(The Nissan 370Z parked at the famous, "haunted" Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO)
As road trips go, Estes Park, Colorado is about two hours from my home – so it’s not much work to get there. Taking the back roads through Boulder, Colorado can add an additional hour to the journey and treat you with a spectacular series of views.
Usually, I drive with the family which necessitates a larger, less exciting vehicle. It is the same chestnut for most family types. I have a suggestion for those of you who actually enjoy the drive as much as the destination – take the back route and drive a convertible.
My choice was the rockin’ 2011 Nissan 370Z Convertible.
Nissan builds friggn’ amazing V6s. Don’t believe me? Take a peek at their outrageous GTR. Still, this current itineration of this mill is rather old – so one might expect that it’s lost some power.
Hell NO, it’s got gobs of it!
The 332 horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 has plenty of go-go sauce for this under 3,500 pound machine. Even at high altitude, (about a mile and change up) I was ripping through 0 to 60 mph in around 6-seconds – – in the automatic!
The handling is sensational, with excellent steering feel.
I charged the mountain passes leading to Estes Park, Colorado faster than I’ve ever driven in a convertible before. It sticks like glue and, unlike so many convertibles, there is very little cowl-shake. Despite the tightness of the sport-tuned suspension, most of the car was composed. For some reason, it was an easier, quieter ride than its hardtop brethren.
It’s a personal thing I know, but I like stubby noses. If you pick a German Sheppard, I’ll pick a Bulldog – I just like that style. The nose on the Z has never fully appealed to me given its length. Still, the new headlight/taillight treatment and the recent restyling look mighty good.
For around 42K – you could do al lot worse.
As I crested an overlooking pass that drops into the Estes Park valley, we were shockingly faced with stopped traffic. I was moving at a dangerous velocity and slammed on my brakes – the 370Z can stop from 60 to 0 mph in about 106 feet. That’s impressive and can be painful when the passenger doesn’t know about the emergency braking maneuver.
My brain felt like it was trying to escape the top of my skull as I came within an inch of slamming my face into the steering wheel. Then, by some sort of brazen instinct, I slammed on the accelerator, spun the 370Z’s booty around and zoomed off in the opposite direction. This maneuver first shoved my head against my buddy, then (after punching the accelerator) hard against the headrest.
A voice next to me spat, “Hey, that friggin’ hurt!” – my passenger was rather irate.
Five minutes later, I was on a back road avoiding the traffic and (more importantly) any “Jon-law” who may have seen my foolish maneuver. By the time we reached the hotel, my neck was killing me. Despite the agony, I was simply chuffed with the excellent grip and power of this machine.
The interior looks okay with plenty of higher end gizmos mixing it up with cheap-looking plastics. Great seats, even for my big booty. Storage is (very) little at best.
When all was said and done, I still felt the overall ride of the 370Z was an improvement over the old one, but there was not enough in this package to make me want to shell out BMW or Porsche (the base model Boxter if you’re curious) money for a Nissan product. It’s good, but not exactly amazing. Still, with my neck as a testament to the potential savagery of this convertible – I might change my mind for a few grand less.
Here's another Nissan that we think will sell like coke to Paris Hilton!
Words and photos by Nathan Adlen