The dynamic driving experience that for 35 years has been associated with the Z® comes equipped with a little less these days – it’s topless. First introduced as a 2004 model, the 350Z Roadster features a power-operated soft top with glass rear window, which transforms from top-up to top-down in about 20 seconds.
“The Z® Roadster offers a fresh look at the modern convertible, the styling is an updated take on the classic roadster, but the heart is all Z®,” said Mark McNabb, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. “The Z® Roadster further expresses Nissan’s commitment to offering bold, exciting, performance vehicles.”
New for 2005 is a 350Z Roadster Grand Touring Edition with 6-speed manual, which is scheduled to be available in late 2004. It comes equipped with Brembo® brakes, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and 18-inch aluminum–alloy wheels.
All 2005 350Z Roadster models receive a number of other enhancements, including standard Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS), driver’s seat front and rear lifter (except for net seat design), reduced clutch pedal effort for manual transmission models and downshift rev matching for automatic transmission models, heated outside mirrors and a faster navigation system processor for improved route calculation times (for optional navigation system).
Also new for 2005 is an Ultra Yellow exterior color, which utilizes a new high-luminance and high-chroma pearl pigment and three layers of top coat (with separate color pigment and pearl pigment layers) to create an almost “liquid” surface appearance.
The Z® Roadster’s fully automatic soft top features a heated glass rear window, which helps provide clearer visibility in adverse weather conditions. And, unlike other convertibles in its class, the top stows compactly under a lightweight powered tonneau cover, completely hiding the top when down.
Activating the top is a simple process. Push the brake pedal and hold the button (located to the left of the steering column) and the top opens or closes.
The top is released from or secured to the windshield header with a unique three-lock, single latch located directly above the middle windshield area. The three-lock, single latch system was created to give a more secure seal, while also making the closing process easier. The Z® Roadster is the only convertible in its class to offer this type of latch system.
The FM (Front Mid-ship) platform, used on the 350Z Coupe, is adopted for use in the Z® Roadster. Structural reinforcements were incorporated to strengthen the Z® Roadster unibody, including a center floor V-shaped cross bar connecting the side sills and a front A-shaped cross bar reinforcing the front end. Additional reinforcement was added at the door openings and a triple-member was added to the seating area connecting the sides to the floor structure to provide enhanced rigidity.
Also during the design phase of the Z® Roadster, engineers devoted countless hours conducting wind tunnel tests. These tests allowed the engineers to adjust the Roadster’s design to route air flow to help minimize interior noise and turbulence while maximizing downforce at highway speeds.
A key component to reducing interior noise is a tempered glass wind deflector located between the seats that directs wind out and over the cabin. Seatbelt fasteners were also added to help keep seatbelts from flapping in the wind. As a result, the Z® Roadster is among the leading competitors for low interior noise with the top down.
Contemporary Styling, Inside and Out
Unique to all convertibles is the high visibility of the interior. Knowing this, the designers of the Z® Roadster put a heavy emphasis on the interior design of the car.
“The Z® Roadster incorporates a seamless flow between the exterior and interior of the vehicle,” said McNabb. “We fused the two together to create one harmoniously visual design.”
Since the heart and soul of the Z® is performance, the design, inside and out, needs to reflect that. Like the Z® Coupe, the instrument panel features three gauge pods consisting of the drive computer, oil pressure gauge and voltmeter, as well as modern touches such as an optional navigation system with 7-inch display. The door vents and center console have a solid, chiseled-from-a-block-of-aluminum look.
The driver’s seat of the Z® Roadster is tailored for performance. The base cushion is firm and long for additional support, while bolster cutouts under the thighs optimize pedal operation. The seatback is sculpted with large “wings,” designed to help secure drivers during acceleration. The upper side bolster is sculpted in the middle for easy shifting and steering, while the lower side bolster is designed wider and deeper to keep the driver squarely behind the wheel.
Also offered on the Z® Roadster are unique, Burnt Orange ventilated leather-trimmed net seats. The net-style seats are made with a woven seat cloth center insert and feature an opening in the seatback so that the driver can feel a wind flow during top-down driving. A built-in seat heater is also available for those sundown rides.
A lockable luggage box capable of storing a briefcase is standard. There is also sufficient luggage space in the trunk even though the top is stored in the trunk area when down. The trunk has up to 4.1 cubic feet of useable room for storage.
Performance Worthy of Z® Status
The Z® Roadster shares all of the hardtop Z®’s key performance features. Power is provided by the 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 engine used in the Z® Coupe, producing 287 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque, a power range that comes as a result of the engine’s intake port design and Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) technology. This enables the engine to deliver not only outstanding start-off acceleration and high-speed passing performance, but also torque characteristics suitable for city driving.
Drivability has been further improved for use in the Z® Coupe and Roadster by adopting an electronically controlled throttle, and the use of a highly rigid cylinder block combines with other measures to produce engine sounds worthy of a sports car.
Suspension for the rear-wheel drive Z® Roadster is a 4-wheel independent design. Both 6-speed close-ratio manual and 5-speed automatic transmissions are available.
Models and Options
The 2005 350Z Roadster is offered in three well-equipped models – 350Z Roadster Enthusiast, 350Z Roadster Touring and 350Z Roadster Grand Touring. Standard 350Z Roadster Enthusiast features include power seats, power-operated soft top, electrically operated storage cover, rear wind deflector, 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, automatic climate control, a choice of 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission and more.
The 350Z Roadster Touring model features a Bose® audio system with 6-disc CD changer and seven speakers, leather-appointed seats and standard side-impact air bags.
The 350Z Roadster Grand Touring model, which is available only with the 6-speed manual transmission, adds Brembo® brakes, Vehicle Dynamic Control and 18-inch wheels and tires.
Only a few options are offered for the well-equipped 350Z Roadster. Side-impact supplemental air bags are available on the Enthusiast model and standard on the Touring and Grand Touring models, 18-inch alloy wheels are available for Enthusiast and Touring models, and ventilated leather-trimmed net seats are available for the Touring and Grand Touring models. The DVD-based navigation system is available on the Touring model only.