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Nissan 370Z

Z34 370Z

1 May 2009

As the follow-up to the acclaimed 350Z, the 370 had some big shoes to fill. A look at the spec sheet revealed a car that was not only lighter than its predecessor, but more powerful and rigid too. Add to that list improved suspension and increased interior quality – the 350Z’s interior was a big weakness of that car – and similar prices.

Priced at $67,990 (add $3,000 for the auto), the car competed with the Audi TT on price. But the cars performance benchmark was the Porsche Cayman. The 370Z was powered by a 245kW, 363Nm 3.7-litre V6 driven through the rear wheels. A six-speed manual came standard, but a seven-speed automatic was an option.

The car’s wheelbase was a full 100mm shorter than the previous model, while the overall length decreased by 65mm. However, the width and tracks were increased. At 1471kg, it was also 15 kg lighter than the 350Z. The fact that the car was shorter, wider, lighter and more powerful signalled Nissan’s intentions clearly.

The interior was a much nicer place to be than the old model too, with a more upmarket feel and more standard features. Especially welcome was the Infiniti-sourced satellite navigation screen, replacing the old car’s tacky storage area. Quibbles include the seat and wheel adjustment, and the near-illegible analogue speedometer. The intrusive strut brace of the old model was downsized, making the rear more spacious.

By making improvements in the right areas while keeping the brawny character that made it so popular, Nissan created a car that a worthy evolution of the 350Z and the ‘Z’ nameplate dating back to the classic Datsuns of the 1970’s.

A roadster model came along in early-2010 with an all-new electro-hydraulic roof usurping the old electrical item, and dispensing with the manual latching system for a one-touch full-automatic operation.

It resulted in a 20-second operation via a relocated (to centre console) toggle, folding away beneath a body-coloured steel tonneau behind the seats. For convenience a button on the door handles allowed it to be also lowered from the outside, making entry easier in confined spaces.

The roof also lost the old canvas item for what Nissan called a “high quality” fabric.

The Japanese company said it went for soft – rather than a hard – roof design for the former’s lower mass, improved weight distribution, and packaging advantages, making for a bigger boot – which could swallow a full-sized golf bag and “some weekend luggage”.

Three key objectives were behind the new roof: to create a sleeker coupe profile with it erect to offer easier and simpler operation and to reduce wind turbulence for better all-climate comfort.

To that end a glass wind deflector lived between the twin rollover protection bars, while the roof’s ceiling was fully lined. The windscreen was shorter than before but the electrically heated glass rear window was bigger. It was also on a greater rake, for improved aerodynamics sake – 0.33cd is the quoted figure.

Abandoning the old model’s horizontal lines for a Ferrari California-esque bulbous profile, the 370Z Roadster’s silhouette continued with the cantilever theme first seen in the R35 GT-R.

Decapitating the Coupe and the subsequent lost rigidity required significant structural reinforcements in the A-pillars and side sills, as well as around the door and boot openings.

Obviously based on the 370Z Coupe, the convertible shared all of that vehicle’s chassis and mechanical components, so outputs are the same. In manual guise, the 370Z roadster rushed from zero to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds (auto: 5.8) while fuel consumption dropped from 12 litres per 100km to 11.2 (auto: from 12 to 10.8). Carbon dioxide emissions were 265 grams per kilometre, or 257 if in the auto.

Weight rises over the Coupe were 55kg (to 1608kg) and 60kg (to 1618kg) for the manual and auto respectively, but the 350Z Roadster was 32kg heavier.

Among other parts, the bonnet, boot lid and doors were made of aluminium to help cut the kilos.

Following the Coupe, the Roadster’s suspension was via a double wishbone up front and an independent multi-link arrangement in the rear, while a vehicle speed-sensitive hydraulic rack and pinion steering system was employed.

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