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2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster First Drive Review Photo:
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Nissan 370Z Roadster - Australian Media Launch Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | Feb, 12 2010 | 0 Comments

THE LOCATION FOR the 370Z Roadster's launch was New Zealand's picturesque South island, home to some of the most dramatic scenery and outstanding driving roads on the planet.

Our route took us from the lakeside village of Queenstown to Wanaka, via a circuitous path that wound its way through valleys, up hills and across plains.

Road surfaces varied wildly in quality, and a pleasing mix of high-speed straights and tight, sinuous mountain roads enabled the breadth of the 370Z Roadster's athletic talents to be tested.

We were deeply impressed with the 370Z Coupe's performance when we sampled it last year, and it was interesting to note that despite the removal of its roof the Roadster is every bit as fun as the Coupe - perhaps even more so.

 

The Drive

Sitting still with the roof raised, the Roadster's cockpit feels very familiar. A low roofline and poor rearward visibility are attributes shared with its hard-topped brother, and the high beltline and short windows give the sensation that you're peering out from a postbox.

The seats are grippy and deeply bolstered, but the fat-rimmed steering wheel still doesn't adjust for reach. The automatic gearshift surround looks cheap, but at least the nicely-finished metal paddle shifters are located at an ideal distance from your fingertips.

Drop the roof (a noisy affair with much whirring and clunking), and the Roadster takes on a new persona. With the fabric hood no longer above you, rearward vision improves immensely (over-the shoulder vision was never the Coupe's forte) and the cabin no longer feels quite so claustrophobic.

It also makes it easier to hear that wonderful VQ37VHR engine. With the roof up, the engine note is muted and drowned out by tyre and wind noise, however with the roof down and at speeds up to 90km/h, the VQ's note is more clearly heard.

Wind noise takes over from 90km/h onward, but hearing the noise of the Roadster's sonorous V6 bouncing off canyon walls is an experience in itself.

The engine sounds beautifully throaty under load, and the throttle blips executed by either auto or manual transmissions more than compensate for the engine note's metallic thrashiness at high-rpm.

With the roof down, wind starts to find its way into the cabin around 70km/h. Conversation can still be carried out at speeds up to 100km/h, but from 120km/h onwards you'll need to shout to be heard.

Tip it into a corner, and the Roadster behaves almost exactly like the Coupe. Overall weight may be up 60kg, but with weight distribution remaining unchanged the Roadster's dynamics are almost equal with those of the tin-top. The larger 19-inch alloys don't seem to have an adverse affect on performance, either.

Although the wheels are larger, their forged construction means the combined wheel-tyre assembly weighs about the same as the old 18-inch wheel package - and there's now a larger contact patch to exploit, too.

There's loads of grip at the driver's disposal, and it makes a big difference. Where the Coupes we tested last year were eager to rotate and somewhat twitchy at the limit, the bigger, staggered-size wheels and wider tyres of the Roadster means the Z is more controllable and able to be hustled through corners faster.

With smaller tyres now on the front wheels it's keener to understeer than before, but getting the tail out is still no hard task thanks to the Z's torquey V6.

You can still feel a little flex in the chassis when going over offset bumps, but for the most part the 370Z Roadster is a very solid convertible. There's little in the way of scuttle shake, and with the roof raised there's no creaking whatsoever.

With the roof up, though, road noise from the big tyres dominates with wind noise quickly taking over around 80km/h. The solution? Drop the roof whenever you can.

Drive

Sitting still with the roof raised, the Roadster's cockpit feels very familiar. A low roofline and poor rearward visibility are attributes shared with its hard-topped brother, and the high beltline and short windows give the sensation that you're peering out from a postbox.

The seats are grippy and deeply bolstered, but the fat-rimmed steering wheel still doesn't adjust for reach. The automatic gearshift surround looks cheap, but at least the nicely-finished metal paddle shifters are located at an ideal distance from your fingertips.

Drop the roof (a noisy affair with much whirring and clunking), and the Roadster takes on a new persona. With the fabric hood no longer above you, rearward vision improves immensely (over-the shoulder vision was never the Coupe's forte) and the cabin no longer feels quite so claustrophobic.

It also makes it easier to hear that wonderful VQ37VHR engine. With the roof up, the engine note is muted and drowned out by tyre and wind noise, however with the roof down and at speeds up to 90km/h, the VQ's note is more clearly heard.

Wind noise takes over from 90km/h onward, but hearing the noise of the Roadster's sonorous V6 bouncing off canyon walls is an experience in itself. The engine sounds beautifully throaty under load, and the throttle blips executed by either auto or manual transmissions more than compensate for the engine note's metallic thrashiness at high-rpm.

With the roof down, wind starts to find its way into the cabin around 70km/h. Conversation can still be carried out at speeds up to 100km/h, but from 120km/h onwards you'll need to shout to be heard.

Tip it into a corner, and the Roadster behaves almost exactly like the Coupe. Overall weight may be up 60kg, but with weight distribution remaining unchanged the Roadster's dynamics are almost equal with those of the tin-top. The larger 19-inch alloys don't seem to have an adverse affect on performance, either. Although the wheels are larger, their forged construction means the combined wheel-tyre assembly weighs about the same as the old 18-inch wheel package - and there's now a larger contact patch to exploit, too.

There's loads of grip at the driver's disposal, and it makes a big difference. Where the Coupes we tested last year were eager to rotate and somewhat twitchy at the limit, the bigger, staggered-size wheels and wider tyres of the Roadster means the Z is more controllable and able to be hustled through corners faster.

With smaller tyres now on the front wheels it's keener to understeer than before, but getting the tail out is still no hard task thanks to the Z's torquey V6.

You can still feel a little flex in the chassis when going over offset bumps, but for the most part the 370Z Roadster is a very solid convertible. There's little in the way of scuttle shake, and with the roof raised there's no creaking whatsoever.

With the roof up, though, road noise from the big tyres dominates with wind noise quickly taking over around 80km/h. The solution? Drop the roof whenever you can.

 
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The size of your tyre is located on the sidewall of your tyre.
It will be similar to the sample below.