Driven: 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

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Slide in, drop the top, clutch in and step on the brake, press the start button. The 370Z Roadster's 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 growls to life, and you're ready to attack your favorite stretch of tree-lined two-lane blacktop. It's summer, and this Nissan's ready.

Unlike the 350Z convertible, the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster was designed from the outset to be a convertible, and it shows. Top up or down, the proportions and perspectives are much cleaner and more attractive than its predecessor. The top-down look is especially good. Sexy, even.

More Than Just A Pretty Face
But the look isn't the only thing built into this roadster. It's a solid sports car, too. Like its hardtop brethren, the Roadster delivers all the Synchro-Rev downshifting fun and on-demand power you're likely to want within 150 percent of any given speed limit. It'll spin the rear tires at will once you disengage the VDC, it stops like it dropped an anchor, and it'll even turn a corner without complaint.

There are a few Roadster-specific criticisms to performance, of course. Chassis flex for one--there's plenty of it, though it's not as bad as, for instance, the Mustang GT Convertible. Back out of an uneven driveway while looking over your shoulder and you'll see the flex in slow-motion. Toss the Roadster into a long, fast sweeper and you'll feel the suspension settle followed immediately by a second shift, like the car's outside rear wheel is sinking down an inch or so. That's the flex. In the end, it doesn't compromise the car's capability on the street, and you're not going to be turning the Roadster into a dedicated track car anyway, so we'll leave it at that.

Comfortable Cruiser
As a pure street vehicle, the 370Z is brilliant, and the Roadster improves the formula. It's not too loud with the top up, and even with the top down, as long as you keep the side windows rolled up, it's quiet and calm enough in the cockpit to hold a fairly normal conversation up to about 80 mph. But it's the materials and design in the cabin that really make the experience.

If you're at all familiar with the 350Z--I own one--you know that, as good a car as it is, the interior is about one notch above econo-car cheap. It's simple, utilitarian, and functional, to be sure, but the materials don't feel great and the design is uninspired. The 370Z suffers none of this, especially when outfitted with the navigation package and leather interior upgrades. Alcantara door inserts, quality metal accents, durable-feeling plastic buttons, and soft-touch synthetics combine to make a cabin that's almost indistinguishable from an Infiniti's. And that's a very good thing, even taking into account the Z Roadster Touring's $44,420 asking price once you tack on delivery and the Sport Package.

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