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The Nissan 370Z fits between more expensive sports cars like the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and less expensive, less powerful cars like the Mazda Miata. Available as a coupe or convertible, the Z also competes with the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, though it is sportier and only offers seating for two instead of four.
The coupe version of the Z was redesigned for 2009, getting a new name to reflect a larger engine. The redesigned version sports a shorter wheelbase and all-new styling inside and out. For 2010, the convertible version gets the same treatment. In both cases, the sixth generation of the Z is the best yet.
The wheelbase of this sixth-generation car is almost four inches shorter than the previous-generation 350Z, and all of the sheet metal is new. Although the styling has something plainly in common with the pre-2009 model, almost every plane and contour is subtly or distinctly different.
The previous 350Z was fun to drive, but the latest-generation 370Z is a revelation. With the shortened body came increased torsional rigidity, which results in a greater feeling of agreement from all parts of the chassis. It now feels agile rather than brutal, supple rather than rigid, and it is easier to drive as a result. Quick, responsive steering also helps.
The roadster is sturdier than most open-top competitors, but isn't as solid and controlled as the coupe.
The 370Z is fast. The 3.7-liter V6 can motivate the car from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 5.2 seconds. Power is readily available across all rev ranges, but the V6 can sound somewhat gruff during hard acceleration. We like the new SynchroRev feature available with the six-speed manual transmission. It blips the throttle during downshifts to match revs and keep the car from getting upset during performance driving. The responsive seven-speed automatic transmission also has a rev matching feature, and it comes with steering wheel shift paddles for those who want to exercise more control.
The new generation Z is much improved on the inside over the pre-2009 models. The materials are much richer looking and the design escapes the low-rent effect of the old 350Z. Along with the improved aesthetics comes rational layout and control function.
There's still ample space in the seats for two occupants to travel in comfort. The coupe has a modest but usable rear cargo area under the hatch, while the convertible has a small trunk sized for a couple of duffle bags at best.
We did find a couple of minor drawbacks. Rear visibility can be limited in both body styles, entry/exit is strictly for younger and more limber occupants, and engine and tire noise can intrude. The roadster suffers from wind noise when the top is down.
The Nismo model introduced for 2010 is best for track use. It has more performance features but has a very hard ride and is considerably louder than the standard versions.
Fast, agile and with a civilized interior, the 370Z is one of the best performance values on the market.