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2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster Test Drive by Martha Hindes - RTM's 17th Annual Sexy Car Buyer's Guide

2013 Nissan 370Z Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2013 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Most Sex Appeal

Chevrolet Camaro SS

Mini Cooper Roadster

Dodge Challenger

Nissan 370Z

Give those creative types some leeway and guess what they'll do. Take advantage of it, of course. But that's not to suggest change for the sake of change. Rather, it's to add some more oomph, visual and mechanical, to an already knockout auto. With the 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster some nifty changes worked beautifully as a lure. They caught us with our temptation guard down.

Our past forays in the Z seemed heavier on the macho, lighter on the eye candy side. Sure it kicked our track tire demeanor. We can't help but notice the changes in the 2013 update all strike a beautiful balance of proportion, amenities and that gut wrenching need for speed that sorts the wanabees from the real thing.

With the stretched hood, compact, low slung cockpit, revised front fascia and alluring body lines, the refreshed 370Z Roadster is definitely a grabber meant to seduce away one's reluctance to take the plunge into summertime driving fun. Among visual changes are a revised front fascia, red rear fascia reflector, LED daytime running lights, new wheel design and new Midnight Blue and Magma Red as exterior color. Together they keep the Z Roadster's aggressive appearance updated and trendy.

The Z roadster for two, the newest of the Zs, has been hauling along American roads for about a decade, the coupe longer. Neither has been the kind of road rocket that would blast the paint lines off of pavement with its six-cylinder engine base. But we don't find fault with that. The 2.7-liter V6 pumps out 332-maximum horsepower and can run off a seven speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control that adapts to driving style. That's the only transmission on the base 370Z.

The upscale Touring model, with available Sport and Navigation packages, can opt for the automatic or a close ratio six-speed manual with a transmission booster called SynchroRev Match. It helps ensure smooth, synchronized gearing during manual downshifts, a system Nissan calls the "world's first." (No more "Oh rats!" grinding of gearing here for the less than optimally coordinated.) Either trim can add an available spare tire.

Best fuel economy comes with the automatic, with mileage ratings of 18 city and 25 highway. The manual loses 1 MPG in both city and highway ratings.

Inside, both passengers are somewhat cocooned by a separating center console with a cup holder, and scooped instrument panel. Standard automatic climate control takes the surprise out of changing weather conditions, and audio has illuminated steering
wheel controls. Among options: Rear view monitor, real time traffic and weather information with the available touch screen navigation system, subscription-based satellite radio, Blue Tooth hands-free phone connectivity, and even in dash Zagat restaurant ratings survey when the craving for munchies takes over.
For one inclined to add all the bells and whistles, the Z's more modest pricing than more exotic autos can allow for some unanticipated pampering. One is high back net seating, and heating/cooling seating with leather in the upmarket Touring model, that also includes upgraded eight-speaker Bose audio.

However, standard equipment includes the power automatic latching retractable soft top that nests beneath a hard cover when open. There's a single driver action required to extract it and get it quickly closed when Mother Nature in one of her more disagreeable moods decides to dump the equivalent of a small lake on the hapless drivers below.  (Maybe like Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall fending off the illusion held by many of femininity as submissive.) When Big Mama minds her manners, the top-down experience is designed to reduce open top wind turbulence.

To differentiate it from the coupe that structurally would be more rigid thanks to the law of physics, the open top roadster has structural body reinforcements so the thrill of hairpin turns at speed doesn't get lost in white knuckle panic. Weight restrictions are held in control by use of aluminum hood, trunk and doors.

On the handling and safety side, there's the same advanced 4-wheel independent suspension as on the coupe, Anti-lock Braking, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist, plus a full application of airbags, including side curtains, plus zone body construction and active head restraint as standard. Sport Brakes, augmented with larger rotors and heavier duty brake calipers painted red for visual impact, along with Euro-tuned sport shocks are included with the optional Sport Package.

Looking at potential sports car pricing, one can be inclined to peek through the fingers at the cost so the impact doesn't hit all at once. The Z falls in the middling range, with the base roadster at $41,470 and Touring at $44,170 (manual) or $45,170 (automatic) The Touring model can ratchet up by $2,830 (Sport Package) and $2,150 (Navigation package). Maybe the fingers can relax a bit after all.