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Review: 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Kamil Kaluski September 16, 2013 Featured, Nissan Reviews, Reviews 28 Comments


In these days of Nürburgring times, imaginary performance figures, and spec-sheet competitions, it is easy to forget what a sports car is, or should be, all about. While car manufacturers try to sell us horsepower, acceleration times, and laps times, we should remember that driving a sports car should be about having fun. Unfortunately there is no measurement for fun, and that’s why some fast cars (BMW M6) aren’t necessarily fun, and some slow cars (Subaru BRZ) are a whole lot of fun.

Nissan’s Z cars were never the fastest or the best handling, but despite that they were very popular. Perhaps it was the strong six-cylinder engine, or the rear-wheel drive setup, or the just-right dimensions, or the just-right price that made them so popular. More likely it was the sum of all those things, with the just-right amount of fun and good looks sprinkled on top that made everyone want one.

The 2013 (2014 is pretty much identical) Nissan 370Z (Z34) continues on the path set by its ancestors. Its 3.7 liter V6 engine makes 332-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It can be matched up to either a six-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission. That power can then be put to the ground via an optional limited-slip rear differential. The chassis features double wish-bone suspension in the front and multi-link rear suspension in the back, and big disc brakes with available multi-piston calipers. This is Sports Car 101 type of stuff and the Z gets it just right, as it always did.

2013 nissan 370z roadster interior

The cabin of this two-seater feels expectedly cramped and lacks a little pizzaz one should expect from a sports car. While the big tachometer and speedometer are just right, the LED dots which show fuel level and engine temperature are tacky, in addition to being invisible in bright daylight. The three gauges in the center pod (oil temp, voltage, digital clock) are designed to reflect on older Z interiors but are not really needed.

The infotainment is standard Nissan/Infiniti issue; it works well and is easy to use. The vehicle I was driving was a Touring model and was equipped with the Bose sound system which sounded good regardless of whether the top was up or down. Buyers should keep in mind that vehicles not equipped with the navigational system get a 90’s style single-DIN head-unit with a small compartment above the radio.

2013 nissan 370z roadster engine

Thankfully, anyone with an ounce of oil in their veins will overlook the shortcomings of the interior. While it lacks the rumble of a V8, this VQ-series engine is amazingly smooth and flexible. A very generous amount of torque is available below 1000rpm allowing the Z to be smoothly driven in city traffic in third gear. Peak torque comes on at over in over 5000rpm but the whole power-band, all the way to the 7500rpm redline, is amazingly smooth. According to big magazines the Z does 0-60 in less than 5 seconds and kills the quarter mile in the low-to-mid thirteens. You’re jaded if you think that isn’t fast.

Street handling and stopping were equally great, with the suspension dialed in just right to absorb road irregularities. The ride was much better than some of the 370Z’s competitors or even those of its cousin, the Infiniti G37S coupe. No complaints about the steering, the shifter, or the clutch pedal either. This Z car had the rev-matching SynchroRev Match® feature, which blips the throttle when shifting. It’s a cool feature but nothing that a good driver isn’t already doing.

2013 Nissan 370Z interior details

Big car magazines love to blast convertibles for phenomena they call “cowl shake”. Having driven this Z over several railroad crossings, I can happily report that it felt damn solid. The power top is easy to operate and can be operated up to 3mph, which I found out in stop-and-go traffic; when the traffic speed suddenly picked up and I had to pull over onto the shoulder to complete the top operation.

The problem with the car I was driving, a fully loaded Roadster, was its price. The base roadster model starts at $41,470. The Touring model with Sports Package comes to $47,000. Add to that the Navigation Package and you’re looking at a $50,000 Datsun. Ouch. Compare that to similarly equipped Camaro SS2 convertible ($45,215) or loaded Mustang GT Premium convertible at $47,000. The Infiniti G37 Convertible Sport is just a hair more at $53,600. To be fair, that same money buys a 4-cylinder BMW Z4 or a stripped base Porsche Boxster, if such thing even exists.

2013 Nissan 370z roadster exterior details

The good news for most enthusiasts is that the coupe starts just under $30,000. Add the sports package with big multi-caliper brakes and an honest limited-slip differential for three grand more and you got yourself a track-worthy sports car that is a blast to drive every day. Obvious comparisons should be made to a similarly priced $35,000 Ford Mustang GT with the Track Package, but see the first paragraph of this review.

In the days that I had this roadster I developed a lust for it. It was not perfect, it was not the fastest, and it was not cheap, but it was a ton of well-balanced fun. And fun should be the primary reason why we buy such cars, and it’s what Nissan’s Z cars have always been, and still are. Now, can we get a T-top version?

2013 Nissan 370z roadster side

 [Images: Copyright 2013 Redusernab/Kamil Kaluski]

  • mike

    Cool wheels!!!

  • Scandinavian Flick ★

    One thing I learned from this is; in French, a golf bag is a "sack of golf".

    I can tell just by looking at the pics I would not fit in there… Also, $50K for the fully loaded model? That's the entry level for a new C7 Stingray.

    • I'm 6'2", 230lbs, no issues.

      • 230lbs-ish…

      • Scandinavian Flick ★

        6'4", 215. From my experience, the extra 2" makes a world of difference. For example, my 6'2" friend can drive an NB Miata or S2000 in general comfort. I can't get my foot off the clutch in either car…

        • I can drive any Miata, and have shoe-horned myself into a Lotus Exige, too. S2000 was not a problem.
          You're right, I am at the limit in many of those cars, and I prefer to sit closer to the steering wheel.

        • jeepjeff

          I'm 6' and pretty close to average proportions. I fit in an S2000 just fine (I'm also like Kamil, I want my seat pulled in tight). The reason I bring this up is that your 6'2" friend might have proportionately shorter legs (closer to mine than yours), so that 2" height difference could be quite a bit more, particularly if you have a short torso. And being a couple inches out isn't at all unheard of. Michael Phelps at 6'4" has shorter legs than I do. My wife at 5'6" has the same length legs as me. (I bring up leg length in particular since I know your problem with these cars is getting your knees hung up on the dash and steering wheel.)

          • Scandinavian Flick ★

            I'm pretty evenly proportioned, and have a 34 inseam. (Funny note; my 6'1" girlfriend has longer legs than me…) But yeah, I know it's the legs that limit me mostly. That and huge feet, which is my limiting factor in cars that have a funneling foot well, like the Elise, Pantera, and C3 Corvette… All of which I can never drive…

            • pj134

              HAW HAW!

              Seriously though, I can fit in everything. I just wanted to remind you of that.

    • How tall/big are you?

      I hated the interior of the 350Z convertible, this car however is much better. I'm 6'3" 220 and I fit snugly but comfortably.

      • You wish you were 220.

        • Scandinavian Flick ★

        • Stepped on a scale this morning… 219 to be exact, fat ass

      • Scandinavian Flick ★

        Some tall MFs up in here…


        • At 6', I am the short Asian guy here.

        • 6' 3/4" and a skinny ass 145 lbs. 53, almost 54 years old and I weigh the same I did when Bishop Baum granted me that high school diploma in 1977. Most I've ever weighed is 155 and my then wife called me fat. Did I say then wife?.

        • chrystlubitshi

          6'3" 255**, 34" inseam, size 13 shoe… Flick– I know what you mean about never being able to drive miatas, s2000s, c3 vettes, and a sizeable list of others…. it just doesn't work.

          ** 36" waist… i'm not fat, just a good 'ole cornfed nebraska/indiana man

    • FYI: Orinda car show is this Saturday, Danville Concours in Sunday.

  • Nice job calling out everyone that thinks sub-13s in the quarter mile is jaded. That is goddamn fast!

    Someone should start a t-top conversion shop. Sure, it would go broke in a month, but it would be awesome to see at least one t-top 370Z.

    • Dean Bigglesworth

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  • pj134

    You didn't touch on the best feature of the roadster. The ball cooler in that thing is fantastic.

    • Ventilated seats?
      Yes, they were awesome, part of fancy package. I ran out of space to say that.

  • MSRP, schmeMSRP. I would choose this over a Mustang, Camaro, or 'Vette, just because I think it seems more…cheerful, for lack of a better word. As much fun to drive hard, and more enjoyable to live with day-to-day.

    It's the smokin' hot girl next door with the cute smile.

    • chrystlubitshi

      smokin' hot girl next door— accessible or the figment of your dreams…? I never had a smokin' hot, friendly/nice girl next door… just smokin' hot (High School) political b*tches…

  • Van_Sarockin

    Nice car, seeming to be an improvement over the prior version. Not the home run that the 240 was, but commendable. I'll pick on the interior, and the price. That interior looks like they were phoning it in at best. The 240 really featured it's deeply hooded gauges, less glare, you know. All this stuff is half hearted and tacked on. As is the rest of that pathetic dash and console. And the price is frankly hefty. I guess they've decided to make profit per unit, rather than try to maximize unit sales.

  • themostlyporscheblog

    Just dropping in to say how much I detest directional "twist" wheels. Those are just atrocious.

    -Bradley C. Brownell

    • Go fix your car… there must something wrong with it. 😛



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