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New York show: Zed drops its top

Simply Zed: The new 370Z Roadster shows off its form in the US, but won’t be seen in Australia for one year.

Nissan chooses a fabric roof and single-action operation for its new 370Z Roadster

8 Apr 2009

NISSAN has opted for a folding fabric roof with one-touch automatic operation for its highly-anticipated new 370Z Roadster, which was revealed this morning Australian time at the New York auto show, just five months after the Coupe debuted at the Los Angeles show.

Rather than follow the trend to retracting steel hardtops, the Nissan engineers opted for the lighter weight, faster operation and less compromised luggage capacity that comes with having an insulated fabric roof instead.

While the new 370Z will be launched in Coupe form in Australia next month, the Roadster will take a little longer to get here, being scheduled to arrive in March or April 2010 – about nine months after it goes on sale in the United States.

It is expected to carry a similar premium over the hardtop (about $9000) as the outgoing 350Z range and will be similarly specified to the 370Z Coupe.

The 350Z Roadster won praise for its styling and, similarly, the sleek new 370Z Roadster looks like it was designed as a convertible from the outset, not just a Coupe with the roof cut off.

The automatic latch system is a step forward over the manual operation of the previous Z set-up, which required the driver or passenger locking (or unlocking) the roof to the windscreen header.

It results in a 20-second operation at the touch of a switch on the centre console next to the handbrake, or via buttons on each door.

The roof folds away behind the front seats and is stored under a body-coloured steel tonneau.

12 center imageNissan North America vice-president Al Castignetti said the new car was more refined than any previous Z and offered an array of technology and convenience features, including the first-ever Z Roadster-available heating and cooling-ventilated net seats.

“As expected, the 370Z Roadster delivers an exhilarating connection to the air, wind and environment on top of the new Z Coupe’s exceptional levels of performance,” he said.

“But perhaps unexpected for a car this sporty is its greatly enhanced refinement and quality – as seen in features such as its one-touch, auto-locking convertible top and beautifully crafted interior.

“The soft-top roof was designed with an emphasis on three key areas: to provide a sleek silhouette matching the new Z’s stunning styling with the top up or down, to offer easy single-action open-close operation, and to provide an enjoyable top-down experience with reduced wind turbulence and all-climate driver/passenger comfort.

“With convertible top in the closed position, the design provides a sophisticated sloped-back appearance, the perfect balance between the soft top and the Z body design.

“When in the down position, the convertible top is concealed beneath a full body-colour hard tonneau cover, which extends forward to help create the Z Roadster’s classic ‘double cockpit’ style interior.” As well as being fully lined to reduce interior noise and the effects of the weather, the black cloth roof contains a larger glass rear window than the outgoing model.

The body features a shortened windscreen and a more bulbous rear end than the Coupe, but the biggest changes are underneath, with structural reinforcements in the A-pillars and side sills to regain the rigidity lost by removing the roof.

A glass wind deflector is fitted as standard between the twin rollover protection bars to reduce cabin turbulence.

Other interior features include Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and a new navigation system with four-times higher screen resolution, in addition to the second-generation Roadster-specific “net seats” that offer optional integrated heating and cooling functions for the first time.

Of course, the Roadster is mechanically identical to the Coupe, riding on the same wheelbase (10cm shorter than the 350Z) and employing a carbon-fibre composite driveshaft. It rides on 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels that are eight inches wide at the front and nine inches at the rear.

The 3.7-litre V6 engine produces 245kW of power at 7000rpm and 363Nm of torque at 5200rpm and is matched to a revised six-speed manual gearbox that blips the throttle for upshifts and downshifts or a new seven-speed paddle-shift operated automatic transmission that replaces the 350Z’s five-speed auto.

Standard features include bi-Xenon headlights, six airbags, active head restraints, electronic stability control and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.

Read more:

Melbourne show: Nissan gets sexy

First official look: Nissan lays its next Z bare

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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