2011 NISSAN 370Z ROADSTER REVIEW
From Triple A to Z
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, Sep 23, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Standard & Poors may have downgraded the county’s credit rating, but there’s no downgrading of Nissan’s 370Z. This is certainly true of the coupe, but what about the roadster? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. We test the roadster with the Touring, Sport and Brembo brake packages. Harvey Schwartz reports. Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz We tested the new Nissan 370Z roadster with the Touring and Sport packages and it is, once again for the money, one of the best two-seat sports cars for fun-in-the-sun driving thrills on the market. This new 370Z roadster is equipped for the perfect combination of thrills and personal comfort. It features the Touring and Sport packages, plus the new Gun Metallic paint, Bordeaux color with the wine colored interior, new navigation package, six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match, and the NISMO Performance brake pad option. The standard 370Z roadster plus these new options make the model we tested one of the most exciting and pleasurable to drive two seat roadsters on the market. When it comes to understanding the success of the popular Nissan 370Z roaster, the story is simple: seductive styling, legendary Z performance, the most refinement of any Z convertible ever offered, and one other thing—an exhilarating connection to the air, wind and environment.
The list of cutting-edge technology includes the standard 332horsepower 3.7-liter all-aluminum, DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL), a choice of a seven-speed automatic or close-ratio six-speed manual with optional SynchroRex Match (the world’s first synchronized downshift rev-matching manual transmission), refined four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel vented disc brakes (with optional NISMO Performance brakes and pads, and a lightweight yet rigid body structure. The changes to the Z Roadster for the 2011 model year are limited to the addition of the ReavView monitor to the optional navigation package and one new exterior color--Gun Metallic. Both came in our test Z. The 370Z roadster’s most obvious departure from the coupe (which serves as the foundation platform) is its convertible top. The soft-top roof was designed with an emphasis on three key areas: To provide a sleek silhouette matching the new Z’s stunning styling with the top up or down, to offer easy single-action open-close operation, and to provide an enjoyable top-down driving experience with reduced wind turbulence and all-climate driver/passenger comfort. With the convertible top in the closed position, the design provides a sophisticated sloped-back appearance—the perfect balance between the soft top and the Z body design. The shortened windshield and aerodynamically rounded rear deck enhance the Z’s kinetic and dynamic character lines. When in the ‘down’ position, the convertible top is concealed beneath a full body-color hard tonneau cover which extends forward to help create the Z roadster’s classic double cockpit-style interior.
The standard black cloth convertible top (a Bordeaux color top is available with the wine color interior) features a fabric inner liner, which provides a quality appearance and helps reduce noise intrusion into the cabin, along with a large glass rear window with an integrated electric window defroster. The top operation takes about 20 seconds, and is controlled by a center console-mounted toggle switch. The automatic latch system secures the top to (and releases it from) the windshield header without your intervention. It is so simple and easy. The shape and position of the glass wind deflector, located between the fixed headrest bars, has been optimized to reduce turbulence into the cabin. Like the 370Z coupe, the Z roadster’s exterior is more aggressive in appearance and lighter and tighter in structure than before. The Z roadster features an aluminum hood, door panels and trunk to reduced weight. It includes additional structural reinforcement including the A-pillars and side sills. The Z roadster’s exterior design incorporates the look and feel of the Z coupe, including its signature long nose/short cockpit proportions, vertical door handles and distinctive headlight/taillight treatment, which features the signature boomerang shape. High intensity discharge bi-functional xenon headlights with an auto on/off feature are standard. The Z roadster’s interior is completely driver-centric, with its three-layer design, grouping items by how a driver see information, operates the controls and is held in place. Drivers feel completely connected and engaged whenever and wherever they drive, top up or down.
The Z roadster features high-back black woven ‘carbon’ cloth seats with eight-way manual driver and four-way manual passenger seat adjustments. Touring models include unique leather-appointed seats with four-way power/four-way manual operation on the driver’s seat. Passengers also enjoy four-way power adjustments. These seats are exclusive to the Z roadster and have integrated heating and cooling functions—ideal for open air driving, no matter what the outside temperature is. The seats are deeply contoured to keep you in place during high-speed cornering. Adjustable front seat active head restraints are also standard. The Z roadster’s two-seat layout includes a deeply scooped instrument panel with a full-length center console separating you from you from your passenger seat. The instrument panel retains the traditional Z three-pod cluster with oil temperature, voltmeter, and clock. The speedometer and tachometer now include an ‘initial sweep’ function, coming alive when the car is first started. The sporty steering wheel is a new oval three-spoke design, which offers baseball-style stitching, improved thumb grips and palm rest areas for improved feel on long drives. The surface of the leather-wrapped/tilting wheel is ‘shaved’ to provide a more kidney-like shape to better fit in your hands (we love the new shape). The manual transmission shifter is padded to improve the accuracy of diagonal shifts and to feel softer in the hand for forward and backward motions. It fits perfectly in the palm of your hand.
Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key with push button ignition, power windows with one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto-lock feature and a center console box with a non-intrusive cover design. Other features include automatic climate control, two 12-volt power outlets, three cupholders (two in the door panels, one in the center console), and an AM-FM-CD-AUX 4-speaker audio system with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls. The Touring model adds a six CD Bose audio system with eight speakers, including dual subwoofers and MP3/WMA playback, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, Homelink universal transceiver and aluminum-trimmed foot pedals (I recommend with driver’s shoes for the ultimate in quick usage since driver’s shoes have more friction material in their soles). The optional Navigation package includes the touch-screen Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with XM NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Information and NavWeather, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive for digital music storage and playback and USB connectivity that is iPod compatible. The system offers a number of enhancements since the last one, including 4X higher screen resolution, Bluetooth streaming audio, an on-board Zagat Survey restaurant ratings database, an in-dash DVD player and XM NavWeather information display. The 370Z roadster features one of the most advanced drivetrains available for affordable sports cars today. The long list of cutting edge performance-focused technologies begins with the standard 3.7-liter DOHC VVEL V6 engine that generates 332 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm, a choice of seven-speed automatic transmission or a close-ratio six-speed manual with the optional SynchromRev Match, a refined four-wheel, race-bred independent suspension and four-wheel vented disc brakes.
The six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match in the Sport package and it’s awesome—allowing us to perform like professionals when downshifting into and then upshifting out of a curve. The SynchroRev Match function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially blipping the throttle to smooth out up/down shifts. This not only allows one to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical shock when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own. The optional seven-speed automatic includes Downshift Rev Matching (DRM) and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and is designed to offer quick, manual-like shifting when operated in manual mode. Drivers can use the standard paddle shifters or the shift lever. The 7-speed’s wide gear ratios offers improved fuel efficiency (versus a 5-speed automatic), while the Adaptive Shift Control is designed to adjust to your driving style. The viscous limited slip differential put the power down on the pavement as we rocket out to 60 mph from 0 in just 4.8 seconds. The Z roadster also utilizes the Z coupe’s advanced, race-bred four-wheel independent suspension. The double-wishbone front suspension uses lightweight forced aluminum arms, a lightweight aluminum-alloy cradle, and a hollow stabilizer bar. The four-link rear suspension integrates the rear steel cradle into a single, integral system. Twin-tube gas-charged shock absorbers and high-rate coil springs are utilized on each corner for enhanced ride comfort. Also, utilizing a three-piece strut tower brace in the engine bay gives the Z roadster sharp handling response with virtually no cowl shake when traveling over poorly paved roads with the top down. Also enhancing your handling prowess is the standard vehicle-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system. Unwanted steering kickback and vibrations are reduced with the addition of a solenoid valve that acts like a damper when there is harsh impact load. A vehicle dynamic control system is standard and keeps you out of trouble when you take the Z roadster to its adhesion limits when cornering.
Our Z roadster rode on 19-inch RAYS forged lightweight aluminum alloy wheels, 19X9 up front and 19X10 inch in the rear. These custom wheels are wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza REO50Z 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19 inch high-performance tires in the rear for both enhanced grip and a compliant ride. Slowing the test Z roadster down from speed are Nissan Sport Brakes with large diameter 14-inch vented front rotors clamped and four-piston calipers featuring NISMO brake pads and 13.8-inch vented rear rotors clamped with dual-piston calipers and NISMO pads. The new 2011 Z roadster is a real thrill machine that will quicken your heartbeat as you put it through its paces—and maybe just when you gaze upon its unique, aggressive styling or you sit behind the wheel of its race-bred yet comfortable cockpit. It remains one of the world’s great two-seat sport cars—and with the roadster, you also get all the thrills associated with open cockpit driving. © Words supra and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT A Triple-A rating for the 370Z—A sports car you can bank on. For more information on Nissan products, go to nissanusa.com To see more of Harvey Schwartz’s photographs, go to autofotos.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2011 Nissan 370Z Touring Sport Roadster Price: Base: $41,070.00/$47,485.00 as tested including destination charges EPA mileage: 18mpg/city, 25mpg/highway (with six-speed manual)
Engine: 3.7 liter DOHC V6 with Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL) Horsepower: 332 at 7,000 rpm Torque: 270 pound-feet at 5,200 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Transmission: Six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match Front suspension: Independent, double wishbone, die cast aluminum subframe, twin-tube shocks, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, multi-link, steel subframe, twin-tube shocks, stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: Ray’s lightweight, forged aluminum wheels-19X8 front/19X9 inch rear 245/40R19 front/275.35R19 inch rear Bridgestone Potenza tires Brakes Front: 14-inch vented with four-piston calipers Rear: 13.8-inch vented with dual-piston calipers Nissan Sport Brakes with NISMO Performance Brake Pads/ABS/EBD/BA/VDC/TC Dimensions Total length: 167.2 inches Total width: 72.8 inches Total height: 52.2 inches (with top up) Curb weight: 3,497 pounds