THE FACTS: NISSAN 370Z ROADSTER
TOP SPEED: 155MPH
CO2 G/KM: 254G/KM
MPG COMBINED: 25.9MPG
BACK in 1969, Nissan created a hell of stir when it began selling its Z sports car, a two-seat GT coupe that was not only great looking: it was also fast, reliable and very affordable.
This is the 370Z, its spiritual successor, albeit in roadster guise and, I’m glad to say, still true to the original concept of sexy, fast and cheap. Squat looking thanks to its long bonnet and short-deck at the rear, it may be Japanese but it looks as Californian as can be (it was designed there).
Sadly I’m driving it in the Lea Valley, not the Napa Valley. But the roof is down, albeit with the heat blowing at me through the 370Z’s stylish and (thankfully) efficient vents and the seat heaters on too. And despite the cold, the cockpit of the 370Z is really a great place to be.
Its predecessor, the 350Z, was criticised for lacking in interior quality but there are no such gripes with this one. In fact it’s very good thanks to its GT Pack trim. The power seats and steering wheel are in leather and the door is black suede. Details such as an aluminium finish on the dials and switchgear, and aluminium pedals and footrest create some nice contrast. Perhaps the only area where things grate are the door pulls – which still feel a little plasticy. The steering wheel controls are easy to reach and simple to use and the Bose audio system is certainly good enough, though I suspect it plays Led Zeppelin rather better than Mahler 2.
Outside the sharp styling with its spinning blade-like 19” alloys and similarly sharp lamp design (front and rear) suggest the hardcore nature of the drive. The engine is a brutish 3.7-litre V6 which produces 328PS but more importantly makes a fantastically loud noise that contributes to the exhilaration of what is undeniably powerful acceleration. This model has a seven-speed automatic gearbox, though with a manual shift mode which is accessed by magnesium paddle shifters that sit just behind the steering wheel. I find I like them a great deal and I am not always positive about paddles. Acceleration time is 5.8secs but unusually it feels quicker, even with the roof up.
The front engine rear wheel drive setup is considered to be the best option there is for sports cars and I find the car has bags of grip and (in my amateur hands at least) gets nowhere near its limits even when I’m pushing as hard as I can go. Yet brilliantly, if you floor the throttle at standstill, there is still the sense that the car has enough power to cause its rear wheels to lose grip. This makes a nice sliding drift a real possibility. Such that I lament the limited time we have together and the public – as opposed to closed, private – roads I’m driving on. The ride is very firm, which to me seems to be entirely the point, though I am sure it wouldn’t suit some drivers.
I could tell you that it takes just 20 seconds to power down the 370Z’s fabric hood. But really nobody cares. More importantly, even with the roof down there is no flex in the car’s body, or so little as to defy my senses in any case. This is because, unusually, the car has been engineered from scratch as a convertible. And it’s quiet enough with the roof up that any noise you hear comes from the tyres and not through the roof.
Which all in all makes for as entertaining a drive as £37k can buy you. Oh, yes…the price. That’s not a misprint. The spirit of the Z-car is safe.