Nissan 370Z Roadster

Verdict as lid is lifted on latest muscular Z-car

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

More than 40 years since they were first introduced, Nissan’s Z cars still have huge appeal. The 370Z Roadster stays true to the original formula of good looks, strong pace and affordability – and adds a folding fabric roof to the mix, too. But the design is clumsy from some angles and the soundtrack can’t match the handling. We’d go for the more accomplished Coupé, or beg, steal or borrow the extra £5,600 for Porsche’s sublime Boxster S.

Look out Boxster S! Nissan’s 370Z Roadster has arrived in the UK, and it’s aiming to take on the Porsche with an unbeatable combination of driver thrills and value for money.

The soft-top’s dramatic styling has been taken up a notch over the fixed roof Z coupé, with the swooping bonnet and muscular rear haunches standing out even more when the top is stowed.

Raise the canvas hood, though, and the drama fades to disappointment. The arrangement appears clumsy and doesn’t do justice to the car’s natural curves, giving the rear a bloated look.

Things improve under the bonnet. The Roadster uses the same 323bhp 3.7-litre V6 engine as the coupé, giving junior-GT-R performance. Our only gripe is with the relatively muted and coarse exhaust note – an opportunity missed considering there’s no roof.

Pick up the pace and the package begins to gel. The steering weights up nicely in quick corners, while the V6 provides searing pace. If you’re feeling brave, you can switch off the ESP – the car is great fun, and yet easily controllable.

Our Z was fitted with a six-speed manual box – which suits the car’s no-nonsense character well – although a seven-speed auto is also available. The former gets Nissan’s SynchroRev Match technology, which automatically blips the throttle moments before you change down a ratio. As a result, the manual is a joy to use and makes owners feel like fully fledged racing drivers.

Overall, the 370Z Roadster offers exactly what you’d expect – dramatic looks, a muscular V6 and wind-in-the-hair thrills. But with a richer exhaust note and superior roof mechanism, this car could have been much better.

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