Few skills contribute more to old-school performance driving than the heel-toe.
The time-honored pedal dance affords practiced hands (or feet, in this case) the ability to indulge, drama-free, in the ebb and flow of man, machine and the open road. Just as the auto pioneers intended.
Many cars can deliver this experience. But not every driver could take full advantage – until now.
The ’10370Z Roadster, like the coupe that launched a year ago, brings heel-toe to the masses with SynchroRev Match, a sensor-based system that blips the car’s throttle automatically. It is the most compelling feature of this stylish 2-seater that takes a back seat to no other car in its segment. Including its notable predecessor, the 350Z.
The redesigned 370Z Roadster is everything a next-gen car should be: trimmer, roomier, lighter and more powerful, to the extent that it challenges a journalist’s integrity.
Did we mention the fuel gauge is hard to read in direct sunlight? (No fawning here.)
But the car’s enhancements are undeniable.
relaxed the rear slope of the car’s soft top so it blends more gracefully into the decklid. As a result, the 370Z no longer suffers from the unsightly condition that still plagues its formidable competitor, the TT Roadster.
The Audi’s bubble-like ragtop puffs like a pimple from its otherwise flawless skin. But we digress.
The 370Z is 1.3 ins. (3.3 cm) wider than the 350Z, and its wheelbase is 3.9 ins. (9.9 cm) shorter.
Remolded haunches convey both sleekness and muscularity, accentuating a rear track widened by 2.2 ins. (5.6 cm). Combined with a profile lowered by 0.3 ins. (0.8 cm), the car’s new shape generates a drag coefficient of 0.33, 0.01 less than its predecessor.
Superior stiffness allows the driver to get the most from the 370Z’s improved aerodynamics. Sweeping turns at highway speed leave the car table-top flat and sharper inputs barely register.
Again – no drama. The way it’s supposed to be.
Nissan acknowledges the usual coupe-to-roadster augmentations such as a beefed-up A-pillar and sills. They mitigate front body lateral bending and front body torsion by 10% and 40%, respectively.
Rear body torsion and rear body lateral bending benefit, respectively, by 45% and 60%, thanks to a torsion wall aft of the cabin and a reinforced ring structure that frames the trunk aperture.
|Vehicle type||Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive roadster.|
|Engine||3.7L DOHC all-aluminum V-6|
|Power (SAE net)||332 hp @ 7,000 rpm|
|Torque||270 lb.-ft (366 Nm) @ 5,200 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed manual with SynchroRev Match|
|Wheelbase||100.4 ins. (255 cm)|
|Overall length||167.2 ins. (425 cm)|
|Overall width||72.8 ins. (185 cm)|
|Overall height||52.2 ins. (133 cm)|
|Curb weight||3,497 lbs. (1,586 kg)|
|Base price||$36,970 - $42,540|
|Fuel economy||18/25 city/hwy (13-9.4 L/100 km)|
|Competition||Audi TT, Porsche Boxster,Z4|
|Smooth shifting||Fuel gauge|
|Inspired interior||Fuel gauge|
Unlike the previous model, the new Roadster’s cargo hold adequately accommodates a set of golf clubs. But no matter, because driving the 370Z is more engaging than driving a Titleist.
Credit finely tuned steering that delivers feedback and forgiveness in doses that inspires confidence and bestows comfort. The car’s leather-bound tiller affords a light touch that belies its road-eating potential.
The 370Z’s 4-wheel independent suspension also informs its connectedness to the road. A double-wishbone setup replaces the lower multi-link design in the 350Z, while the 4-link rear is stiffer, lighter and fully integrated with the rear cradle.
With each corner shouldered by a twin-tube, ripple-control shock absorber, the 370Z’s Potenza-trimmed optional 19-in. forged-alloy wheels demonstrate stickiness just short of a TT with Quattro.
Well-cushioned, properly bolstered, ventilated buckets only intensify the satisfaction. Snug without smothering, they offer front-row seats on one of the most harmonious interior designs in the industry.
The shapes and brushed-metal finish of bezels surrounding the shifter and instrument cluster invoke appealing industrial motif. While not new (it helped the ’09 370Z Coupe win a Ward’s Interior of the Year prize) the features continue to resonate – marred only by that pesky gas gauge.
Run the Roadster with its top down and sunshine obliterates the fuel monitor’s LED readout. However, the risk of running out of gas never should outweigh the experience of open-sky motoring in the 370Z.
The roof folds with precision and reveals attention to a critical detail – buffeting. A golf hat remains firmly on a passenger’s head, while conversation comes without compromise for wind noise.
But for its overall refinement, the Roadster would be a handful with its 332-hp 3.7L VQ V-6. Intoxicating is the best way to describe the lightning-quick throttle response that taps a torque curve peaking at 270 lb.-ft. (366 Nm).
(It could be our excuse for getting just 16.9 mpg [13.9 L/100 km] from a car with a combined city-highway rating of 21.5 mpg [10.9 L/100 km]. But we blame the fuel gauge.)
Which brings us back to SynchroRev Match. Optional on 370Zs equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, it senses throttle position and automatically manages the car’s engine speed while upshifting or downshifting. The result: smooth transitions complete with the reassuring revs that would otherwise occur with a heel-blip of the accelerator.
Purists can deactivate the system by push-button. But the consistency of “S-Mode,” as Nissan calls it, is addictive.
And for those who prefer the shoe on the other foot, the 370Z can be had with a 7-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters featuring Downshift Rev Matching.
Don’t judge, old-schoolers. You could manually change channels on your TV, too. But we’re guessing you use the remote.