2010 Nissan 370Z Convertible and 370 Nismo

31 Oct 2009 | 3,942 views | No Comment
There are cars you inherently love from the moment you sit behind the wheel, and others, not that much different, that you have to learn to like. The 2010 Nissan 370Z and 370 Nismo are two such cars. At the introduction of these two similar, but very different vehicles, generational issues arose as well as preferential ones. My co-driver, a man maybe 40 years my junior, had his impressions of the two cars as did I. Strangely, they were identical, something I didn’t expect from an admitted racer. 370zNismo4 Let’s go to the Nismo first. Nismo (rhymes with gizmo) is named from NISsan MOtorsports, the skunkworks performance group within Nissan. Based on the 370Z Coupe, the Nismo is six inches longer than the standard coupe, with dedicated bodywork that improved aerodynamics and well as adds sexiness. You can’t help but first notice the high-mounted functional wing over the rear deck. It gives the Nismo a street tuner look that’s way out of character for the car. Other body modifications include an extended nose, integrated chin spoilers and side sills and a unique rear bumper. I confess to not liking the wing that much, and it’s not that practical for off-track driving, but the other body mods give the Nismo a Porsche look from certain angles. 370zNismo2 Inside, aside from the unique Nismo seats with red “NIZMO” stitching, you could be driving a stock 370Z Coupe. The instrumentation is identical, but you can’t get a navigation system with the Nismo. Fire up the engine, though, and the similarity disappears. Nissan Motorsports found an extra 24 horsepower in the 3.7-liter V6, bringing it to an exciting 350 ponies. A good deal of this extra power comes from a new exhaust system, an H shape as opposed to a Y shape. The power is almost scary in normal driving. We had the opportunity to take the Nismo through some of Northern California’s most winding back roads and enjoyed the challenge of trying to wring the most out of the engine and its revised suspension package. I drove the Nismo to the best of my ability, only to find that my co-driver, who has more racing experience than I do, absolutely drove the wheels off the car. And, despite this revelation, neither one of us gave the other the feeling that death was imminent. Snicking through the excellent six-speed transmission is such fun. There are problems. With that wing, rear visibility is compromised to the point that we used the side mirrors far more than normal. And the firmer suspension, while not a kidney-buster, did reduce the standard 370Z ride quality on less-than-ideal road surfaces. Base price of the Nismo is an affordable $39,150 MSRP, about the same as the Convertible. 370Z Convertible During the introduction, we chose to drive the Nismo first, primarily because we felt there would be higher demand than for the Convertible. During our lunch break we could drive anything, and I chose a 370Z Convertible with a 6-speed automatic and paddle shifters. Within the first 100 yards I knew I was in a totally different vehicle, one that reminded me more of the base coupe than the Nismo. 370zNismo3 The difference is that the Convertible is more civilized. It’s quieter, even with the cloth top down, and has a more compliant suspension that’s perfect for normal driving, yet firm enough to allow the Convertible to stretch its muscles on twisting roads. Even with the slightly less powerful version of the same engine, there was no lack of power. We could accelerate to whatever speed we felt comfortable with, all the while enjoying top-down motoring. The Convertible and Nismo add new colors to the Z’s palette, all with the great Z DNA that centers it in a triangle of High Performance, High Value and Design. Designer Bruce Campbell spoke to the design in saying that from the beginning of the design process, a 370Z Convertible was considered alongside the Coupe, so that the Convertible wouldn’t look like a “Coupe with the top sliced off.” 370zNismo1 “The 370Z was a super evolution,” he continued, “and we didn’t want to walk away from the image we had established. The 350Z was iconic, with a simple character line. With the 370 we added a few more classical elements. The Convertible draws on the cantilevered roof of the GTR. It’s not just all about the driver, it’s about two passengers in harmony.” The Convertible is one of the few that looks as good with the top up as down. It’s a softer look. The padded headliner is of the same ilk as the Jaguar XK. “A convertible has no right being this good,” my co-driver exclaimed after a few minutes behind the wheel. I agreed. The Convertible shares the Coupe’s SynchroRevMatch that “blips” the transmission when you downshift. It can be overcome, but I discovered that the car double-clutch downshifted better than I did. It uniquely has heated and cooled seats that are necessary in hot weather. The Convertible has a decent trunk, since the lowered top is stowed forward of the trunk area. This makes it a true 2-seater, with a pair of roll hoops behind each seat. Pricing of the Convertible begins at $38,370 and rises to about $41,820 with all the bells and whistles. Nissan expects to sell 70 percent Coupes, 30 percent Convertibles, with 5 percent of Coupe sales being for the Nismo. © 2009 The Auto Page Syndicate

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