Weidel on Wheels: 370Z is everything a sports car should be

Nissan icon has plenty of power and 'scary good' handling
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Although it was long ago, I still remember my college friend’s very cool sports car and the accompanying envy that went along with it for me. Although the Datsun 240Z was owned by Alan Ameche Jr., whose father was the 1954 Heisman Trophy winner who scored one of football’s most famous touchdowns -- a 1-yard run in overtime to give the Baltimore Colts a victory in the 1958 NFL Championship game -- being a passenger in that sleek sports car was cooler than knowing I was driving around with the son of Alan “The Horse” Ameche. The memory of those innocent college days came back recently while driving the Nissan 370Z. In case you didn’t know, Datsun became Nissan and the Japanese automaker smartly kept the legacy of the “Z” car going. The vehicle is now four decades old. The 370Z is the type of car you want to drive for no other reason than its fun. Commute to work, short errand to the store, or a day of simply cruising with no true destination in mind, it’s all good in the Z. And with its large, 19-gallon tank and 18 to 25 miles per gallon fuel economy, one can seemingly drive all day with no worries about a refill. The Nissan 370Z coupe is a classic two-seater with rear-wheel drive and looks stylishly long and sleek. It possesses a very high performing 3.7-liter, V-6 engine with 350 horsepower, has a light curb weight of 3,000 pounds and actually is not all that expensive, with a starting price of just under $30,000 for the base model. The Roadster touring model that was test driven here has its share of extras and goes for $41,820. The Roadster’s convertible model automatically lowers the top down in roughly 20 seconds, and then you’re off to the races, assuming you want to be, and have enough self-control that you won’t drive foolishly in a vehicle that goes 0 to 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds. Yeah, the 370Z is quick and fast, and also handles scary good. It’s scary in the fact that it gives the driver the confidence that one can maneuver proficiently in any situation, whether it is a tight turn or wiggling in and out of traffic. Like most sports cars, this one is made for driving, not hauling around stuff. Still, it’s roomy for two passengers and the small trunk can be accommodating on a small grocery store run. Other negatives include a somewhat noisy engine and sizable blind spots due to thick rear roof pillars that can make passing a tentative act at times. __________ 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster Touring Price: $41,820 Power: 3.7-liter, V-6, 332 horsepower Mileage estimate: 18 mpg city; 25 mpg highway Standard features include: Power-operated soft top convertible; 18-inch alloy wheels; xenon headlights; heated side mirrors; cruise keyless ignition and entry; automatic climate control; tilt steering wheel; traction and stability control; eight-way manual driver seat; leather and faux suede upholstery; power seat adjustments; heated seats; rear cargo cover; Bose stereo with six speakers, two subwoofers, in-dash six-CD/MP3 changer, satellite radio