41,820.

This new perforated seating material found only on the Touring trim allows heat to transfer evenly to seatbacks and bottom cushions when the evening chill factor set in – very important for people who love to drive convertibles. It’s also important to note the construction of the 370Z buffers wind tunnels when the top is down and the windows are up.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The roadster offers bolstered seating for two. All base Z Roadsters feature a push-button start, woven cloth seats and steering-wheel mounted controls. The convertible top has a standard black fabric inner liner to increase quality appearance when closed and help reduce noise intrusion into the cabin. The Z’s traditional 3-pod speedometer cluster is embedded into the steering column and moves up or down with wheel configuration. Although the base is nice, the Touring has an upgraded 8-speaker Bose audio system with a 6-disc CD changer, XM Radio and speed-sensitive volume control. Additional options include a Sport Package with 19-inch RAYS forged wheels and Nissan Sport Brakes; and a Nissan Navigation Package with a 7-inch display monitor with a 9.3GB hard-drive system for streaming audio via Bluetooth connectivity and real-time traffic reports.

Reliability & Safety Factor: In a comparison of seven other 2-passenger or smaller convertibles, Consumer Reports found the 2010 370Z Roadster Touring ranked third in overall road-test scores, just below the Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring but above the Mercedes-Benz SLK350. The Z Roadster is equipped with the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) featuring dual-stage inflation and seat belt sensors. There are also driver and front passenger side-impact and door-mounted curtain airbags. Active head restraints are included in every model. The frame features Zone Body Construction with crumple zones. The roadster gets “zero lift aerodynamics” instead of rollover protection in the form of a built-in roll bar or an activating single-piece roll bar set to move up in case of a flip. Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the 2010 model.

Cost Issues: A base 370Z Roadster begins at $36,270. The Touring trim takes it up to $40,520. When fully loaded with Nissan packages, like the navigation and Sport package, the price tag can reach $47,170.

Activity & Performance Ability: The 307Z Roadster is the perfect companion for winding roads and blue skies. Shedding nearly 100 pounds by using lighter materials, the 370Z Roadster still delivers a structure chassis that feels planted and protected – especially when cornering. The Z’s brakes are responsive and the steering is firm, but the transmission steals the road show. Attempt to outsmart the automatic system with the paddles or the main shifter – either way, the 7-speed refrains from any shift-shock damage one might throw as the gears run seamlessly into one another. I’ve tested both the 7-speed automatic with paddle-shifting mode and the 6-speed manual. Either transmission, the Z offers a thrilling ride.

The Green Concern: The EPA gas estimates are 18-mpg city/25-mpg highway driving for both transmissions for an average fuel economy rating of 21.5-mpg. This is an increase of 2-mpg highway (automatic) and 1-mpg highway (manual) driving over the 350Z, so the roadster isn’t exactly getting greener.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
It takes just 20 seconds for the Nissan 370Z’s automatic one-touch soft top to peel away – and about just as long to realize this little roadster offers a classy, thrilling ride at a reasonable sports car price.

©2010 Katrina Ramser