First Drive: 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Jeffrey Jablansky

The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster is a winner. It was a great ride for a sunny July weekend. It's not on sale yet, so it's a very rare sight and it definitely got noticed. And while it's a stretch to say that the 370Z, in either coupe or roadster form, is a beautiful car, it's certainly a strikingly handsome one. I examined it many times over the weekend in a variety of light conditions and settings, and it I liked it better the more I looked at it. Its voluptuous curves really catch and reflect a lot of light, whether it's bright, midday sunlight or evening twilight or your garage's carriage lights at midnight. In fact, the 370Z roadster looks especially good in the glare of artificial nighttime light, so it ought to snag a prominent position in the valet lot of your favorite dinner restaurant. And as Joe Lorio points out, the new 370Z Roadster has none of the awkwardness that afflicted all previous Z-car droptops.

The 370Z roadster is a great drive. It feels good wrapped around you. There's lots of power from the VQ V-6, the seven-speed automatic works very well, especially when you shift it manually with the gearshifter in the left gate, and the car is commendably stiff and handles bad pavement impressively. In fact, I sought out bad pavement just to feel it hammer through it so well. Handling, braking, steering feel, and all the other performance basics are top-notch. Okay, maybe they're not quite as finely tuned and finessed as they are in the Porsche Boxster, but try finding a Porsche Boxster loaded to the gills like this car for $47K.

From a livability standpoint, the 370Z is also impressive. I have driven so many hardtop convertibles over the past couple of years, I am so accustomed to losing cargo space with the top down, I just assumed that this would be the case with the 370Z, forgetting that it has a traditional ragtop. So when I was heading to Costco to buy two 40-pound bags of dog food, I thought to myself, keep the top down for the trip there, because you'll surely have to have it up on the way home, to make room for the dog food. But then I checked the trunk and realized, duh, it's a ragtop, and it does not intrude on the trunk one bit. Yep, the 80 pounds of dog food fit, no problem, plus four gallons of apple juice. The rest of the Costco loot went into the passenger's footwell.

Like my colleagues, I was also impressed with the interior, especially the suede-like fabric lining the door panels and the legrests for the center tunnel. I did find that the optional Bose stereo was distorted at very high volume while playing XM satellite station 81 dance music, but Nissan tells me that the radio in our pre-production car was not yet fully calibrated. When playing the classical station, it had commendable clarity.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

New Car Research

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