2010 Nissan 370Z Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 14, 2009

A great performance car that starts just under $30,000, the 2010 Nissan 370Z comes close enough to Porsche performance to make you wonder.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com drove the 2010 Nissan 370Z/Roadster to bring you this hands-on road test of its styling, performance, comfort, safety, and features. TheCarConnection.com's experts also compared the new 370Z to other sports coupes and convertibles to bring you the best shopping advice and information possible. The companion 370Z review condenses viewpoints from other respected automotive sites to bring you a summary of opinions from around the Web.

High Gear Media accepted travel expenses to attend the first drive of the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster.

The 2010 Nissan 370Z is a straightforward sports car: one wedgelike body style, two front seats, modest cargo areas, and a 3.7-liter V-6 that pumps out 332 horsepower. It's offered in two models, coupe and Roadster convertible, with a single engine, with manual and automatic transmissions, and in base or Touring trim levels. A special NISMO tuner edition has 350 hp and tighter tuning. The base price of about $30,000 for the six-speed manual Coupe rises to more than $42,000 for the 370Z Touring Convertible.

While the Coupe version was new last year, the 370Z Roadster is the big arrival for 2010. The two versions share much of their styling, which Nissan revamped last year. The current car is trimmed down, nearly four inches shorter than the last edition, with all the length taken from the back. The chopped-down shape looks more handsome than the slightly tubby 350Z of yore, more authentic and sports car-like. It shares some dramatic cues with the earthshaking Nissan GT-R, especially at the union of the roof and windshield, but the arrow-shaped tail lamps are a novel, inventive touch. In all, it's a stubby, purposeful look not unlike that of the new BMW Z4. Roadsters have a double-humped hard cover for the folded fabric top. As with the sheetmetal, the interior improved a lot for 2009, with gauges that move with the tilt steering wheel and a much nicer selection of materials-and a nifty trio of metallic rings on gauges, climate controls, and ancillary meters stacked atop the center console.

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Drivetrains are carried over from the 2009 370Z Coupe, which is a good thing. The engine's a 3.7-liter V-6 that turns out 332 horsepower and hits a high 7,500-rpm redline, but offers plenty of torque at lower revs. Nissan says 0-60-mph times of less than 5 seconds are possible. A tuned version offered in a race-trimmed NISMO Coupe gets a 350-hp model of the same engine. With either the six-speed manual or the seven-speed paddle-shifted automatic, the 370Z rarely misses a shift. Most enthusiasts will prefer the smooth-shifting six-speed manual with the rear-drive Z, for the sake of fetish. It feels sweet and has rev-matching, which blips the throttle during downshifts for smoother downshifting. The paddle-shifted automatic clicks off gears with videogame precision. Fuel economy on the Roadster shouldn't be much less than the automatic Coupe's 18/26 mpg.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the 370Z Roadster and Coupe on the road and on the track, and in general, the shorter wheelbase and wider track improve the Z's dynamics. It's big fun to toss around, and on most road surfaces, it rides much more calmly than in the last edition. At very high speeds (go-directly-to-jail velocities) the tires tend to hunt the subtle grooves of the road, requiring plenty of attention to keep the 370Z on course. Absent those conditions, the Z's steering takes a perfect set, flexes the right kind of driving muscles, and is not so far from the Porsche Boxster mindset as you might think. The NISMO version and its truly stiff ride are best left to weekend racers.

A two-seater on paper, the 2010 Nissan 370Z really does make do with less in terms of cargo room and storage. There's just enough space for adults to be comfortable in the multi-adjustable standard seats; power seats on Touring models add leather and ventilation, and they feel quite good. Trunk room is small and interior storage minimal, however. Compared to the $60,000 BMW Z4, which is no faster, the 370Z finds its way to a lower price point with less distinguished materials. It's put together solidly and a grade above the Mustang in terms of interior finishes, but just about equal with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe-maybe a notch below in soft-touch surfaces and low-gloss good looks, even. Then there's the noise; on some road surfaces, the combination of tire and drivetrain noise is far too loud, even for a sports car. Almost unacceptable for a modern car, it could-and should-be muted fairly easily.

For safe driving, the 2010 Nissan 370Z includes every dynamic and static safety feature you'd expect, including anti-lock brakes, as well as traction and stability control. Side airbags are standard, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags are standard on Coupes. Neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has crash-tested it yet, but the prior versions of the Z coupe and roadster earned mostly four-star ratings.

The 2010 Nissan 370Z is available in either body style in base or Touring trim. Cruise control, power windows, and Nissan's Intelligent Key keyless entry/start are all standard. Coupes offer a Sport package with great-looking 19-inch wheels and a Navigation package that adds a 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive with an iPod interface. Nissan 370Z Roadsters have a fast-folding fabric roof that takes about 20 seconds to stow or raise, via a power button on the console or on the doors. Standard features on the Roadster include Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic, power leather seats with ventilation, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. Roadster Touring models can be equipped with the snazzy 19-inch wheels; sport brakes; a limited-slip differential; and a navigation system with the Music Box hard drive and USB connectivity. The Z's audio interface and navigation systems are favorites at TheCarConnection.com, and in the Roadster, they're tuned to shift audio subtly to accommodate for wind noise; the climate control has a sunny mode, too.

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2010 Nissan 370Z

Styling

The new 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster and NISMO editions bring some diversity and additional styling flair to the very attractive 370Z lineup.

For the 2010 model year, Nissan delivers on its much-anticipated promise of a roadster version of the resurgent 370Z sports car. Unlike the 350Z roadster of two years ago, the 2010 Nissan 370Z droptop appears to be very deliberately designed and the car boasts stunning good looks. Also new for 2009 is track-ready Nissan 370Z NISMO edition.

The 2010 Nissan 370Z is a two-seat sports car that is newly available in five different flavors; there are the standard coupe and convertible offerings, both available in base or Touring trims, and a new-for-2010 NISMO edition that gets both performance and visual enhancements. When the Nissan 370Z debuted last year, the automotive press was largely impressed with the overall styling, which Car and Driver called "largely successful." The curvaceous exterior was originally penned with a roadster model in mind, so the addition of the new convertible model is much more than an afterthought, and it certainly shows in the design. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com rave about the Nissan 370Z convertible, which Automobile says "may be Nissan's first graceful convertible." Left Lane News reviewers revel in the attention that their 370Z roadster generates, bragging that "pedestrians, as well as drivers of cars far hotter than the 370Z would cast longer than passing glances along the flanks of" the Nissan sports car. The performance-oriented Nissan 370Z NISMO edition also gets restyled, and Motor Trend feels that "everything about the all new Nissan NISMO 370Z is better: interior, exterior, and especially the performance." The biggest distinguishing features of the NISMO edition are, according to Autoblog, "a larger rear wing, new bumper, and an aggressive front splitter," along with lightweight wheels and tires. Not all of the styling elements are successful, however, and Motor Trend cautions that "the headlight and taillight clusters are over styled," with sharp angles that combine to form a very unique appearance.

The interior of the 2010 Nissan 370Z is upgraded for the new model year, and its appearance upgrades sit well with the automotive press. The coupe retains much of the interior, which Jalopnik calls "a vast improvement over the 350Z," but the convertible and NISMO are upgraded beyond the coupe. Left Lane News observes that the Nissan 370Z roadster "goes further and refines the interior with taller backed and ventilated seats, rollover bars, and the like," while Motor Trend lists "a bit of decoration" on the NISMO edition-including 16 NISMO emblems throughout the vehicle. Other styling elements include "a minimalist look, with a sculpted dash wrapping around the gauges and passenger confines," according to Automobile. The only major criticism of the interior comes from Motor Trend, where reviewers find that the computer readout is "hard-to-read" and "another case of function following form."

9

2010 Nissan 370Z

Performance

The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster and coupe have a big but livable performance envelope and great road-holding; the NISMO version's probably too much for ordinary drivers.

Drivetrains are carried over from the 2009 370Z Coupe and NISMO coupe, which is a good thing. For both the standard coupe and the Nissan 370Z roadster, Left Lane News reports "the 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine is back for a curtain call," producing an impressive "270 lb-ft. of torque." The top-end 2010 Nissan 370Z NISMO edition gets "a more powerful engine," according to Cars.com reviewers, and the flagship 370Z "runs on a 350-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 with 276 pounds-feet of torque." The base engine provides a very usable power range and almost begs to be driven in the high-rev range, with Motor Trend raving that the powerplant "has got power everywhere." Automobile likes that the engine "sounds better than other recent examples" of Nissan's V-6, and "it certainly flings the 370Z down the road with enthusiasm." For those who find 332 horsepower a bit too pedestrian, Nissan offers the NISMO coupe that Road & Track says will provide "0 to 60 mph times of 4.5 seconds," thanks to the 17-hp boost. According to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the base coupe hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, with the roadster just a step behind at 5.5 seconds.

The Nissan 370Z is available with two transmissions, though, again, the NISMO gets its own exclusive powertrain arrangement. For both the coupes and roadsters, Motor Trend reports that Nissan offers either "a six-speed manual with Nissan's magical SynchroRev Match capability" or a "seven-speed automatic trans with adaptive shift control." Both transmissions score well in reviews surveyed by TheCarConnection.com, with Edmunds in particular noting "although Nissan's six-speed manual gearbox has proven a bit troublesome...it's a nice piece for the roadster." The Nissan 370Z NISMO benefits from the same manual, which Cars.com says "features Nissan's downshift rev-match feature." The seven-speed auto also gets rev-matching, and the high-tech transmission "works very well," according to Automobile. The standard manual-shift feature is a welcome addition for driving enthusiasts, especially when you consider Edmunds' comment that "Nissan expects 70-80 percent of 370Z roadster buyers will get the automatic transmission."

No fuel economy figures are available for the newer entries in the 370Z lineup, but the roadster should offer numbers that are very close to the base coupe. The EPA rates the standard 370Z with either transmission at 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, although ConsumerGuide warns that the engine "requires premium-grade gas." The Nissan 370Z NISMO will likely suffer a fuel-economy penalty thanks to its higher-output engine.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the 370Z Roadster and Coupe on the road and on the track, and in general, the shorter wheelbase and wider track have improved the Z's dynamics. It's big fun to toss around, and on most road surfaces, it rides much more calmly than in the last edition. At very high speeds (go-directly-to-jail velocities) the tires tend to hunt the subtle grooves of the road, requiring plenty of attention to keep the 370Z on course. Absent those conditions, the Z's steering takes a perfect set, flexes the right kind of driving muscles, and is not so far from the Porsche Boxster mindset as you might think. The NISMO version and its truly stiff ride are best left to weekend racers. Other outlets praise the handling even of the Roadster, which loses some body structure and stiffness but not its edge. Edmunds goes so far as to say that "it ranks among the best coupe-to-soft-top conversions we've ever driven," and Left Lane News comes away impressed with "a surefootedness that begged us not to go easy." Ride quality is impressive as well, with Automobile listing the composed ride as "one of the car's most pleasant surprises." For the upgraded NISMO model, Motor Trend reports that "the front damping factor is up 40 percent with the rear up a considerable 140 percent," which contribute to making "the NISMO an incredible track car." The sports version does, however, suffer from an understandable decrease in ride quality compared to the coupe and convertible. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that braking performance is very strong for all three models.

7

2010 Nissan 370Z

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Nissan 370Z continues bound forward in the quality department, but interior noise is disappointing.

Nissan put the 370Z through a quality overhaul last year, and the results are immediately apparent (and appreciated). Also, while many competitors have shifted toward hard-top convertibles that leave little trunk room when the top is down, Nissan's fabric-roofed roadster retains some of the car's cargo-hauling capability.

A two-seater on paper, the 2010 Nissan 370Z really makes do with less in terms of cargo room and storage. There's enough room for adults to be comfortable in the multi-adjustable standard seats; power seats on Touring models add leather and ventilation, and they feel quite good. The interior accommodations of the 2010 Nissan 370Z are improved over last year's seats, with Left Lane News reviewers raving about the "taller backed and ventilated seats" that "result in a refreshed driver at the end of the day." Edmunds is also impressed with the buckets inside this two-seat roadster, noting "the seats...have lots of lateral support," though reviewers warn that "they're also very firm." In terms of overall room, ConsumerGuide finds that the Nissan 370Z is "among the more spacious two seaters," and headroom is respectable inside the roadster even with the top up. Other outlets, like Car and Driver, complain about the tight-fitting cabin, though.

Though it has good interior space for passengers, the 2010 Nissan 370Z has minimal interior storage, which is especially noticeable on the roadster. In the roadster, Left Lane News says "small storage shelves located directly behind the seats are big enough for cameras, a purse, or even an overnight duffel," while the roadster's trunk will, "with some finesse...accommodate a full size golf bag." Motor Trend describes the mechanics of the situation by pointing out that "since the soft-top fits in a small binnacle just behind the seats, there's still a usable trunk." The hardtop coupe fares less well, as expectations are somewhat higher for two-seaters with a fixed roof. ConsumerGuide is particularly critical of the trunk, observing that "Nissan claims 370Z has 6.9 cu ft of cargo space, but it doesn't seem that large."

TheCarConnection.com's editors feel the 370Z is put together solidly; it's a grade above the Mustang, but just competitive with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe-maybe a notch below in soft-touch surfaces and low-gloss good looks. Other sources feel the Nissan 370Z exceeds all expectations in terms of interior quality, with Automobile going so far as to claim that "this is an interior on Audi's plane of perfection, but funkier." Motor Trend appreciates the effort that Nissan puts into the interior, noting especially the "finer materials (read: less hard plastic)." Automobile reviewers go on to point out that "not only are the door armrest and panels nicely padded, but so are the sides of the console." Not everything sits well with those reviewers, however, as they mention "when reaching over your shoulder to grab the seat belt, you can see screws and springs where the [roadster's] top meets the body." Compared to the 350Z lineup, the 370Z seems positively swanky.

Then there's the noise; on some road surfaces, the combination of tire and drivetrain noise is far too loud, even for a sports car. Almost unacceptable for a modern car, it could-and should-be muted fairly easily. Despite the build and materials quality improvements evident on the Nissan 370Z lineup, the car still suffers from a very noise interior. On the roadster, "those big 19-inch Potenzas make a huge racket on the freeway," Edmunds reports, although Car and Driver feels that "with the top down, the cockpit remains relatively serene up to about 70 mph."

9

2010 Nissan 370Z

Safety

Crash tests are pending, but the 2010 Nissan 370Z offers the latest safety features and boasts good visibility on both the coupe and roadster.

For safe driving, the 2010 Nissan 370Z includes every dynamic and static safety feature you'd expect, including anti-lock brakes, as well as traction and stability control. Side airbags are standard, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags are standard on Coupes. Neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has crash-tested it yet, but the prior versions of the Z coupe and roadster earned mostly four-star ratings.

Comparing it to the old Nissan 350Z, Car and Driver reports that "engineers had to add nearly 200 pounds of safety and regulatory bric-a-brac," giving the Nissan 370Z a very sound structure. The convertible is heavier still, and Motor Trend states that additional safety features for that model include "two roll-hoops just aft of the seats." Cars.com adds that the standard safety features include "dual front-, side-impact and side curtain airbags," along with ABS and active head restraints. Autoblog also notes that "the variable ratio brake pedal, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist all work together with the ABS and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) to provide a suitable safety net for ham-fisted frat-boys."

With its low window sills and relatively high seating position, the 2010 Nissan 370Z offers impressive driver sightlines. Automobile reviewers observe that the roadster gets "a decent-sized rear window and reasonable blind spots," and even when the top is up "the view out isn't too bad." As you might expect, the view with the top down is spectacular. On the coupe, ConsumerGuide says "thick rear roof pillars hurt the view" to the corners, "but large outside mirrors help compensate."

8

2010 Nissan 370Z

Features

The 2010 Nissan 370Z's one-touch convertible top is attractive and functional, and audio features are high points.

The 2010 Nissan 370Z is a true bang-for-the-buck sports car, especially in its base coupe trim. Prices on the roadster rise into the low-$40,000 range, but even then it's very competitive against the likes of the Porsche Boxster.

The base 2010 Nissan 370Z coupe starts just under $30,000, placing it among the most capable sports cars in its price range. For $30,000 you won't get much in the way of high-end features, but Automobile feels that "the base equipment is so generous" that "you'll be able to bypass the Touring edition's creature comforts." If you do choose the Touring edition, Motor Trend says you'll be treated to standard "leather, Bluetooth, and Bose audio." Most of those features come standard on the $36,000-plus Nissan 370Z roadster, which also "adds open air action in the form of a new power-operated, fully-lined fabric top with a glass rear window." Reviews surveyed by TheCarConnection.com rave about the top, which Left Lane News says "opens and stows in 19 seconds." Motor Trend appreciates the simplicity of operation, deeming it "a one-touch deal," with no need to latch the top to the windshield header. The top can even be activated from a button on the Nissan 370Z's door.

Inside the roadster, luxurious amenities abound. Chief among them are the "heated and ventilated seats" that Motor Trend says "are standard." Edmunds reports that both temperature settings are incredibly effective, with the "industrial-strength seat heaters [sending] a continuous shot of heat up the length of your spine," complemented by an "equally powerful seat ventilation feature." The 2010 Nissan 370Z also features a Bose stereo, which is optional on base versions of the coupe, but Automobile cautions that "the optional Bose stereo was distorted at very high volume."

Options aren't exactly the Nissan 370Z's forte, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com expose a dearth of available extras. However, the 2010 Nissan 370Z is relatively well-equipped anyway, so most consumers won't miss sifting through an endless options list. Car and Driver reviewers remark that, overall, "options are few: a nav system, a $1,300 seven-speed automatic, and a $3,000 Sport Package." Other options for the 2010 Nissan 370Z are listed by Automobile Magazine as "navigation, which includes iPod connectivity and a 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive."

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April 21, 2015
For 2010 Nissan 370Z

Z car fun. Always a pleasure to drive. Step on the right petal and go.

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This car has been a non stop blast. Great performance. Cruising or on the back roads.
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