2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster road test
Holy performance! 370Z Roadster is one devilish beast
Photo: Michael Bettencourt
Some cars are just evil. Fast sports cars especially, beating up their willing occupants with a masochistic ride and remorseless engine roar, their enchanting looks and thoroughbred-direct responses casting a spell over wide-eyed enthusiasts. These rides are four-wheeled narcissists, rolling along as automotive sculpture, unconcerned with banal practicalities, their main aim to look sexy. And they know it.
The 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster is just such an automotive beast. It features a punishing suspension that will have no mercy on your kidneys, little space for its two occupants or their cargo, and lots of engine and wind noise, especially at high revs. Pulling up to a local church to snap some shots of this Z’s alluring shape, the fading light dancing around its seductively curved rear haunches, I wasn’t sure which of us needed to go to confession there, the car itself for its many sins, or me for my blind infatuation.
Z-car has a long history of infatuating enthusiasts at a reasonable price
The Z-car has been infatuating many enthusiasts for more than 40 years, since the first 1970 240Z two-seater introduced North America to the concept of a fun Japanese sports car. This was long before Japan-based car companies had emerged as a market force on these shores, their products generally considered cheap, boring econoboxes. But the lithe and inexpensive six-cylinder Datsun sports car was one of the few beacons of enthusiast light in the dark ages of a decade marked by two major oil crises, the extinction of burly V8 muscle cars, and the drastic downsizing of engines, weight and driving fun.
Over the next 20 years, the Z-car became larger, pricier and more luxurious with each succeeding generation, up to the demise of the 300ZX in 1997, two years before the troubled Nissan connected with Renault to form their global alliance. Nissan vowed to revive the Z and reverse those bloating tendencies, offering up a less expensive, smaller and lighter 350Z for 2003. And the 370Z that debuted in 2009 was smaller and less expensive still, with the 2013 370Z Roadster starting at $47,478, compared to starting prices in the low-to-mid 50s for its base 350Z convertible predecessor.
This particular 370Z Roadster came equipped with a Sport package, pushing up its as-tested price to $53,620 after freight and delivery charges. This is by no means cheap, but in an automotive landscape where a four-cylinder Mazda MX-5 or Mini droptop can easily reach 50 large, that’s pretty decent value. Whether because this sports car has changed little in the four years since its debut, or the looming start of fall, or the drop in value of the Japanese yen, there are reportedly various Roadster rebates out there now that can combine for as much as $8,000, if you can find a reasonably flexible dealer. This kind of price chop would take this Roadster from decent if impractical sports car value to screaming performance bargain, if you can live with it long-term.
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