Drive: Roadster vs Cabriolet

2010-07-02 12:46

Nissan 370Z Roadster
The 370Z Roadster is a true sports machine of the highest

calibre, so unsurprisingly it’s not a sociable car. It’s a two-seater for

single youngsters who want to stand out, or better put, the type of person who

doesn’t like to converse much.

It’s nearly impossible to hear your passenger speak above the sound

of the car and the wind when the roof is down. But honestly who cares? It’s a

sports car meant to be driven and enjoyed.

The interior space is a bit tight and the roof operates quite

quickly when standing still. Don’t bother to do it while driving because it only

works at the speed of 5km/h or less. You might as well just pull over to the

side of the road if you want the top up or down. The show-offs will be thrilled

to know that it can be operated by a button on the remote.

I still prefer the original 350Z because the steering was heavier.

The power was raw and you felt like you were driving a genuine beast. Matching

its Coupe sibling in styling and power figures, the Roadster also has 245kW of power pushing from the 3.7 V6

naturally aspirated engine. The engines are mated with either a six-speed

synchromatch manual gearbox or the ­seven-speed auto with paddle shifts.

And while the drive is still enjoyable, the steering response is

rather light – meaning when you drive at high speeds the car doesn’t feel stable

on the road, but the steering will listen to and obey your ­commands.

When the roof is back up, wind and road noise is cut out

significantly thanks to the double insulation.

To brave the cold with the top down, you have to put on a warm

jacket, a scarf and gloves to keep you warm – and don’t bother with a cap

because you will lose it.

Boot space suffices and the cubbyhole will take care of your

cellphone, keys or small wallet and there is another small compartment behind

the seats for ­additional storage.

The Roadster practically comes with

all the bells and whistles with the only ­optional extra being the SatNav

navigation system which will cost you R20 000. My advise would be to rather get

yourself a Garmin or TomTom and save money.

I chuckled when I was

testing this car. As I approached a silver Mercedes-Benz SL with the number plate “wuzurdaddy” I tapped on the throttle a bit and

said to myself “this is your daddy right here”!

The E500 Cabriolet is probably one of the most sophisticated

convertibles on the market. It has all the fancy trims and manages to keep

occupants warm during winter months while the top is down.

The car is classy and oozes sex appeal and it will even make the

stuffiest fuddy duddy look ultra cool. Driving it, you want to be seen, music

blaring or not.

You can have a decent conversation at high speed, because it has

such advanced air conditioning combined with the aircap and airscarf that you

feel like an egg in a hen’s nest. The aircap is a vent which pops out when the

roof is down and acts as a deflector to keep out the wind and keep the cabin

warm. The neckscarf works in conjunction with the aircap. A second deflector is

between the rear seats and raises automatically when the rear seatbelts are

activated. There are large vents in the front ­passenger seats which blow out

hot air to the neck and shoulder area, working much like a seat-warmer. So with

the air conditioner, seat warmers, the aircap and the neckscarf working you

don’t need a thick jacket when driving with the top down on a chilly winter’s


The E500 comes standard with seven airbags – front airbags and

sidebags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag on the driver’s side, and


Other safety features include a roll-over protection system

integrated into the back head restraints that deploys the roll-over bar a

fraction of a second after the airbag sensors detect a crash. It also includes a

host of other driver assist programmes.

Even though the car’s 5.5 V8 engine pushes out 285kW of power and

530Nm of torque, it’s the kind of car you want to cruise and be seen in. And

there is no doubt that heads will turn. The drive is smooth, powerful and

comfortable – ­precisely what one would expect from the German automobile


For car sound fundis these Cabriolets come with a Harman Kardon

surround-sound system with 12 speakers.

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