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Beware, this used car wasn’t driven by a sweet granny

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Ted Laturnus/The Globe and Mail

Nissan lowered the price and reduced the size of its 370Z Roadster in 2009 following a major redesign. Strictly a two-seater, it was now shorter and lighter, with a smaller wheelbase and a more affordable sticker price than before.

Content was also up, and there were six different trim levels to choose from, with the top model having a hard-drive navi system, plus larger 19-inch alloy wheels, and upgraded brakes. Differences between the '09 and '10 models are minor.

You could order heated and ventilated bucket seats, an automatic engine rpm synchronizer, rear wind deflector and seven-speed automatic transmission, among other things. Not to mention a power top that could be remotely raised or lowered while you were standing outside the car. This latter function was accomplished via Nissan's Intelligent key fob feature which allowed you to activate the top by pressing a small button located on the driver's side door beside the door lock.

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The power top was made out of cloth, as opposed to vinyl, and it had a glass rear window. Raise/lower time was about 20 seconds accessed via a centre console-located button and everything stashed away neatly in the trunk. It could also be raised or lowered while the car was in motion – up to 5 km/h – while creeping along in traffic, for example, and there was no need to put the car in Park or Neutral or activate the hand-brake before the top would work. And, with the top down, there was still enough cargo area left over in the trunk to accommodate a set of golf clubs.

As for the engine rpm synchronizer, this intriguing little feature instantly revved the engine while downshifting – with either the manual gearbox or automatic gearbox paddle-shifters – to match transmission speed, and gave the car a more hands-on sensation when driving with enthusiasm.

Power was delivered by Nissan's redoubtable VQ-series V-6 which, in this configuration, developed 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Nissan also designed the engine in this iteration to be louder than it used to be, which gave the '10 Z Roadster in particular, a sportier, more visceral feeling. You could choose a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, and this was one of those rare cars that was equally quick with either one. Acceleration times from 0 to 100 km/h were in the five- to six-second range, which made this a very quick automobile.

Handling was outstanding, thanks to increased body stiffness and revised front and rear suspension components and it could handle tight corners, switchback, 180s and slinky S-bends at speeds guaranteed to get the attention of local law enforcement authorities. The 370Z Roadster was arguably one of the best performing models on the market in this price range. That said, prospective buyers should keep in mind that the 370Z is a high-performance automobile and may have been run hard by previous owners. It also requires premium grade gas. Fuel economy ratings, according to Natural Resources Canada, are about the same for the 2010 Roadster and Coupe.

There are no safety recalls to report for the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster or for the hardtop coupe, for that matter. However, the U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 22 technical service bulletins on file and they range from unco-operative door locks to issues with the navi system software, to the tire-pressure monitoring light flashing randomly, to unreliable xenon headlights to my favourite: "Engine oil level is low. There is unusual noise." No kidding.

Consumer Reports is not too fond of this one. It gets poor marks in paint and trim, audio equipment, body squeaks and rattles, and the engine cooling system. Although it likes the handling and braking of the 2010 Zed, the magazine gives this one a "much worse than average" overall rating. Comments from owners: "Clunky convertible top" and "Noisy cabin." The latter complaint was a common one for this car with the top up, incidentally and, in fact, the 370Z Roadster is quieter in operation with its top down.

From a base price of just less than $47,000 in 2010, the 370Z Roadster is fetching anywhere on the low- to mid-$30,000 range these days, depending upon extras.

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Tech specs

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Original Base Price: $46,998; Black Book: $37,075; Red Book: $32,475

Engine: 3.7-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 332 hp/270 lb-ft

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic/six-speed manual

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Drive: Rear-wheel

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.9 city/8.1 (manual trans.) Premium fuel.

Alternatives:Mazda Miata, Porsche Boxster S, BMW Z4, Audi TT Roadster, Chevrolet Corvette, Mercedes-Benz SLK

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