Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 5, 2017
The 370Z has aged rather well. It’s L-shaped lights, hunched rear end, and long-hood short-cockpit proportions have stood the test of time. Most luxury coupes after a decade look archaic, barren, and unworthy of today’s streets. The 370Z, particular this red roadster version, defies that logic.
The 370Z has been around since 2009 when it replaced the outgoing 350Z. Back then, dynamically, it was a hoot of a sports car. With a powerful naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6 under the hood pushing over 300 horsepower, it was a force to be reckoned with. But in today’s market filled with turbochargers, direct fuel injection, and fancy adaptive dampers, the 370Z has fallen behind.
That doesn’t make it inferior, though. After piloting the 370Z Roadster for a week, we were reminded of what sports cars used to be like: hydraulic steering with a good load of feedback, a linear and responsive engine, and an organic and wholesome driving experience. It’s also refreshing not see a “Sport Mode” button, which every other sports car seems to have these days. The 370Z is always in Sport Mode.
The drop-top 370Z isn’t the purist’s choice of car, though. The folding fabric top adds weight with extra mechanicals and structural bracing to keep it as rigid as the coupe. Our test vehicle was also loaded up with the optional (and heavier by 25 kg) seven-speed automatic transmission. Does it ruin and rob the 370Z of the driving essence that we’ve come to love over the years? Well, it’s safe to say that the Roadster isn’t as playful, visceral, or as natural feeling as the Coupe, but if you’re only driving at five-tenths of the car’s limit, then it’s nearly there.
The engine is the gem of the powertrain. Without any form of forced induction, the high-revving V6 feels mighty and powerful under throttle application. The build-up is vigorous, the gears are tall, and getting the needle up to the 7,500 rpm is intoxicating. Despite having “only” 270 lb-ft of torque, the 370Z feels athletic off the line, even with the added weight of the Roadster. This thing feels like it can keep up with the BMW M240i Convertible and Audi TTS Roadster.
Be that as it may, the biggest disappointment with the 370Z is in the sound department. Even with the roof down, the exhaust is quiet and muted. There’s practically no exhaust noise, only intake. Even when revving up to the redline, the mechanical whirring only begs you to fit an aftermarket exhaust.
The good news it that the driving dynamics make up for the lack of auditory drama. The 370Z is a bulky coupe but one with a tough shell. The extra stiffening and bracing has kept the Roadster incredibly stiff, the suspension is rock solid but not jarring, and body control around turns isn’t bad either. You feel the extra weight transferring around the rear, but there’s a large and palpable buffer before you feel the tail swinging out and wide - we blame the heavily intrusive traction control, which always seems to play on the safe side.
The steering feels old-school hydraulic, well because it is. It does employ vehicle-speed sensitive power steering though, which stiffens up at higher speeds and lightens up at lower speeds, but I only felt the varying weight past 80 km/h.
Enthusiasts may lambast the choice of an automatic slushbox but I’m glad to report that it’s pretty good. It’s no 8-speed ZF or dual-clutch but it fires off downshifts very quickly with a crisp rev match. Upshifts are a pinch slower yet the automatic keeps up, engages, and holds gears long enough to render the role of the paddle shifters moot.
I do miss wrestling the bulky baseball-like manual shifter around and heel-toeing before corners to really juice out this high-revving motor, but you won’t lose much with the automatic. You’ll just have an easier time commuting and fulfilling a less dynamically demanding role, one that I think suits the Roadster much better. It’s a better cruiser than it is a carver.
With driving out of the way, we can talk more about interior comfort and daily driving impressions. Though the exterior has aged like a fine wine, the interior hasn’t. Plastics are abundant and there’s questionable panel fitment across the dashboard. The right paddle shifter on our test vehicle felt like it had a loose screw, and the gear shifter wiggled and shuffled around in place. We’re not asking it to be an Infiniti, but we want at least some levels of luxury with a price tag over $50,000.
The seats need a rework as well. They’re not comfortable, and need more lumbar support - you really feel it after an hour or two into your commute. We have the same complaint from previous 370Z models that we’ve tested - when you lean back on the headrest, the headrest poles protrude out of the seat back and dig into your spine - not a pleasant feeling when you just want to sit back and relax. Dear Nissan, please steal the phenomenal seats from the Infiniti Q60.
The steering wheel doesn’t telescope fore and aft, and only goes up and down. However it’s easy enough to find a low and snug driving position with the wheel close to the body. Storage in the cabin isn’t bad either, helped by wide cubbies behind both seats. The trunk is wide but short - still usable for small bags and your daily run of groceries.
Other downsides include the loud cabin when the top is up, especially on highways but it is tolerable. However, wind buffeting is more than acceptable with the top down and windows up. The roof also can’t be operated at speeds, only when fully stopped. It takes 20 seconds to get the roof down, and it doesn’t drop smoothly. It sort of clunkers and jerks itself into stowage, making for a cumbersome procedure.
The Nissan 370Z Roadster isn’t shy about its roots, and certainly shows its age in minor cabin faults and designs. However, the 370Z is a sound convertible that provides enough fireworks to please the thrill seeking driver but at a more relaxed pace than its coupe counterpart.
型号 Model: 2018 Nissan 370Z Roadster Sport Touring
顏色 Paint Type: Solid Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $49,698
試車售價 Price as Tested: $55,298
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,550
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,246 / 1,845 / 1,326
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,614
引擎 Engine: 3.7-litre V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 332 hp @ 7,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 13.0 / 9.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front 245/40YR19; Rear 285/35YR19; Dunlop SP Sport MAXX