Road Test: Nissan 370Z Convertible

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The 2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible is a driver’s car.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible
2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible

I say that not just because it has a 332 hp motor with a six speed transmission. It’s not just because the Touring edition has upgraded suspension and brakes that allow you to attack any road. It’s not just because, as Nissan’s ad says, “It’s not a car, it’s an experience!”

I say that because you’re going to spend most of your time driving alone.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible
Do you really need two seats?

Yes, it has two seats. And they are very comfortable. Nissan calls it the “Holding Layer”. The Touring edition of the 370Z holds you in place with leather and faux-suede upholstery. They could keep you and your passenger comfortable with both heating and cooling.

But you won’t have many passengers. Why, you ask? Let’s start with the 332 hp. You won’t be able to leave it alone. You’ll find yourself intentionally taking the long way home because it has this great little windy road. Oh sure, your friends will enjoy the thrill at first, but soon it will wear off. After all, they don’t get to slam through the gears and search for the edge of adhesion. They won’t appreciate the SynchroRev technology that monitors the clutch, shift lever, and vehicle speed so that when you downshift, the system will give the throttle a slight “blip”, taking the RPM to just the right level for a perfect meshing of gears. Or how you can turn it off and challenge yourself to equal the SynchroRev technology.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible
You’ll Enjoy The Nissan Convertible Cocoon

And then there’s the convertible top. I have driven convertibles for years and I’ve learned one thing: passengers don’t like convertibles nearly as much as the driver. Oh sure, they think they want to drive around with the top down. But the novelty usually wears off quickly. Wives and girlfriends complain about the wind blowing their hair (although the 370Z does create a great cocoon to reduce buffeting). Passengers find it hard to have a normal conversation because you can hear the wind whistling by. No, convertibles are a personal experience. You’ll either want to enjoy the sound of the car cutting through the air and the exhaust blipping its way down the gears, or you’ll crank up the music so that it overpowers the mechanical and aero cacophony. My test car had the Bose Audio System with eight speakers including two subwoofers to blow away the road noise. Either way there is no room for passengers.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible
The trunk is good for two carry-ons. Maybe.

And then there’s the trunk. I laughed when I read Nissan’s website. It shows a picture of the open trunk and says “Storage for the real world”. You better not plan on carrying much in that real world. I’m not even sure that it would fit two suitcases, which makes it dicey for those weekend road trips (just make sure they’re soft sided duffles). Nissan calls it just right for a couple of sets of golf clubs. I didn’t measure, but it looked pretty tight for duffers.

The Nissan 370Z is a masterpiece of sports car machinery. The base price for the coupe is around $33,000. You’ll add about $8,000 for the base convertible. My test car was the Touring edition. With about $5,000 in options the final sticker was $50,055. While it’s not cheap, it’s one heck of a lot less expensive than some other sports cars that don’t deliver any more driving pleasure.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible engine
Nissan’s 3.7 liter 332 hp engine

The 370Z’s 332 hp comes from a 3.7 liter V6 DOHC with Variable Valve Event and Lift VVEL. It varies the intake valve clearance depending on the conditions. According to Nissan it means the engine is not only more responsive but also produces lower emissions. The touring edition had front and rear stabilizer bars, as well as front and rear vented disc brakes.

The looks of Nissan’s modern Z has evolved nicely since the first 350 model. The 2013 370Z styling is very slightly different from last year. The front now has LED daytime running lights at the leading edge of the fenders. The Touring edition adds a rear spoiler and a front chin spoiler. It’s still a car that your neighbors (who no doubt have plenty of passengers in their SUVs) will lust after.

2013 Nissan 370Z Convertible
Nissan 370Z Looks Have Evolved Nicely

There isn’t much to complain about with the 370Z. OK, it only has a single cup holder in what Nissan calls the “Operational Layer” (that’s the center console). But that only reinforces my point. It’s made for you, not passengers.

So go ahead, buy yourself a new Nissan 370Z. But just understand that you’ll end up driving it alone. And you’ll enjoy every minute of your mechanical solitude.

 

 

 

 

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