- Tight styling
- Powerful, 332-horsepower V-6
- Rev-matching manual transmission
- Paddle-shifted automatic
- Solid performance/dollar ratio
- Plenty of tire noise
- Lots of drivetrain noise, too
- Improved interior can be a tight fit
- Not much storage space at all
A great performance car that starts just under $30,000, the 2010 Nissan 370Z comes close enough to Porsche performance to make you wonder.
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.
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.