"The beefy Nissan 370Z Roadster offers all the fun of the coupe but adds the thrill of the wind in your hair. It's noisy with the roof up though."
Adding a retractable canvas top boosts the appeal of the powerful, Nissan 370Z sports car. Power comes from a 322bhp 3.7-litre V6, and the 370Z sprints from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds – so performance comfortably matches its extrovert looks. On winding roads the open cabin allows you to enjoy the V6 engine's exhaust note even more. Nissan's engineers have worked hard to ensure the body retains its rigidity on bumpy roads, and that means it feels just as responsive to drive as the coupe.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Anything with a 3.7-litre V6 engine is going to be expensive to run, and the 370Z Roadster's official fuel consumption figure of 25.2mpg underlines that. Insurance won’t be cheap either, while servicing every 9,000 miles could see big bills rack up over time. To make matters worse, the 370Z is not offered with a fixed-price servicing deal from Nissan.
Interior & comfort
Wind in the hair thrills are what the 370Z is all about. Yet even with the fabric roof up, there's more wind, road and engine noise inside than you'd find in the coupe, which can be tiresome on longer journeys. And with the roof down it gets quite draughty. The seats are easily adjusted thanks to four-way electric controls, but the steering column adjusts for height only. The suspension is firm, too, and on rough roads the car can feel uncomfortable. It's not all bad news, though, as the optional Synchro Rev Match system fitted to the manual gearbox automatically blips the throttle on downshifts to smooth progress and emit a lovely grumble from the exhausts.
Practicality & boot space
Roadsters are usually even less practical than the coupes they are based on, but the 370 Roadster doesn’t suffer much of a penalty over the coupe version. That said, the boot isn’t huge or the most useful shape, and it's difficult to access – requiring you to lift luggage up and over a lot of bodywork before dropping into the shallow boot. Only two seats and a lack of storage inside make it pretty impractical, too. However, convertible buyers are unlikely to mind and the 370Z Roadster isn’t any worse than its rivals. The touch-screen sat-nav works well, but roof down in the sun it's almost impossible to read and the screen is soon covered in fingerprints from greasy hands.
Reliability & safety
The 370Z's interior is well made, but it lacks the depth of quality of the Audi TT Roadster or BMW Z4 convertible. Electronic stability control, front, side and curtain airbags and anti-whiplash seats are also all standard equipment. Nissan's reliability record is good, and there have been no reported recall notices from VOSA.
Engines, drive & performance
This Nissan 370Z works particularly well with the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. This offers steering wheel-mounted shift levers, and removes the heavy clutch and gearshift of the six-speed manual. The engine makes a fantastic sound at low to medium revs, but it gets a bit unruly at higher speeds. The steering is accurate the brakes are strong, and there's plenty of grip on offer for those who like to tackle corners at speed. That said, it doesn't have any of the refinement found in an Audi TT, and is no where near as comfortable over long distances.
Price, value for money & options
On a performance-to-cost ratio, there's little to touch the 370Z. Nissan's generous standard specification makes its German rivals look particularly expensive, but it does lose out to them in term of interior finish and quality. That said, the 370Z gets automatic climate control, a Bluetooth telephone connection, Xenon headlamps, plus keyless start and four-way powered seats as standard, while the GT Pack adds heated leather seats, larger 19-inch alloy wheels, Nissan's clever rev-match technology, a Bose stereo system and cruise control with a speed limiter.