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‘PURE SPORTS CAR THRILLS’
I recently tested the new 2011 Nissan 370Z roadster with the Touring and Sport packages and it is once again one of the best two-seat sports cars for fun-in-the-sun driving thrills on the market. The new 2011 370Z roadster was equipped for the perfect combination of thrills and personal comfort. It featured the Touring and Sport packages, plus the new Gun Metallic paint, Bordeaux color with the wine colored interior, new navigation package, six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match, and the NISMO Performance brake pad option. The standard 370Z roadster plus these new options make the model I tested one of the worlds most exciting and pleasurable to drive two seat roadster’s on the market.
When it comes to understanding the success of the popular Nissan 370Z roaster, the story is simple: seductive styling, legendary Z performance, the most refinement of any Z convertible ever offered and one other thing-an exhilarating connection to the air, wind and environment.
The list of cutting edge technology includes the standard 332hp 3.7 liter all-aluminum, DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL), a choice of a seven-speed automatic or close-ration six-speed manual with optional SynchroRex Match (the world’s first synchronized downshift rev matching manual transmission), refined 4-wheel independent suspension, 4-wheel vented disc brakes (with optional NISMO Performance brakes and pads, and a lightweight yet rigid body structure. The changes to the Z Roadster for the 2011 model year are limited to the addition of the ReavView monitor to the optional navigation package and one new exterior color, Gun Metallic, that both came in my test Z.
The 370Z roadster’s most obvious departure from the 370Z coupe, which serves as the foundation platform, is its convertible top. The soft-top roof was designed with an emphasis on three key areas: to provide a sleek silhouette matching the new Z’s stunning styling with the top up or down, to offer easy single-action open-close operation, and provide an enjoyable top-down driving experience with reduced wind turbulence and all-climate driver/passenger comfort. With the convertible top in the closed position, the design provides a sophisticated sloped-back appearance, the perfect balance between the soft top and the Z body design.
The shorted windshield and aerodynamically round rear deck enhance the Z’s kinetic and dynamic character lines. When in the down position, the convertible top is concealed beneath a full body-color hard tonneau cover, which extends forward to help create the Z roadster’s classic ‘double cockpit’ style interior.
The standard black ( a Bordeaux color top is optional, I had it, with the wine color interior), cloth convertible top features a fabric inner liner, which provides a quality appearance and helps reduce noise intrusion into the cabin, along with a large glass rear window with an integrated electric window defroster. The top operation takes about 20 seconds and is controlled by a center console-mounted toggle switch. The automatic latch system secures the top to-or releases it from-the windshield header without your intervention, it is so simple and easy. The shape and position of the glass wind deflector, located between the fixed headrest bars, has been optimized to reduce turbulence into the cabin.
Like the 370Z coupe, the Z roadster’s exterior is more aggressive in appearance and lighter and tighter in structure than before. The Z roadster features an aluminum hood, door panels and trunk to reduced weight. It includes additional structural reinforcement including the A-pillars and side sills.
The Z roadster’s exterior design incorporates the look and feel of the Z coupe, including its signature long nose/short cockpit proportions, vertical door handles and distinctive headlight/taillight treatment, which features a fierce ‘boomerang’ shape. High intensity discharge bi-functional xenon headlights with auto an on/off feature are standard.
Inside the stunning exterior, true to its sports car heritage, the Z roadster’s interior is completely driver-centric, with its three-layer design grouping items by how a driver see information, operates the controls and is held in place-so drivers feel completely connected and engaged whenever and wherever they drive, top up or down.
The Z roadster features high back black woven ‘carbon’ cloth seats with 8-way manual driver’s/4-way manual passenger’s seat adjustments. Touring models include unique leather-appointed seats with 4-way power/4-way manual operation on the driver’s seat (4-way power on the passenger’s seat). These seats are exclusive to the Z roadster and have integrated heating and cooling functions-ideal for open air driving no matter what the outside temperature is. They are deeply contoured to keep you in place during high-speed cornering. Adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints are also standard.
The Z roader’s 2-seat layout includes a deeply scooped instrument panel with a full-length center console separating you from you from your passenger seat. The instrument panel retains the traditional Z 3-pod cluster with oil temperature, voltmeter, and clock, while the speedometer and tachometer now include an ‘initial sweep’ function, coming alive when the car is first started.
The sporty steering wheel is a new ‘oval’ 3-spoke design, which offers baseball-style stitching, improved thumb grips and palm rest areas for improved feel on long drives. The surface of the leather-wrapped/tilting wheel is ‘shaved’ to provide a more kidney-like shape to better fit in your hands. I love the new shape. The manual transmission shifter is specially padded to improve the accuracy of diagonal shifts and to feel softer in the hand for forward and backward motions. It fits perfectly in the palm of your hand.
Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key with push button ignition, power windows with one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto-lock feature and a center console box with a non-intrusive cover design. Other features include automatic climate control, two-12-volt power outlets, three cupholders (two in the door panels, one in the center console), and an AM-FM-CD-AUX 4-speaker audio system with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls. The Touring model adds a 6CD Bose audio system with eight speakers, including dual subwoofers and MP3/WMA playback, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, Homelink universal transceiver and aluminum-trimmed foot pedals, (I recommend with driver’s shoes for the ultimate in quick usage since driver’s shoes have more friction material in their soles).
The optional Navigation package includes the touch-screen Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with XM NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Information and NavWeather, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive for digital music storage and playback and USB connectivity that is iPod compatible. The navigation system offers a number of enhancements since the last one including four times higher screen resolution, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, on-board Zagat Survey restaurant ratings database, an in-dash DVD player and XM NavWeather information display.
Again in 2011, the 370Z roadster features one of the most advanced drivetrains available for affordable sports cars today. The long list of cutting edge performance-focused technologies begins with the standard 3.7 liter DOHC VVEL V6 engine that generates 332hp at 7,000rpm and 270lb.ft. of torque at 5,200rpm, a choice of 7-speed automatic transmission or a close-ratio 6-speed manual with optional ‘SynchromRev Match’, a refined 4-wheel, race-bred independent suspension and 4-wheel vented disc brakes.
I had the 6-speed manual with SynchroRev Match in the Sport package and it was awesome allowing me to make professional-like gear shift performance when downshifting into then upshifting out of a curve. The SynchroRev Match function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially ‘blipping’ the throttle to smooth out up/down shifts. This not only allows me to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical ‘shock’ when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own.
The optional 7-speed automatic includes Downshift Rev Matching (DRM) and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and is designed to offer quick, manual-like shifting when operated in manual mode. Drivers can use the standard paddle shifters or the shift lever.
The 7-speed’s wide gear ratios offer improved fuel efficiency (versus a 5-speed automatic), while the Adaptive Shift Control is designed to adjust to your driving style.
The viscous limited slip differential put the power down on the pavement as I rocketed out to 60mph from 0 in just 4.8 seconds.
The Z roadster also utilizes the Z coupe’s advanced, race-bred 4-wheel independent suspension. The double-wishbone front suspension uses lightweight forced aluminum arms, a lightweight aluminum-alloy cradle, and a hollow stabilizer bar. The 4-link rear suspension integrates the rear steel cradle into a single part. ‘High response’ twin-tube gas-charged shock absorbers and high-rate coil springs are utilized on each corner for enhanced ride comfort. Also utilizing a 3-piece strut tower brace in the engine bay gives the Z roadster incredible, razor sharp handling response with no cowl shake when traveling over poorly paved roads with the top down. Also enhancing your handling prowess is the standard vehicle-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system. Unwanted steering kickback and vibrations are reduced with the addition of a solenoid valve that acts like a damper when there is harsh impact load. A vehicle dynamic control system is standard and keeps you out of trouble when you take the Z roadster to its adhesion limits when cornering.
My Z roadster Touring/Sport package rode on 19 inch RAYS forged lightweight aluminum alloy wheels, 19X9 up front and 19X10 inch in the rear. These custom wheels are wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza REO50Z 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19 inch high-performance tires in the rear for incredible grip and a very compliant ride.
Slowing my test Z roadster down from speed were Nissan Sport Brakes with large diameter 14 inch vented front rotors clamped with four-piston calipers featuring NISMO brake pads and 13.8 inch vented rear rotors clamped with dual-piston calipers with NISMO brake pads. Your braking control and power are enhanced with standard ABS, EBD and BA.
The Nissan 370Z roadster’s list of standard safety features includes the Nissan Advanced Airbag System with dual-stage front airbags, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, door-mounted curtain airbags, seatbelts with pretensioners/load limiters, active head restraints, Zone Body Construction with front/rear crumple zones, Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer system, vehicle security system and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Standard features not mentioned above includes cruise control, auto-dimming reaview mirror, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, dual map lights, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, synthetic suede knee pads on center console for spirited driving, kick plate with Z emblem, synthetic suede door panel inserts, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats.
The new 2011 Z roadster is a real thrill machine that will quicken your heartbeat when you put it through its paces; when you gaze upon its unique, aggressive styling; and when you sit behind the wheel of its race-bred yet comfortable cockpit. It remains one of the world’s great two-seat sport cars and with the roadster you also get the thrill of the sun on your face and the wind rushing through you face.
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