When the previous-generation Nissan Z was delivered to me for the first time, the gentleman who handed me the keys was wearing a half-cup of coffee. As I soon discovered, the sport suspension package was stiffer than the Ingalls’ Conestoga on Little House on the Prairie. By the next morning, I was also sporting a mocha latte. I hoped the latest 370Z Roadster would be kinder on clothing.
For starters, it’s much more of a looker. Smooth, sexy curves begin at the nose, rise through razor headlamps, kick up over the menacing alloy wheels, and finish off in a pleasantly round rump. It traded industrial chic for a design that has more visual candy and better ties it to the original 1970 Datsun 240Z. Optional (and very attractive) Metallic Black Cherry paint transitions from java to plum in sunlight.
The interior is more contemporary Infiniti than disco-era Z. I could do without the netted material on the seats, but the leather bolstering along with heated and cooled cushions are great – perfect for split-season driving. Suede and stitched coverings soften the doors, console buttresses, dash, and doors. Some may not like the big round tachometer front and center, but it reminds me of a Porsche.
So does the chunky leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. Automatic climate control, in-dash navigation, USB, Bluetooth, and push button starting add today’s expected technical hardware. My partner enjoyed rocking out to Cindy Lauper on the Bose audio system.
Nissan’s 332hp 3.7-litre V6 loves to be revved. You can get a 7-spd automatic transmission, but skip that and go straight for the 6-speed manual. It has crisp, tight motions and comes with SynchroRev Match™, which automatically blips the throttle for smoother downshifting. An S button quickens pedal response, but requires an intelligent foot for smooth shifts. It also takes a bite out of 18/25 mpg city/hwy fuel economy. The car’s aluminum chassis provides a good balance of ride comfort and corner carving fun, though you’ll never be in any doubt that this is first and foremost a sports car.
Yet you could drive the 370Z all day long, and still be refreshed enough to put the top down and go for a long moon-lite cruise. Flip one button in the console to spring the top into action and quickly store itself under a flush tonneau behind the seats. We had the standard black top, though oenologists will appreciate the Bordeaux top with wine-colored interior.
Okay, so the car’s tiny trunk is a joke – don’t even think of taking along more than a carry-on and computer bag. The 370Z has plenty of power, though not enough to scare any V8-powered Camaros, Mustangs, and Chargers. Your mother will never warm up to the stiff suspension, but this isn’t your mother’s sports car. The latest 370Z is smoother, easier to drive, and nicer to the touch. It might not be my favorite sports car, but it’s definitely my favorite Nissan Z. And at least there will be no more crying over spilt café.
Nissan 370Z Roadster
Two-passenger, RWD convertible
Powertrain: 332-HP 3.7-litre V6, 6-speed, manual transmission
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels: 19”/19” f/r
Brakes: 4-wheel disc/ABS
Must-have feature: Smooth operator
Fuel economy: 18/25 mpg city/hwy
As tested price: $47,370