When planning my attendance to this year’s Joburg Pride, I was faced with a dilemma. What car to drive? It would have to be a convertible. And preferably something flashy. There were so many options, but one stood out as a must-have: Nissan’s new 370Z Roadster.

Successor to the popular 350Z and sibling to the manic 370Z Coupe, the Roadster had just what I wanted. A folding roof, two racy seats, stunning good looks and a meaty power plant – perfect for a weekend of sun and driving.

I drove it as part of a campaign by Nissan South Africa to gain more share in the gay market. And so, I asked myself a question: is this car the one for a gay man? Are the menacing looks too macho? Is the performance too hard-core? You’ll have seen a number of these at Pride, and you’ll be lying if you tell me you didn’t take a second glance.

I’ll start with the looks. The 370Z is far more exciting to stare at than the 350Z. And if I had to say, I much prefer it to the Coupe. The lines are just perfect on this car, keeping you interested and always on a path of discovery in changing light conditions.

From the front, a gaping GTR-like air dam and sleek headlights emphasise this car’s width. A long, sculpted bonnet gives away a clue or two as to what lies under it, and the steep windscreen adds to that sense of being constantly in motion. Large 19” Ray’s Engineering lightweight alloy rims show off the massive Nissan brakes (not Brembo like on the 350Z) through a stunning split-spoke design. Thankfully the vertical door handles are still there.

Round the back, a high boot line and L-shaped tail lights again emphasise width, and with super-wide rear wheel arches this car really has a J-Lo bum. Two gigantic chrome exhausts are the source of a stunning sound track, and they round everything off to great harmonious effect. The best part is that whether the roof is up or down, the 370Z looks sexy, which is something many other convertibles aren’t able to achieve.

The question now is whether the looks are just for show and this car has no go. I have the relative authority to tell you that if you thought the car looks good, just wait until you get inside! Two semi-bucket electrically adjustable and heated suede/leather seats await you and your lucky passenger, and the cockpit immediately sucks you into a world of proper spirited driving.

The dials are easy to read and move up and down with the multi-function steering wheel, so as to be completely visibly no matter where you might want the steering wheel. A bone of contention though: Not being adjustable for reach, left me sitting too far away from the ‘wheel in order to accommodate my legs, and moving forward of course meant sitting rather awkwardly. Luckily though I got used to it and with high comfort levels, you’ll soon forget about it.

Fitted with optional satellite navigation and a fully-integrated touch screen, infotainment in the Z is great. The Bose sound system is phenomenal, and I quite enjoyed providing some soulful sound to the people around me while driving in the parade. There’s just something cool about two subwoofers pounding your seat! Audio dynamics with the roof down and even at higher speeds are still great, so well done, Nissan. Along with a CD front-loader, auxiliary and USB ports, your listening experience (and I guess that of those around you, too) is top notch.

Keyless go, six airbags and a decent boot are among other good attributes you’ll find with this car, but if I had to bitch about problems there is only really one: why are there no parking sensors? The low seating position means you have no clue where the nose is, and other than lifting yourself up and breaking your neck to look behind you, you won’t know where the backside is, either.

This car’s best asset however, is its engine. Displacing 3.7 litres, the 245 kW, 363 Nm V6 is like a good Pride after party: loud, powerful and something you never want to leave. The sound track is meaty, starting low down with a deep bass line, moving to a hearty grumble and ending in a bellowing wail at the top of the rev range. It’s not as sweet as the 350Z’s – the best part of that car, for me – but it’s got a nice dollop of GTR in the mix which really gets the blood flowing. Perhaps so much so that, as one of my drooling passengers stated, the noise could very well arouse your trouser furniture!

The 370Z Roadster is available with the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or, like the one I drove, a 7-speed semi-automatic. More of a clutchless manual than an auto, it’s an out-and-out driver’s ‘box. Leaving the lever in normal automatic mode is fine, but shifts are jerky. Flip it over into full manual mode though, and it’s brilliant.

Shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel are exactly how they should be: one for up, one for down, and they are fixed to the steering boss. Shifts are almost instant and lightning quick, meaning you really can explore this engine’s power. As a bit of extra wet-your-pants technical wizardry, the gearbox automatically blips the throttle for you on downshifts, something which always makes my knees go weak!

Nissan claims that the Roadster is not simply a Coupe with a floppy roof and a windy cabin. They say it’s been designed as a convertible from the get-go, and I have to say I believe them. The Roadster has absolutely zero scuttle-shake, and if you don’t know what I mean by that, drive an Opel Tigra. You’ll wonder how much bubblegum the two ends of the car have been joined together with. The Nissan’s chassis is stiff and communicative, which gives you the peace of mind needed to push towards its limits. And if I am honest, the limits are rather high!

Cornering in this car at high speeds is very easy, provided you haven’t tampered with the VDC (traction control) because there is just so much power that you’ll easily get the tail to hang out, and most probably won’t be able to react quickly enough, nor possess the talent you’ll need to keep yourself out of the hedges.

I drove the 370Z Roadster with gusto most of the time, because that’s what the car makes you want to do. It’s so exciting and so good that you can’t help but make a noise and put foot all the time. Fuel economy suffers of course as a result, but if you’ve got the money for a car like this and you’re buying it for the right reasons, who cares?

At the end of the day, this is a purist’s car. It’s for someone who enjoys the wind in their hair, some grunt under their bum (no pun intended) and a car that other people would love to be seen in. Being reasonably exclusive too, means you’ll stand out from the crowd of stereotypical MX-5’s and SLK’s that flood the so-called “gay convertible” market. I loved it, and so did anyone else who came to look at it, sit in it or go for the proverbial spin.

At R593 800 with the automatic transmission and satnav, it may sound expensive. But honestly, just go and drive this car. Feel the power, hear the noise and watch the heads turn. The 370Z is, as a whole, brilliant. It’s raw, it’s fast and it’s flashy. Brush your teeth before you head out though; you’ll be smiling for a very long time!

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Latest Comments
  1. Marius
    Reply -
    • Brent
      Reply -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend