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 |   |   |  2010 Nissan 370Z Convertible & 370Z Nismo Edition - The Z-car Lineup is Now Complete
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2010 Nissan 370Z Convertible & 370Z Nismo Edition - The Z-car Lineup is Now Complete

First Drive

Jan 7, 2010


3.7 liter, DOHC V-6 engine
332 at 7200 rpm
270 ft-lbs at 5200 rpm
Rev-matching 6-speed manual
$29,930 (base)


3.7-liter, DOHC V-6 engine
350 at 7400 rpm
276 ft-lbs at 5200 rpm
Rev-matching 6-speed manual
$39,190 (base)

At first glance it becomes clear that Nissan engineers designed the 370Z convertible in conjunction with the hardtop, rather than it being an afterthought like the 350Z (with its oddly shaped roof line and humped rear). The drop-top 370Z not only looks great with the roof down, but it’s also extremely natural looking with it up.

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Looks aside, though, the Z roadster surprised me the most with its coupe-like handling and stiffness. Never have I driven a convertible that didn’t feel like a convertible, meaning it creaked and rattled, flexed and bent—the Z didn’t exhibit any of that. It was solid and tight. A quick jaunt through some canyon roads further proved that fact, while also fortifying the standing of the 3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6 as arguably the best V-6 on the market today. It provides a stout 332 hp and 270 ft-lbs of torque, and the power delivery is superb and linear all the way up to its 7500-rpm redline. The engine is extremely well matched to the chassis, providing ample power with little disappointment.

The 6-speed transmission has a nice, solid, mechanical feel to it that’s right in line with the character of the car. Although, if you try to be a gunslinger and draw for a gear too quickly, it will bite you. This transmission needs to be treated nicely. You can also pretend to be quite the hot shoe behind the wheel because the engine will automatically rev-match when you downshift between gears. Despite seeming a bit gimmicky, this nifty feature works exceptionally well and can heighten anyone’s driving experience.

A 7-speed automatic is also available and it provides crisp rev-matching shifts with little lag in between. Surprisingly, the slushbox doesn’t take much of the fun out of driving the car hard, and dare I say if you’ll be using the roadster for more street duty than track (most of you will), then the auto would be my choice.

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Jumping into the cockpit, the large center-mounted tach to the now token dash-mounted gauge pods provide the driver with ample information. The well bolstered seats offer a heating and cooling feature, so if the top is dropped and you’re feeling a bit warm then the seats do a fantastic job of cooling you down.

The convertible 370Z impressed me so much that I would almost prefer it over the coupe version, especially in a year-round warm climate. With the right mods and some minimal tuning to the suspension, it could actually double as a light-duty track car. But if you’re more serious about going fast around a track, then you’ll definitely want to read on.

Too often OEMs will add a special badge to a car and call it tuned or track ready, when in reality it’s a simple marketing ploy with some new body panels, bigger wheels and a large spoiler—hardly anything that improves performance. The Nismo 370Z has broken that stereotype and provides a large improvement in all areas of performance over the standard 370Z. It’s so well done that I think it’s arguably the best Z ever produced.

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However, that comes at a cost of nearly $40,000. Is it worth it? For the enthusiast, you bet. Thanks to a recalibrated ECU and H-pipe configured exhaust, an additional 18 hp (350 hp in total) is extracted over the standard VQ37VHR. While it might not sound like a lot, the sensation says otherwise. The Z screams to redline with utter urgency—I just wish you could hear it roar. The Nismo exhaust, although enhanced for power, wasn’t enhanced with a proper exhaust note, which it desperately needs.

Thankfully, you’ll be more occupied with the road ahead than the noise from out back, thanks to razor-sharp handling that’s accomplished by all-new suspension components. Stiffer sway bars—15 percent up front, 50 percent in the rear and increased damping in the shocks, as well as stiffer spring rates, all work in unison to increase overall roll stiffness by 15 percent. The numbers may not mean much to you, but once you drive the Nismo Z its immediate feedback, precise turn-in and neutral feeling speak louder than any statistics can. At speed, it’s an incredibly composed and well sorted car. Push harder, and unlike other vehicles, it obeys and responds favorably. But don’t expect a comfy ride—all this handling prowess comes at a cost; let’s just say your kidneys won’t be happy.

Modp_1002_03_o+2010_nissan_370z_convertible_and_nismo_edition+nismo_370z_engine_bay Photo 5/5   |   With a recalibrated ECU and a better-flowing exhaust, the Nismo version of the VQ37VHR puts out an additional 18 hp over its stock counterpart.

We mustn’t overlook the menacing exterior, which has received an unmistakable aero kit that happens to look as good as it works, reducing aerodynamic drag and creating an additional 150 lbs of downforce at 75 mph over the conventional Z. Add 19-inch forged RAYS wheels shod with some meaty Advan Sport tires and the entire package intimidates as much as it pleases. Looks aren’t what really make the Nismo 370Z a grand slam hit. It’s how hardcore the vehicle really is, a true sports car in every sense. The masses may hate it, but for us enthusiasts, we wish every car was built this way—just begging to be driven harder and harder.



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