Some may argue the point, but there are plenty of us who believe that growing up is highly overrated. In this culture, the next generation is usually expected to carry on like its predecessors: graduate high school, go to college (and likely grad school), get a respectable job, find a compatible mate, buy a house in the suburbs, have two or three kids, adopt a dog, and mow your grass on Saturdays. As people mostly in our 30s, that’s the path we’ve been shown, but after driving the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster, we feel just fine about putting that all on hold.
Skipping the traditional route for a drop-top Z, at least in part, actually makes a lot of sense. The housing market is sicker than a parent of a two-year old in daycare, those student loans can ride the deferment train for a few more years, and cutting grass is only marginally more entertaining than watching grass grow. If you’re lucky, the compatible mate might be a person, or maybe you’ll just use the passenger seat for your dog. And the kids? Well, it’s either them or the Z. With thousands of miles of bonding time between us and Nissan’s Roadster, we’ve come to the conclusion that Jr. can sit it out for a few more years. Daddy’s got some driving to do.
Photos courtesy of Nissan.
#10. Pricing ranges from about $37,000 to $48,000 fully equipped.
No one ever said summertime fun would be cheap, but at $37,320, the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster could be considered a bit of a bargain in the performance drop-top segment. That’s the asking price of a base model with a clutch pedal. Add in an optional automatic gearbox and you’re up to $38,620. Standard features include cloth upholstery, a basic audio system with a CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, and the usual assortment of power accessories. Covering the safety front are six airbags, traction control, and Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system.
If you want a few extra creature comforts, and have the dough to pay for them, consider the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster Touring model. Available with the manual and automatic transmissions – priced from $40,870 and $42,170, respectively – this relatively luxurious trim is equipped with heated and ventilated power seats, leather upholstery, a Bose sound system with dual subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity (very handy in states with strict cell phone laws), aluminum pedals, and more.
Options are limited and available only with Touring models. They include a hard-drive navigation system with a USB port and real-time traffic information, and a Sport Package that adds a limited-slip differential, upgrades the wheels and brakes, and more.
#9. The 370Z Roadster boot scoots its boogy with a 332-horse V6.
As its name suggests, the rear-drive 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster draws its energy from a 3.7-liter V6. It’s a somewhat unrefined mill that cranks out 332 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, all working to motivate a curb weight of roughly 3,500 pounds. Transmission choices include an optional seven-speed automatic or standard six-speed manual. The latter is the regular gearbox on base models, but order it with the Touring version and you get Nissan’s SynchroRev Match technology, designed to make high-speed downshifts smoother. Using premium fuel, the EPA suggests that 370 Roadster drivers will see 18 mpg around town and 25 mpg on the highway, regardless of transmission choice.
Deeper under the Z’s skin are vented rotors, upsized by more than an inch when the Sport Package is selected, stabilizer bars, and a suspension setup comprised of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup out back. Standard alloys measure 18 inches, though 19s can be found on the options list.
#8. SynchroRev Match is, for the lack of a better description, wicked cool.
Though it boasts 332 ponies, the 2010 Z Roadster’s V6 feels as unrefined as the 3.5-liter six-banger that it replaces. If you’re looking for a sports convertible with a smooth, velvety powertrain, try one of the Z’s pricier German competitors. That said, this drop top is eager to hustle as you wring out all 3.7 liters and watch the tach needle spin. Initial take-off is impressive, but the Z really starts to light up once the revs have climbed a bit. Passing power is a non-issue, though we did find ourselves downshifting quite often to get by other cars quicker than necessary and, honestly, to crank up the throaty exhaust.
Changing gears has taken a new turn with 370Z Touring models. Instead of a regular six-speed gearbox, Nissan has added what it calls a SynchroRev Match feature that simulates heel-toe shifting. For those of you who’ve attempted and failed to master this skill on your own, it’s like something sent from the divine car gods. Others will simply feel a smooth transition while downshifting, as the technology blips the throttle to sync rpm with the lower gear. Drivers can turn the system off. We didn’t.
#7. A curvy road with tight corners? Bring it on.
Our extended test of the Z Roadster included more twists and turns than we care to count, though we remember tackling most of them with surprising speed and full confidence. Despite the tires on our tester showing a bit of wear, the front end gripped without hesitation no matter how hard we buried it into a corner, and a stab of the throttle did exactly what we expected – hooked up the outside rear tire and dug in for traction. The Z is very easy to drive hard and fast on some of our favorite roads, and enthusiasts will appreciate the latitude granted by the stability control system. No electronic police reigning things in much too soon here. The driver does have the option of turning those safety systems off, but with all the fun we were having, there was never a need to do so.
With that kind of balance and flat cornering, you may not be surprised to learn that the Z Roadster’s ride is stiff, though not to the point of rattling your fillings. Steering is tight and responsive at all speeds, offering helpful communication between the road surface and the driver’s hands, and braking is progressive and absent of fade or shudder.
#6. It’s easy to control the 370Z Roadster’s electronic soft top.
Check out the convertible market, and you’ll find a generous variety of approaches to dropping the top and letting the sunshine in. Solutions range from the convoluted multi-step contraption on the late Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky, to the Miata’s one-handed solution and the recent debuts of retractable hard tops.
Operation of the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster’s soft top is, in a word, easy. Within roughly 20 seconds, drivers can drop or raise the roof by simply pushing a button on the center console. There are no latches to mess with.
Once lowered, the roof packs into a compartment in the forward section of the trunk, and is capped off by a body-color panel that gives the Roadster a sleek, smooth top-down appearance.
#5. In the 370Z Roadster, passengers don’t have to yell to be heard.
To combat high levels of interior noise, an unfortunate but common affliction suffered by convertibles, Nissan engineers added an inner liner to the fabric soft top. During our test drive that spanned thousands of miles, our editor and his road trip buddy soon appreciated the Z’s relatively quiet cabin, which prevented either from having to raise a voice or yell to be heard, even at highway speeds on rough pavement. In this regard, the 370Z Roadster may not be best-in-class, but we didn’t have any complaints.
Similarly, the 2010 Z has also been designed with comfortable top-down motoring in mind. A wind blocker, essentially a clear panel with an etched “Z” placed between the two head restraints, prevents turbulent air from recirculating into the cabin. With that, and the side windows raised, we enjoyed a relatively calm environment, though the vocal cords got a bit of a workout.
#4. Unless you’re looking straight up, outward visibility isn’t great.
For people unfamiliar with convertibles, logic might suggest that visibility would be a non-issue. With only a windshield rising from the body, what could possibly come between the driver’s eyes and the outside world? Actually, a number of things.
Sitting in the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster with the soft top lowered, the over-the-shoulder view – what you use when merging into a right lane – is hampered by a high and wide rear quarter section. You’ll definitely want to have your mirrors properly adjusted before hitting the streets. The direct rear view is sufficient, but also limited by the narrow space between the substantial head restraints.
With the top raised, outward visibility is, like many convertibles, nothing to brag about. Wide swaths of fabric constitute the rear pillars, and the glass rear window is on the small side. The forward view is also a bit of an issue, as drivers sit low in the cockpit (even with the seat raised), and seeing out over the bulging hood takes some getting used to.
#3. The 370Z Roadster offers more storage space than meets the eye.
Cargo vans are made for carrying stuff. large suvs can surely haul their share of goods. pickup trucks are like storage lockers on wheels. Sporty, two-passenger convertibles, on the other hand, are quite possibly at the root of the phrase “Pack light.”
Therefore, it came as a bit of a shock to find so much usable space in our 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster test car. With a 4.2 cubic-foot trunk, you won’t be tossing in a full-size suitcase, but creative arrangement allows for a couple of well-stuffed carry-ons and a few other squishable items. Inside, the Z makes use of the tight confines with a decent glovebox, three cupholders, a center armrest that will swallow a couple of thin wallets, door pockets, and a particularly useful parcel shelf behind the seats. Granted, we’d steer clear of calling the 370Z Roadster spacious, but its storage capacity will surprise people.
#2. Once you’re in, the Z Roadster’s cabin proves quite comfortable.
After a couple thousand miles behind the wheel, all traveled within a matter of days, we can attest to the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster’s comfort. The sport bucket seats are firm, but very supportive, and the sizeable bolsters work as intended when high speeds meet tight corners. Given the cabin’s minimal space, driver and passenger will be limited in how far they can recline and slide the seats rearward, though our five-foot-eleven-inch tall co-pilot had room to spare. Heated and ventilated seats also made the ride in the Z Roadster Touring model enjoyable despite the weather, though the system did a poor job of regulating heat delivery. As a result, our backsides would suddenly get a little too toasty without warning.
Filling out the comfort quota is an adjustable, leather-wrapped steering wheel, padded door surfaces, a small but usable center armrest, and sufficient passenger space. Our main complaint focuses on entry and exit, as the seats sit low, making it difficult to get in and out of the Z. Unfortunately, that’s the issue with the majority of low-slung sports cars.
#1. Not a practical car, but why be practical?
Convertibles, especially those of the two-seat variety, are not practical. Even the bachelor with nothing except the shirt on his back knows that there are times when you need to pick up a friend and his luggage at the airport, or you require sufficient cargo space to bring home that build-it-yourself table from Ikea. But practical people don’t buy two-passenger convertibles, at least not for a single, primary vehicle.
That being said, the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster makes the absolute most of what it has been given. With some creativity, the trunk and the various nooks and crannies make this car…well, no, it’ll never be practical, but it’s about as close as you’ll get.
And, really, who cares about your buddy’s luggage? He can stuff all he needs in a carry-on. Experiencing the tight handling, enveloping comfort, and giddy-up of the Z drop-top, all while feeling the whoosh of the wind on a sunny day, is easily worth such minor trade-offs. Life is short. Grab the essentials and leave the baggage behind.