When we reviewed the new Nissan 370Z Coupe last year, we applauded the company for doing a sports car model update right. Rather than bloating out the car, Nissan reduced size and weight, at the same time putting in a bigger engine. But there was no equivalent convertible model. Nissan remedies that lack for the 2010 model year with the all new 370Z Roadster, and we got to drive it.
On a sunny California morning, we followed a route that let us slam the 370Z Roadster through turn after turn. The top was open to provide a nice view of the forest canopy overhead, the scent of redwood trees was in the air, yet our attention was all on the road and the car. Holding the engine speed at around 5,000rpm in third gear, lighting up the brakes on each approach to a turn, maybe a downshift to second if the turn looked particularly tight, the 370Z Roadster acted just like the hard-top model on which it is based. A bit of understeer became apparent, but that was easily tamed with more throttle, the rear-wheel drive helping the nose correct toward the line for which we aimed.
Like the 370Z Coupe, the Roadster's six-speed manual transmission comes with the SynchroRev Match feature. Nissan hasn't yet brought the dual-clutch technology from its GT-R down to other models, but SynchroRev Match is a nice little high-tech helper, automatically blipping the engine speed during shifts to make a smooth change. That feature, along with the gear indicator on the instrument panel, makes the 370Z line seem like a training sports car, but we'll take all the help we can get when we're piloting 3,500 pounds of metal, plastic, and rubber at speed down a mountain course. … Read more