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Nissan 370Z Roadster 7-speed Auto GT Pack+SatNav

Click to view picture gallery“Fifty per cent of Nissans UK sales
  might be taken up by do-it-all family
crossover models, but Nissan also
  make some pretty good sports cars.
  This Spring, convertible lovers
  can enjoy going topless with the
  new 370Z Roadster...”

PREMIUM SPORTS CARS are among the first models to accelerate out of sales recessions, so the arrival of the latest Nissan 370Z Roadster could not have come at a better time.

The latest incarnation of the legendary Z-series, which can trace back their history over 40 years, brings welcome open-topped desirability to the brand. Nissan say the UK is the best market for the car and expect to sell about 400 Z Roadsters this year compared to 600 Coupes.

The new 370Z shares the latest low emission tweaks to its 323bhp 3.7-litre V6 engine as fitted to the Coupe variant, but that's about where the similarity ends because the Roadster was designed from the ground-up as an open-topped car. It has a different body/chassis to provide additional stiffness with reduced flexing without compromising safety, and the powered fabric hood sits under a solid cover ahead of the usual boot.

The single-touch hood folds away (or into place) in about 20 seconds and its position under the rear deck means it does not eat into the boot space or create a blind spot in the mirror.

And it's a very snug fitting hood too; in place, there's no wind noise and, helped by the rear baffle panel, low seating position and deep windows, the open style does not suffer from much wind turbulence around the cabin area.

All Z models are available with Connect Premium entertainment and SatNav system (as in the GT-R) but the model options have been slightly rationalised to reflect customer taste. Adding about 1,900 to the tin-top's prices, the 370Z Roadster line-up mirrors the Coupe's base, GT Pack and GT Pack+SatNav; transmission choices are between a six-speed manual or the new seven-speed paddle-shift automatic.

First impressions of the latest Nissan 370Z Roadster evoke memories of the 350Z Roadster and, hood up or down, it's is a very stylish sports car. The powered top is extremely simple to operate: dropping the windows, lifting the rigid tonneau cover and then folding it all away ready to drive off is done without any human intervention apart from initially pressing the appropriate button.

Given it's paper performance figures — max speed of 155mph and 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds — I did not find it as quick as I was expecting for a sports car; there's an uncharacteristically long initial delay in acceleration pick-up. However, once underway the action was uninterrupted, smooth and quiet.

The 370Z Roadster
responds well
to steering, throttle
and brakes — the
handling never gave a
moment’s concern
On the move, even with the side windows down, wind buffeting was very low. Thankfully the heater pumps out an abundance of hot air and on summery days the air-conditioned seats will be a real boon. Drivers will also appreciate the good all round visibility and the 370Z can be precisely placed on the road or in a parking spot.

Through the gears it is brisk, the steering is direct and brakes very powerful but I found the suspension too firm and sometimes very bumpy on secondary roads now liberally sprinkled with potholes although on a good dual carriageway it was very smooth.

That said, there's no noticeable twisting or vibration from the open bodywork and the 370Z Roadster responds well to steering, throttle and brakes — the handling never gave a moment's concern. For the first time the Roadster comes with an advanced seven-speed automatic transmission and it's a particularly good set-up with excellent ratios and smoothness.

Inside a sports car it's always a challenge to find meaningful storage space but the Roadster's designers have done a pretty good job at creating bins, trays and lidded compartments and the boot holds up to 140 litres — not a lot but enough for a decent sized sports bag or small golfing bag.

The 370Z's new ICE system is borrowed from the GT-R and comes equipped with a 40GB hard drive and advanced Satellite Navigation. The dashboard-mounted screen has a resolution now four times higher, while the new unit features a touchscreen display, DVD functionality, iPod USB connectivity and coverage of more European countries than ever. The system also offers 10GB storage for music files which can be imported direct from your CD collection. All in all, a highly refined ICE system which matches the sophistication of the powertrain and it all comes at a price which is ultra-competitive when compared to German rivals.

Good points include the smooth powertrain, crisp exhaust note, great grip and stylish looks. Not so good is the slow operating hood, lumpy ride on secondary roads and the small boot. However, not to be overlooked is that the 370Z is rarer than most drop-top competitors which for many owners will only add to its desirability. — Robin Roberts

Nissan 370Z Roadster
7-speed Auto GT Pack+SatNav | 36,150
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 24.2mpg
Power: 323bhp | Torque: 270lb ft | CO2 254g/km