2010 Nissan 370Z
MSRP
$37,320
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2010 Nissan 370Z Expert Review:Autoblog

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster – Click above for high-res image gallery

The first and possibly most important thing you need to know about the new 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster is that Nissan knew it'd be building a convertible from day one. Over beers and some yummy Asian food with Bruce Campbell, Nissan's VP of design, we learned that the 350Z Roadster was an afterthought – at least from a design standpoint. In other words, when Campbell's team penned the 350Z, they weren't thinking the top would be coming off. Which is why the convertible 350Z was – to be kind – awkward looking.

The trophy for best looking Z convertible sits squarely on the 370Z Roadster's mantle.
With the 370Z, however, Campbell's team actually started by sketching the roadster first and the coupe was somewhat of an afterthought. Not totally, of course – they knew there would be a hardtop – but the regular 370Z's creased and angled roof is essentially lifted from the GT-R. It's not bad, per say, and after the Nineties 300ZX and the original 240Z, the new 370Z is probably the best looking Z of them all. Probably, because you could make a strong case for the 280Z, funny bumpers and all. And some folks will argue that the 350Z is actually the best looking of the bunch, even though it's a bit too Audi TT for our tastes.

There is no debate, however, about the best looking convertible Z – that trophy sits squarely on the 370Z Roadster's mantle. The 1993-1996 300ZX convertible was just weird, 99% due to the fact that Nissan left the basket handle B-pillar in place. It also came with an MSRP of $44,678 – over a decade ago. Comparing the 370Z to its forebearer, the last model looked painfully hemorrhoidal. Junk in the trunk and then some. Top up it looked like the car was wearing an ill-fitting wig. The "design" didn't work because, as Campbell it explained, it was more marketed than designed.
This time out, all one has to do is take in the deeply curved mainline to grok the essence of Z.



Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.



The shorter, wider 370Z Roadster, however, works fabulously. First and foremost, the top not only fits but looks like it fits. One design point that Nissan stressed was the way in which the leading edge of the canvas roof snugs up against the top of the A-pillar, creating a cantilever effect. Going back to the 350Z Roadster, its cloth top meets the back of the A-pillar, which looks famously strange. Also good (and much improved) are the 370Z's rear fenders. They're curved, sexy haunches this time out instead of flat, dull metal panels. Nissan's decision to stick with a cloth top rather than go for a folding hardtop also keeps the proportions (and weight) in check. Think Jessica Biel as opposed to Kim Kardashian.



Inside, the Roadster is much like the Coupe only with a bit more refinement. For instance, if you opt for the ventilated leather seats, they're heated
and cooled. The air-conditioning system for the seats is separate from the normal A/C, which makes sense in a convertible, right? Because you're going to run into situations where you only want one of your sides cool. The only issue we found is that the seat ventilation system is quite noisy, even with the top down and the wind rushing by. It took us a while to figure out what that extra gushing sound was, but it was the seats. Unfortunately, the orange accented dials are even harder to read in direct sunlight than in the Coupe. And after a third look, we hate the fuel/temp/info gauge even more. If you're wondering, the top takes about 15 seconds to do its folding thing.



When you remove a car's roof, you create compromises. It's rare that compromised cars win over our hearts, let alone minds, because the things enthusiasts love typically get left on the cutting room floor. With a convertible you gain weight and lose stiffness. The less rigid part makes sense, as the C-pillar acts as a brace right smack in the middle of the vehicle. But why do you gain weight? First, remember that car roofs are very light. In fact, adding a sunroof (glass and a motor) tacks on fifty pounds to most cars. Second, unless you want enough cowl shake to jog a can of paint, that missing stiffness has to be added back into the vehicle, usually in the form of large metal plates welded to the uni-body. Finally, you have the weight of the folding top's mechanism – in this case Nissan went with a smoother hydraulic system as opposed to a lighter but jerkier electric one. Add it all up and going topless is usually a dynamic let down.

Besides aesthetics, another positive attribute of designing the car as a Roadster from the start is that the 370Z is already plenty stiff. So much so that the new Roadster weighs 150 pounds less than the 350Z Roadster, even though the 370Z Coupe is fifty pounds heavier than the 350Z. And the Roadster only weighs a respectable 200 pounds more than the Coupe. For comparison's sake, that's about the same difference between an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage Roadster. At the end of the day, there's no shame in selling a 3,430 pound convertible, especially one packing 332 horsepower and equipped with a slick-as-snick six-speed manual.



Which leads us to how the 370Z Roadster goes down the road. Typically, we aren't thrilled with convertibles as driving devices. Don't get us wrong, we love the idea of open top motoring, but often times removing a vehicle's roof is akin to cropping out part of its soul. For instance, whatever is special and wonderful about the new Shelby GT500 is thrown out the window (no pun, no pun) once the top gets neutered off. The scalped cars get slower, sloppier and softer. Not what we want in a sports car. Obviously, certain vehicles defy this gripe of ours, like the Mazda Miata, Porsche Boxster and, now, the Nissan 370Z Roadster.

That's right – Nissan's newest is a runner. You can forget about those rogue 200 pounds – top up or down, they don't make a bit of difference. Nissan brought along some regular 370Z Coupes for us to drive side-by-side and you honestly don't notice an acceleration hit when going from coupe to convertible. In fact, the Roadsters ran with the Coupes just fine. However, you
do notice how much more thrilling everything is when the top is dropped. The car suddenly feels more charged, more electric, more alive. One knock on the fixed-head 370Z is that the cabin is a little stuffy. Not bad, per se, but you never really get the sense that you're driving a sports car, even if you're outrunning a Cayman (Nissan relentlessly benchmarked the Cayman when developing the 370Z). The Roadster changes all that, and then some.



A problem plaguing Nissan's current crop of sport offerings is the lack of exhaust sound. We feel that the actual mechanical sounds of a motor are fine, but that exhaust should be the top audio priority. Lamborghini understands this particular vice all too well. But unlike the 2010 Ford Mustang, Nissan doesn't use a resonator pipe. And unlike the Lexus IS-F, they don't employ a two-stage exhaust. As a result, the regular 370Z is simply quiet even when you're pounding on it, and when you cane the GT-R, you hear nothing but the
whoosh of turbos. There's already been 5,674% too many online arguments about the sound and quality of the VQ's exhaust note. All we're going to add is that at least with the Roadster it's nice that you have the option of listening.

On Highway 1, just north of Santa Cruz, with the top tucked away and the Pacific Ocean on our left, the 370Z Roadster proved idyllic. Powerful, comfortable, refined and missing even the slightest hint of cowl shake, it was hard to envision a better car for the situation. The chassis feels like it's cut from diamond, the motor pulls and pulls and the view over the hood is splendid. As a result, the rear-drive 370Z has a bit of dual-modeness to it. Meaning that the car (and its occupants) are perfectly happy to just limp along at posted limits, taking in the birds and the clouds. But should you decide to hammer on the throttle, the 370Z Roadster instantly hammers back. Remember, 332 hp is about what the last generation M3's inline-six put out. The Roadster can sprint. Plus, unlike a Miata, it's not out of tricks by the time you reach 80 mph. The 370Z Roadster is one of the easiest, most drama-free topless cars we've ever driven over 100 mph.



Despite the good straight line speed, the real shocker is the 370Z Roadster's handling. Why? Because again, convertibles are heavier and less rigid than their coupe counterparts. Extra weight and unwelcome body-twist are always the enemy when it comes to canyon carving, or at least they're supposed to be. But on some severely twisted tarmac between Pescadero and La Honda, the new Z Roadster proved exceptional. An honest-to-goodness athlete, with great visibility to boot. The car rarely misstepped – and when it did, it was more likely driver error (ahem)
. Admittedly, the beautiful and lightweight (and optional) 19-inch RAYS wheels did invoke a little bump steer, but only on the crumblier sections of pavement. Despite that, we walked away impressed by the Roadster's back road prowess.

While not quite up to the Miata ideal of open top Japanese motoring (i.e. reborn British motoring), the 370Z really isn't that far off. Yes, it weighs more, but the Nissan is more than twice as powerful. Because of the early (and smart) design decisions, it's missing most, if not all, of the bugaboos that haunt convertibles – especially those based on preexisting coupes.



How good is the 370Z Roadster? You wouldn't be wrong thinking of it as a baby/bargain basement Ferrari California. Both are comfy open tourers with more power in reserve than the average owner needs and enough handling prowess to take on a track day or two, even though they never will. Also, we think the 370Z's better looking than the latest topless prancing horse. Put it like this: aside from the Roadster's $37,000 price tag, we can't think of any reason to choose the stuffier, less dynamic 370Z Coupe. Unless that Coupe happens to have a Nismo badge bolted to its rear. But that, dear friends, is another story. Until then, enjoy the Roadster.



Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Convertible joins redesigned lineup.

Introduction

The Nissan 370Z fits between more expensive sports cars like the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and less expensive, less powerful cars like the Mazda Miata. Available as a coupe or convertible, the Z also competes with the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, though it is sportier and only offers seating for two instead of four. 

The coupe version of the Z was redesigned for 2009, getting a new name to reflect a larger engine. The redesigned version sports a shorter wheelbase and all-new styling inside and out. For 2010, the convertible version gets the same treatment. In both cases, the sixth generation of the Z is the best yet. 

The wheelbase of this sixth-generation car is almost four inches shorter than the previous-generation 350Z, and all of the sheet metal is new. Although the styling has something plainly in common with the pre-2009 model, almost every plane and contour is subtly or distinctly different. 

The previous 350Z was fun to drive, but the latest-generation 370Z is a revelation. With the shortened body came increased torsional rigidity, which results in a greater feeling of agreement from all parts of the chassis. It now feels agile rather than brutal, supple rather than rigid, and it is easier to drive as a result. Quick, responsive steering also helps. 

The roadster is sturdier than most open-top competitors, but isn't as solid and controlled as the coupe. 

The 370Z is fast. The 3.7-liter V6 can motivate the car from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 5.2 seconds. Power is readily available across all rev ranges, but the V6 can sound somewhat gruff during hard acceleration. We like the new SynchroRev feature available with the six-speed manual transmission. It blips the throttle during downshifts to match revs and keep the car from getting upset during performance driving. The responsive seven-speed automatic transmission also has a rev matching feature, and it comes with steering wheel shift paddles for those who want to exercise more control. 

The new generation Z is much improved on the inside over the pre-2009 models. The materials are much richer looking and the design escapes the low-rent effect of the old 350Z. Along with the improved aesthetics comes rational layout and control function. 

There's still ample space in the seats for two occupants to travel in comfort. The coupe has a modest but usable rear cargo area under the hatch, while the convertible has a small trunk sized for a couple of duffle bags at best. 

We did find a couple of minor drawbacks. Rear visibility can be limited in both body styles, entry/exit is strictly for younger and more limber occupants, and engine and tire noise can intrude. The roadster suffers from wind noise when the top is down. 

The Nismo model introduced for 2010 is best for track use. It has more performance features but has a very hard ride and is considerably louder than the standard versions. 

Fast, agile and with a civilized interior, the 370Z is one of the best performance values on the market. 

Lineup

The 2010 Nissan 370Z is offered in two body styles, coupe and convertible, and three models. The coupe comes in base ($29,990), Touring ($34,660) and Nismo ($39,190) models. The convertible is only offered in base ($36,970) and Touring ($40,520) trim. The 370Z base models come with a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 332 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. The Nismo has a 350-horsepower version of the same engine. All models except the Nismo are offered with a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability ($1,300 to $1,470, depending on the model). 

Nissan 370Z models come standard with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, height-adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button start, power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature, power mirrors, power door locks with auto-lock feature, center console, rear window defroster with timer, two 12-volt power outlets, dual overhead map lights, four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer, automatic bi-xenon headlights, theft-deterrent system, and P225/50WR18 front and P245/45WR18 rear tires on alloy wheels. The convertible comes with a power convertible soft top. 

The 370Z Touring model adds heated four-way power alcantara and leather-appointed sport seats with adjustable lumbar support; a Bose audio system with eight speakers (includes dual subwoofer), 6CD/MP3 changer, and XM satellite radio (XM subscription sold separately), Bluetooth hands-free phone system, HomeLink universal garage door opener, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The convertible adds ventilated seats while the hatchback gets a rear cargo cover. 

The 370Z Nismo model has several modifications in the interest of performance. It comes only with the six-speed manual transmission with Nissan's SynchroRev rev match feature, as well a viscous limited-slip differential, lightweight Rays forged aluminum wheels with P245/40YR19 front and P285/35YR19 rear Yokohama Advan sport tires, Nissan Sport Brakes, Nismo-brand front strut brace, and firmer dampers, springs and stabilizer bars. The exterior gets a different nose with an integrated chin spoiler, special side sills, a unique rear bumper, and a taller, functional rear spoiler. Inside, there are Nismo logos on the seats, which feature black and red fabric with red stitching, a Nismo tachometer, red stitching on the steering wheel, a smooth-leather-wrapped shift knob, aluminum pedals and a serialized plaque of authenticity. 

The 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition is equipped like a coupe Touring model with the Sport package (see below), plus a premium exterior color, smoke-finish wheels, anniversary badges on the rear hatch and front strut tower brace, and red brake calipers. Inside, it will have red leather seats and door panel inserts, anniversary seatback and floormat embroidery, a plaque of authenticity, and red stitching on the center stack, shift boot and knee pads. 40th Anniversary models come with a commemorative satin car cover. 

Options are limited. The Navigation package ($1,850) offers a GPS powered by a hard drive and featuring voice recognition and a touch-screen display. The system includes real-time traffic information from XM NavTraffic, which requires a paid subscription. Also bundled in this option is a 9.3 Gig Music Box hard drive and interface system for iPods and other MP3 players. 

The Sport package for the coupe ($3,000) and convertible ($2,800) adds 19-inch forged lightweight aluminum-alloy Rays wheels fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance radials. Spoilers are fitted fore and aft, which help to lower the coupe's drag coefficient from 0.29 to 0.28. Also included with the Sport package are Nissan Sport Brakes with 14-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rear rotors (versus 12.6/12.1-inch standard rotor sizes) with four-piston front and two-piston rear aluminum calipers. The chassis calibrations are otherwise the same as on the base car. 

Other options consist of performance brake pads for the Touring convertible ($490), an Aerodynamics package with a front air deflector and a rear spoiler ($650), aluminum door sills ($200), floor mats ($115), mud guards ($220), a cargo mat ($95), and a spare tire for the convertible ($490). 

Safety features include dual-stage front airbags plus front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags for torso protection. The coupe also has curtain side airbags for head protection. Active head restraints are fitted to both body styles, as is a tire-pressure monitor. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control. 

Walkaround

The current generation of the Z is almost three inches shorter and 1.3 inches wider than the pre-2009 models. The coupe was updated to the new platform for the 2009 model year and the convertible gets the same changes for 2010. 

Both body styles exhibit crisper contours and tighter surface tension on the panels. Front overhang is perhaps still a little long, but it is in the best interests of efficient aerodynamics. Vertical bars in the front grille opening make the car look a little like a feeding manta ray. We think the front end has a definite aftermarket look, kinda like it was designed by Need for Speed video game players. 

Although it's not immediately obvious, one of the most telling aspects of the new design is that the doors, rear hatch and hood are all made from aluminum, obviously in the quest for lower weight. Although the hood of the previous Z was aluminum, it used steel supports. Not in this one. Despite the added strength in the body, Nissan claims a 90-pound weight reduction. 

Nissan chose to retain the vertical metallic exterior door handle, which is not our favorite feature because it's difficult to grasp. As a gesture of respect to the designers of the first Z-car, the base line of the coupe's rear quarter window sweeps up just as it did on the original 1970 Datsun 240Z. We think that little nod to history has been skillfully adapted. In more modern vein, the front and rear lights are hooked or boomerang-shaped for improved visual effect, and they're quite unlike the symmetrical shapes found on the preceding model. Attractive Z-badged turn signal markers fill the void between the front wheels and the front-door shut line. 

The convertible is a two-seat roadster with a power cloth top. Nissan knew early in the design process that a convertible would join the lineup, so the convertible top looks to be better integrated this time around. With the top up, the body silhouette looks more natural and less awkward than it did on the 350Z. The roadster comes standard with a black top, and a Bordeaux (maroon) top is optional. The top is cloth, not vinyl, and inside it adds a headliner for better interior isolation. There is no latch for drivers to flip or turn. This allows for remote operation via a button on each door handle. 

The surface of the bodywork is comparatively devoid of bling on both body styles. Nissan's hamburger logo graces the front end, and a shiny 370Z badge decorates the rump, but it's otherwise tastefully simple. 

At the rear, the new lights combine with more-rounded contours to produce an elegant effect not unlike that of a Porsche. The dual exhaust outlets are tidily integrated with the rear fascia, and so is the rear spoiler when fitted as part of the Sport package. But we think more could have been made of the tail with a diffuser-like lower edge. Altogether, we think the appearance is more subtle and mature than the somewhat squat aspects of the outgoing model. 

Models with the Sport package get 19-inch Rays wheels with five artfully faceted split spokes. They look terrific peeking from the 370Z's muscular wheelwells. The base 18-inch wheels are very attractive, too. 

The Nismo is only offered as a coupe, and it has several exterior modifications to give it improved aerodynamics and more performance capability. The most noticeable difference is the extended, aerodynamic nose. The base car's fang-like underbite is gone, replaced by a cleaner look with a very prominent chin spoiler. The Nismo also has wider side sills, a unique rear bumper with a substantial lower diffuser, and a taller, functional rear spoiler. All told, the Nismo is 7.1 inches longer than the other models, with most of that extra length in the nose. 

Interior

The interior is hugely improved in this sixth generation Z-car, with much richer-looking materials and a design that escapes the low-rent effect of the pre-2009 350Z. A high-tech looking steering wheel (shared with the Maxima) is a bold centerpiece in the dash, a large Z gleaming in its center boss. The wheel was skimmed to produce differing thicknesses around its circumference, and tightly clad in solid and perforated leather at the appropriate segments. Buttons stud the beefy spokes for close-at-hand control of the stereo and cruise control. 

The instrument panel still moves with the adjustable steering column, and still has a passing resemblance to a motorcycle gauge cluster. The gauges are large and clear, with a 9000-rpm tachometer sitting dead center. A 180-mph speedometer is set off to the right, and a rather unusual aluminum-look circle at the left contains two rows of LEDs for temperature and fuel level indication. We're not particularly fond of these. 

Naturally, the three auxiliary gauges that have previously graced the Z-car's dash top are there, providing the time, oil temperature and battery state of charge. The seats in this generation are larger and more supportive than before, and are of slightly different design right to left. Fittingly, the driver gets more aggressive bolsters than does the passenger. 

In the coupe, the inconvenient shock-tower support bar that seriously compromised luggage space in the old car went the way of the shortened midsection, and there is now a less-intrusive cross-car bar directly behind the seats. Rear luggage space is quite usable now. While the rear hatch provides unimpeded access, there is only 6.9 cubic feet of cargo space, far less than the 22 cubic feet in the Chevrolet Corvette. The convertible's trunk has only 4.2 cubic feet of space, about enough for a couple of duffle bags. Thankfully, the convertible top operation doesn't impede on the trunk space, and Nissan provides a parcel shelf big enough for a laptop bag behind each seat. 

Small-items storage is just adequate. Unlike the last generation, this one has a glove box. There are two cupholders in the center console, with one located in a shallow center bin, and two more in the doors. Models without the navigation system also have a dashboard bin that'll fit items as large as CD cases. 

The coupe's big rear B-pillars produce distinct blind spots. Drivers can work around this by positioning the large outside mirrors to compensate. The convertible has predictably poor rear visibility with the top up. 

On automatic-transmission equipped cars, alloy shift paddles sprout from the steering column, their rear faces coated with a matt texture for positive finger actuation. In cars with the navigation system, the screen is tidily integrated into the center console, the usual Nissan ATM-like keyboard neatly incorporated at its base. 

Along with the improved aesthetics comes rational layout and control function. Operating the stereo system is straightforward, and learning the navigation functions shouldn't require any reference to the manual. The standard four-speaker stereo produces pretty good quality sound, so we expect exceptional performance from the 240-watt Bose unit found in the Touring model, with its six speakers and dual subwoofers, though we haven't listened to it. 

Access to the car, as with many sport coupes, can be difficult, requiring a step down. However, the doors open fully and the sills are not unduly wide. For those inclined toward sportier cars, the new interior now compares favorably with cars costing a lot more. Interior noise, however, may prove burdensome. The car transmits a lot of road and engine noise. The convertible also has a problem with top-down wind noise. This is caused by a pair of seals for the convertible top that located behind the occupants' outside shoulders. Wind seems to be drawn to these areas with no easy escape. Rolling the windows up about a quarter of the way eliminates the problem. 

Driving Impression

The pre-2009 350Z was fun to drive, but the Nissan 370Z is a revelation. Where the 350Z was somewhat crude in certain circumstances, this one is much better integrated. One can better appreciate a cohesive sense of control from the wheel and pedals. The control relationships just seem better networked, all on the same page. 

With the shortened body came increases in torsional rigidity at both ends of the car, and this solidity concentrates the feeling of agreement from all parts of the chassis. It now feels agile rather than brutal, supple rather than rigid, and it is easier to drive as a result. To make up for the loss of the top, the roadster gets additional reinforcements in the A pillars, side sills and behind the seats, as well as an underbody M brace. The Nismo gets a front strut tower brace. 

We tested a 370Z coupe with the Sport package at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Nevada, and the car took to the course as if it was born for the track. The Sport package adds wider 19-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential and Nissan Sport Brakes, with 14-inch-diameter rotors up front and 13.8-inch rotors in the rear. Since the 370Z uses a much-modified version of Nissan's FM platform, we expected some of the tail-happiness we've seen in cars using that chassis. But while we could occasionally provoke a spot of tail-wagging by adding too much power at corner exits, or by turning hard on a trailing throttle, the transition was progressive and easy to read. We were also pleased that the electronic stability control system left plenty of room to kick out the tail, but we were more impressed that the tail was so controllable with the ESC turned off. 

The steering is weighted just about perfectly for a sports car. The Z steers with great precision, turns in decisively, and will tighten the line even at high lateral-g loadings. There's simply more grip than you first think. And the big brakes as fitted to Sport models work quite well. We were able to get them smoking, however, after several strenuous laps around Spring Mountain. We would definitely recommend the Nissan Sport Brakes to anyone intending to drive their Z regularly on twisty canyon roads or occasionally take it to a racetrack. 

During aggressive maneuvers, the Nismo performs very much like a coupe with the Sport package, only with a considerably harder ride. The Nismo's performance tuning makes it too harsh for street use, unless you live in an area with glass smooth roads. The suspension is so stiff, in fact, that it can make the car skip over highway joints and tar strips when there is a lateral load. In these instances, the base suspension would be more likely to maintain contact with the road. 

The roadster, on the other hand, is softer than the coupe. Without a solid roof structure, it is more prone to flex, though we find it to be one of the most solid convertibles on the market. Buyers who don't regularly push the car to or near the limits of adhesion will notice little difference in handling. However, if ultimate performance is the goal, the coupe is the choice. 

For those not practiced at the art of double-clutching and heel-and-toeing, Nissan's SynchroRev system, the first ever offered with a manual transmission, helps out enormously by blipping the throttle on downshifts to match engine speed with rear-axle speed for smooth synchronization. 

Unlike true double-clutching, SynchroRev does not first select neutral then rev the engine to the required speed, so the synchronizers are still called upon to help out. You can feel the sensation through the shift lever as the synchros clutch in, and the purists among us would still prefer to do our own legwork. But there's no denying that it's a brilliant idea for most people, and even for purists on occasion. 

Cars with the automatic transmission also have a rev matching feature called Downshift Rev Matching. This works well, too, preventing the car's balance from being upset as you downshift for that next fast corner. The automatic is also well matched to the engine, making the power easy to tap. 

Nissan's VVEL variable-valve timing systems has endowed the 370Z with a very broad torque spread, so forays to the 7500-rpm redline are not often needed. But when you do venture there, the famous high-rpm hullabaloo and clutch growl we know so well from the VQ-series engines turns back up. But it's hardly there at all at lower engine speeds, and that's another sign of the car's improved manners. 

If you didn't know the difference, you might swear the 370Z had a V8. Nissan wouldn't give a 0-60 mph estimate, but Road & Track magazine pushed a Z to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. That's faster than the torquier, V8-powered Ford Mustang GT. Drivers will notice little difference between the 332-horsepower base engine and the Nismo's 350-horse version, other than the fact that the Nismo is considerably louder. The Nismo's constant engine and tire drone is another reason this car is meant mostly for the track. 

Summary

Improving technology lends a broad operating range to the new Nissan 370Z in every aspect, making it a usable everyday commuter as well as a fun track day car. Its civilized character and affordable price will likely attract one-car singles for all-around motoring activities. Buyers will find they have purchased one of the best performance bargains on the market. The Nismo, however, lacks the base car's refinement, making it best for hardcore enthusiasts. 

Barry Winfield filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the 370Z Sport at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Nevada. Correspondent Kirk Bell reported from San Francisco. 

Model Lineup

Nissan 370Z coupe ($29,990); 370Z coupe Touring ($34,660); 370Z convertible ($36,970); 370Z convertible Touring ($40,520); 370Z Nismo coupe ($39,190). 

Assembled In

Japan. 

Options As Tested

Sport Package ($3,000) with 19-inch forged lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels, SynchroRev Match, Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance radials, front and rear spoilers, Nissan Sport Brakes. 

Model Tested

Nissan 370Z ($29,990). 

*The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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