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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
332-horse motor has got power everywhere, with a fairly linear delivery
Automatic has its own downshift rev-matching feature
The ride over bad pavement was one of this car's most pleasant surprises
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.
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.