2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster
Base price: $44,170
As tested: $50,055
MPG: 18 city/25 highway
- Fast, fun, and plenty of sun (when you want it)
- Limited cargo space
By Michael Hagerty
As car buffs know, many manufacturers have tried to capture the essence of British marques such as the MG, Triumph, and Austin-Healy, which are considered the kings of the mountain in open-air motoring. Nissan has come close with previous versions of the Z, but the newest edition is a roadster at its best.
The Nissan 370Z seems to cover all the bases: power, handling, style, and features. It has only one weak point, which is common among two-seat convertibles: practicality. Even for it’s class, the Z’s trunk space is tiny — two cubic feet smaller than the BMW Z4, for example.
For the $44,170 base price, you get a small, light roadster with 332 horsepower and a six-speed manual (an automatic is available at extra cost). Several creature comforts are included, such as a Bose audio system, and connectivity via a port and Bluetooth wireless technology for audio. Nissan hasn't messed with success for 2013, keeping the changes from last year down to a few amenities, such as cool-looking LEDs as daytime running lights, and ordering the optional Sport Package — which our tester had — gives you re-designed 19-inch wheels.
Convertibles can be tricky as high-performance sports cars. When you cut off the roof of a car, you reduce the structural rigidity. They develop what’s known as “cowl shake.” Drive down the road, and you can actually see the flex where the windshield joins the hood of the car. Some roadsters shake like a wet dog, which isn’t conducive to good handling and certainly isn’t confidence inspiring. Because the Z was conceived as a convertible from the outset, it remains strong even with the top down. It feels as though it was carved from a solid block of steel.
The Z Roadster scores on looks, too. It’s attractive, though not gorgeous with the top up — it looks a bit chunky, in fact. But lower the roof and it becomes a lithe package with an aggressive stance and the performance to back it up.
The Mazda Miata is cheaper by several thousand, but it doesn’t have the Z’s power. The German roadsters (Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, and Porsche Boxster) have a slight edge on performance, but they cost considerably more to buy and have higher maintenance and repair costs. Kudos to Nissan for finding a sweet spot in the market with the Z Roadster. In many ways, it harkens the prime of British open roadsters.
Michael Hagerty is an automotive publisher and editor who has been talking cars on the air, in print, and online for more than 15 years.