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Nissan 370Z Roadster: Where muscle meets sunshine

POSTED BY admin ON 02 March 2012

With its thunderous 3.7-litre engine, meaty controls, and cloaked in a body that just oozes muscle and evil intent, Nissan’s 370Z Coupe was Japan’s muscle car, if there ever was one.

Yet with its steering, chassis, and driver oriented cabin, the 370Z was ever bit a proper sports car.

We liked it so much that we named it our premium performance Car of the Year in 2009.

So what do we make of its Roadster version, which comes with a RM29,900 higher price tag, 55kg worth of added weight, and gasp, a seven-speed automatic transmission?

For one we can tell you that the Roadster looks more dramatic that the coupe, as the 370Z’s rump looks positively massive thanks to the absence of the coupe’s sloping roofline.

But the transition from tin-top to topless for a two-seater car is a fairly simple affair as the topless version will end up looking better most of the time.

Keeping the handling characteristics, on the other hand, now that is a whole different affair.

Having the roof removed and replaced with a folding fabric top means that the Roadster has put on 55kg of added weight.

That said the 55kg weight gain is but a mere drop in the ocean considering that the Coupe already tips the scales at 1,510kg.

As such there is really not much difference in the car’s handling as the Roadster still retains the 370Z’s sharp and precise steering, communicable chassis, and balance.

Even the scuttle shake was barely noticeable; it was so subtle in fact that we often mistook it for the road surface being a little rough.

We did feel that the ride on the Roadster was slightly better than the Coupe, but that was probably down to the Roadster’s 18-inch rims and slightly taller profile tyres cushioning much of the bumps, as compared to the Coupe’s 19-inch rims from RAYS Engineering.

Realistically you would have to be a professional racing driver to find that extra 55kg handicap, but you don’t have to be one to appreciate the roadster’s top down experience.

With the fabric top stowed away, a job that takes about 20 seconds and the press of a button, you can get that “wind-in-your hair” feeling and hear that VQ37VHR engine doing its thing even better, though it still sounds more agricultural than cultured.

Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) in their infinite wisdom has decided that the Malaysian-bound Roadsters would only receive the seven-speed automatic instead of the manual with its flattering SynchroRev Match feature.

And we hate to say this but the seven-speed automatic is a fitting alternative to the manual, if you couldn’t be bothered to do clutch-balancing yourself.

A traditional slushbox it maybe, but it’s near instantaneous response made it think for a moment if it was a dual-clutch, while its smooth shifts complements the sunshine top-down cruiser image perfectly.

What’s more the transmission does blip the throttle for you at every downshift, making you feel like a hero.

Like the Coupe the Roadster comes fitted with a BOSE audio system that does deliver the needed audio firepower for you to hear your favourite radio talk show even with the top folded down.

However unlike the Coupe the Roadster does have a few compromises, chief among which is the boot space which has been reduce to a small token compartment that is good enough for a two backpacks realistically.

Also the fabric top doesn’t provide much in the way of sound proofing, and as a result there is a fair bit of wind noise intruding into the cabin, adding to the din emanating from the tyres.

We also question ETCM decision to give the Roadster seat warmers as seat coolers, available in other markets, would have made more sense in our climate and sunshine.

Yes, a BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster will carry far more badge kudos and would be a lot more refined, but they are also far more expensive.

Next to them the 370Z Roadster’s commanding price of RM399,900 is almost a bargain.

Furthermore next to the 370Z Roadster’s dramatic hunkered down stance and sharp lines, they look almost pansy and boring, and in the world of roadsters that head-turning looks maybe all you need.

Specifications

Engine: 3,696cc, six-cylinder 24-valve DOHC VQ37VHR

Max Power: 328hp @ 7,000rpm

Max Torque: 363Nm @ 5,200rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Features: 6 airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), traction control (TCS), and vehicle dynamic control (VDC).

Price: RM399,900 OTR with insurance

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