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Nissan's 370Z loses its top

2010-06-04 09:14
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer NISSAN
Model 370Z Roadster
Engine 3.7-litre V6
Power 245kW @ 7000rpm
Torque 363Nm @ 5200rpm
Transmission six-speed synchromatch manual or seven-speed automatic with paddle shifts
Zero To Hundred 5.5 seconds ; 5.8 seconds
Top Speed 250 km/h (limited)
Fuel Tank 72 l
Fuel Consumption 11.2 l/100 km; 10.9 l/100 km
Boot Size 140 litres
Steering speed-sensitive hydraulic power steering
ABS with EBD and brake assist
Airbags six
Tyres 19-inch forged aluminium alloys
Front Suspension double wishbone multi-link aluminium-alloy with stabiliser bar and strut bar
Rear Suspension independent multi-link aluminium-alloy with stabiliser bar, strut bar and aluminium-alloy sub frame
Service Intervals 15 000 km
Service Plan 3 year / 90 000km
Warranty 3 year / 90 000km
Rivals Audi TT Roadster; Porsche Boxster

Hailey Philander

The formula is simple. One engine, two transmission options, choose a colour (the white, arguably, is the prettiest) and away you go. If you need satnav, buy a clip-on model and save at least R30 000. You’d have to watch your DVDs from your couch at home, though…

The stylish Nissan 370Z Roadster is the second and final model in the Japanese manufacturer’s sports car range, and is a fitting match to the Coupe launched here in 2009.

Designed as a convertible model from the ground up (rather than a simple hack job with the Coupe’s roof), the new roadster is shorter, wider and lighter than the soft-top 350Z it replaces. Nissan adds this car is lighter than its predecessor, while being at least 60 kg lighter than the current coupe. The weight reduction is attributed mainly to the body construction, Nissan said, since the new car’s construction uses a generous mix of aluminium and other lightweight materials.

As it is a sports car that is meant to spend a fair amount of its life sans roof, the 370Z Roadster does with extra support in places such as the A pillars, door sills, and (very discreet) roll bar. It may be more rigid than its predecessor by only 4%, but its added safety goodies make for the same crash safety ratings as its hard top brother.

Roof, be gone!

What is not shared with the coupe is the folding roof that neatly drops away and out of sight. Nissan has dropped the PVC outfit for a cloth roof with double insulation to handle extreme temperatures and excessive noise. It is claimed to take 20 seconds to go from cooped in to free and should, according to Nissan, be good for operation at crawling speeds up to 5 km/h.

A quick check showed the unit we drove had to be completely stationery before the roof would be released, but it could just be the luck of driving a unit with an unhappy roof. All the same, even 5km/h would make it impossible to drop the roof in peak hour traffic although true posers will be happy to know the roof can be popped remotely by using the key fob.

On the safety side, the 370Z Roadster comes with a full arsenal of safety kit shared with its sibling, although Nissan is particularly proud of the innovative side curtain airbags that are deployed from the door in the event of a crash. This feature is considered by Nissan as being among the first in this class.

Mechanically, the Roadster is identical to the Coupe, too, with power sourced from a mighty potent (and mighty entertaining) 3.7-litre V6. Power of 245 kW is on tap from a captivating 7 000 r/min and the peak torque of 363 Nm is available from 5 200 r/min. It comes standard with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic, although only the auto was made available for the scenic Cape drive.

Aural pleasure

The engine sounds absolutely amazing and the seven-speed box with its nice, quick changes is quite assertive when gearing down, but these are precisely what makes it a fun-loving, free-spirited car. The ride quality is quite good and not all that choppy – for a drop-top, that is – on imperfect surfaces. Body flex is almost unnoticeable and that sickly crashing sensation often felt on less refined roadsters was appreciably missing.  The steering is a marvel requiring firm inputs but rewarding with crisp turn-in and accurate placement.

This Roadster is lots of fun although if you’re the fussy type there are a few things that could annoy you. The lack of reach adjustment for the steering column is one, as is the unsightly bee sting aerial placed right on the rump.

A clear glass wind deflector with a simple glazed Z is pure class, but this Z has quite a low roofline so there’s a lot of wind buffeting in the cabin in any event. Even at not-so-high speeds. However, the double insulation seems to work well at keeping wind and road roar down when the roof is popped back up.

Its price may seem a little dear at first, but this Roadster does come packed with kit including a limited slip diff, bi-xenon headlamps, a Bose audio system, leather interior and 19-inch alloys. The only option? A crazy Music Box infotainment system with satellite navigation is lifted from the hardcore GT-R  and includes a 9.3 GB hard drive capable of storing up to 3000 songs, iPod and Bluetooth connections, a DVD player (that can, of course, only be operated when the car is stationery) and a crystal-clear seven-inch VGA touch screen.

Service are required at 15 000 km intervals and all cars are sold with a three-year/100 000 km service plan.

370Z Roadster manual – R543 000
370Z Roadster manual with satnav – R564 000
370Z Roadster auto – R561 000
370Z Roadster auto with satnav – R582 000


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