2010 370Z New Car Test Drive
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.
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.