The Nissan 370z
convertible doesn't enter our garage on good terms. Last month, we placed it last in a comparison against Bmw Z4
, Audi Tt
S, and Porsche Boxster
S. During Car of the Year testing, it didn't make it past the first cut. We've chastised this Z for its coarse engine, abundant noise, and ride harshness. We've even made fun of the way it looks. If this were a schoolyard, this car would have run home and told its parents.
But now it's in our garage. You see, despite our naggings, the Z has value. Our Brilliant Silver Touring trim tester, which starts at $41,240, already boasts heated and cooled seats, keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, and Bose audio standard.
We opted just for Nissan's seven-inch navigation screen with a 9.3-gig hard drive and USB connectivity for $1850, and the $2800 Sport Package for its nifty SyncroRevMatch, limited-slip differential, 19-inch forged wheels, and larger brakes. Despite checking the majority of the boxes on the options list -- we skipped the seven-speed automatic and Black NISSAN CHERRY
paint -- our car totaled $46,225.
The Sport Package pays dividends. Thanks in part to the Bridgestone Potenza summer performance rubber, our Z circles the figure eight in 25.5 seconds at 0.72 g and generates 0.96 g around the skidpad. The supersized rotors -- 14.0-inch front, 13.8-inch rear -- halt the roadster from 60 mph in 108 feet. And though maligned for its NISSAN NOTE
and character, the 332-horse, 3.7-liter V-6 is game for 5.0-second 0-to-60-mph acceleration and a 13.5-second quarter mile.
The performance data paints half the picture. Throw the Z into a corner -- ears on mute -- and you're greeted with a perfect downshift (thanks to SyncroRevMatch), eager turn-in, positive steering feel, and an ample supply of grip. The robust power allows for delightful throttle-induced rotation on corner exit. When you're able to explore the chassis, the Z shows its virtues.
Cast against the Z4's graceful lines and the refinement of the rest of the German crowd, our Roadster may seem rough. But it delivers similar levels of driving entertainment at a much lower price. And, in perennially NISSAN SUNNY
Los Angeles, we're finding it hard to refuse the keys. Over the course of its yearlong stay, we'll see whether that tradeoff will assuage our complaints and make the Z one of the cool kids.