The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Nissan 370Z Roadster has a great V6 engine and a rear-wheel drive set up to create a modern sportscar that feels every inch a modern classic.
Reasons to buy:
- Fantastic looks
- Brilliant engine
- Superb handling
How good does it look?
Of all the quick cars currently on sale for less than £40k, the Nissan 370Z Roadster looks the most exotic. While the Porsche Boxster is rather understated and the BMW Z4 can polarise opinion, the Z Roadster makes the most of the sports convertible look. The rear can look chunky from some angles though, a problem caused by the need to package both the boot and folding roof between the rear wheels. The optional 19-inch RAYS alloy wheels are some of the best-looking fitted to any car.
What's the interior like?
While a step-up over its predecessor, the interior isn’t the best part of the package. The steering wheel adjusts for height but not reach, so some drivers won’t find a perfect driving position. The seating position is very low, making rear visibility poor, especially with the roof up. The view forwards is compelling, however: the ‘Z’ on the steering wheel, orange dials and shallow windscreen reminders this is a special car. The sat-nav and stereo are easily controlled, but the plastic surrounds are prone to scratches.
How practical is it?
The boot has shrunk to 140 litres to make way for the folding roof mechanism, which could make it tricky to take the car on trips lasting longer than a weekend. A shelf behind the front seats that can take small items, but it shrinks if the seats are slid all the way back. Cars without sat-nav have a useful cubby-hole ideal for mobile phones and wallets. Its rivals have more space, the Boxster boasting 280 litres overall, while the Z4 has 310 litre boot.
What's it like to drive?
There’s huge grip from the chassis and wide performance tyres. In fact there’s so much grip the car corners without fuss in all but very wet conditions, when power can bring the tail into play. Large 18 or 19-inch wheels and low-profile tyres transmit bumps and road noise into the cabin more than its rivals, robbing the Z of its rivals’ more refined characters. The steering is strongly weighted and the manual 370Z Roadster has a heavy clutch and gear throw, making it involving and reminiscent of driving classic sports cars.
How powerful is it?
There’s a 3.7-litre V6 engine under the long bonnet, pumping out 326bhp and giving the 370Z Roadster enormous bang-for-your-buck. By comparision, the 335bhp BMW Z4 sDrive35iS and Audi TT RS Roadster rely on turbochargers for their extra power and cost more than £44k. The automatic is slightly slower, hitting 62mph in 5.6 seconds, while the manual takes 5.3 and both hit a limited top speed of 155mph. It’s a potent engine which picks up strongly from low revs, but its engine note can be wearing in the roadster and should be quieter and sweeter than it is.
How much will it cost me?
The manual 370Z Roadster averages 25.2mpg and emits 262g/km, placing it in the highest road tax band and ‘first year rate’ (showroom tax) band, designed to put off buyers from choosing ‘gas-guzzlers’. Emitting 254g/km of CO2, the automatic is slightly cleaner, and falls into the second highest tax band and ‘first year rate’, a saving of several hundred pounds. Other than the initial tax penalty and cost of fuel, things are brighter. Nissan servicing should be reasonable and the mechanicals are tough and should last well. Drive it hard and replacement tyres will get expensive though.
How reliable is it?
The Z is designed to cope with its power, and all its parts are suitably reinforced, so should prove reliable. Nissan has quickly built up a reputation for the quality and performance of its sports cars.
How safe is it?
While the 370Z hasn’t been EuroNCAP crash tested yet, it should be very safe thanks to huge brakes, stability control and front, side and curtain airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
A start button, intelligent key, 18-inch alloy wheels, electric seats, steering wheel mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity are all standard. GT Pack cars gain 19-inch RAYS alloy wheels, heated and cooled seats, cruise control and a six-CD changer with Bose sound system. For the price, it’s better equipped than its rivals.
With the top down, on a great road, the Nissan 370Z Roadster is a great place to be. For the price it’s hard to beat, and a little extra polish would make it an even bigger threat to the Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK and Porsche Boxster.