2010 Nissan 370Z Convertible — Review
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Nissan redesigned the Z Coupe for 2009, upping the power, improving the handling and civilizing a notoriously plastic interior. The convertible version was left to soldier on as-is for one more year, though, leaving prospective buyers longing for the considerable improvements the Coupe received.
Now those improvements are here, and the richer interior, sharper handling, more substantial convertible top and 26 extra horses will leave buyers of the last Z wondering why they didn't wait for the new and improved model.
The Touring trim adds synthetic suede and leather upholstery, heated and cooled 4-way power seats with lumbar adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage-door opener, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a Bose audio system with two subwoofers, a 6-disc CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, a cargo cover and aluminum pedals. Safety equipment on both trims includes dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, door-mounted curtain airbags, active head restraints, a tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction control and electronic stability control.
The options list is short; only packages are available. The Sport Package comes with P255/40R19 front and P275/35R19 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires on RAYS forged aluminum wheels, front and rear spoilers, larger Nissan sport brakes and a limited-slip differential; manual-transmission models also get Nissan's SynchroRev Match feature. The Navigation Package comes with Nissan's MusicBox 9.3-gigabyte hard-drive radio, a navigation system with XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather (when XM is ordered), and a USB port.
Under the Hood
Two transmissions are offered. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual. When the Sport Package is ordered, it comes with Nissan's new SynchroRev Match feature, which blips the throttle on downshifts to match the engine revs to the new gear. Buyers can also opt for a 7-speed automatic with manual shift capability, which also comes with a down-shift rev-matching feature. EPA fuel economy estimates are the same for both transmissions: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway.
The instrument panel tilts with the steering wheel. Enthusiasts will appreciate the setup (tachometer top center, with the speedometer offset to the right) because monitoring engine rpm is more important than watching your speed during performance driving. The instrument panel has a shift light, also to aid performance driving. Another group of gauges, consisting of a voltmeter, an oil temperature gauge and a clock, is located at the top of the center stack.
The radio and climate controls are low on the center stack, but are easy to reach just in front of the shifter. A standard cubby in the middle of the center stack can hold small items, but nothing of size. When the navigation system is ordered, it occupies this position. The nav system includes a 7-inch display and a control panel that will be a bit confusing at first. The radio and climate controls are separate, so drivers should get used to this system quickly. Also note that the navigation system now comes with a USB port instead of a CF card reader; USB connections are much more common in the U.S.
The driver sits low in the cockpit in true sports-car fashion. We found the seats comfortable for long trips and supportive for cornering. Tall drivers, however, may want more headroom. A small shelf behind each seat provides useful space to store items as large as laptop bags.
Space in the rear is very limited. While the top doesn't infringe upon the cargo area, the trunk has only 4.2 cubic feet of room. That's enough for a couple of duffle bags or maybe one bag of golf clubs, but not much else.
On the Road
One turn of the wheel reveals that the steering is exceptionally quick, direct and highly informative. The feel is somewhat heavy, but we like that in a sports car. Turn into a corner and the car reacts immediately, hunkering down and remaining very flat. It changes direction willingly, and the electronic stability control system (which Nissan calls Vehicle Dynamic Control) leaves enough room for aggressive drivers to play before it kicks in.
The Roadster body isn't as stiff as the Coupe, so it does have some body flex over bumps. Cowl shake is kept to a minimum, though, as this is one of the stiffer convertibles on the market. While the ride is certainly firm, it is fairly compliant, even more so than in the Coupe. Sports-car customers will find it plenty user-friendly.
Those looking for a sportier experience should choose the Sport Package, which includes wider 19-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential and Nissan Sport Brakes. These brakes, with 14-inch-diameter rotors upfront and 13.8-inch rotors in the rear, can handle a lot more punishment than the standard brakes, and they will help you stop with more confidence. The limited-slip differential and larger tires will also let you put the power down more efficiently, especially when coming out of a turn.
While Nissan wouldn't quote a zero-to-60 mph time, we estimate that the stronger V6 can launch the Z roadster to 60 mph in no less than 5.5 seconds, and the time might actually be closer to five seconds flat. With the Sport Package, the easy-shifting 6-speed manual transmission adds Nissan's SynchroRev Match feature, which blips the throttle on downshifts. SynchroRev Match is great for the racetrack, where throttle blips provide smoother gear changes that won't upset the car's balance. Also offered is a 7-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles. We found that the automatic is responsive and the shift paddles easy to use.
Right for You?
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.