2008-07-04

Further automotive observations.

For some reason Hertz haven't had any coupe versions of the 350Z the last few times I've rented, so I've had to make do with the roadster version.

Convertibles are not exactly my favorite. Most of the time it means that the car is compromised -- that it is heavier and/or has less rigidity. It has been a while since I drove the coupe so direct comparison is a bit hard, but I did have to execute at least one sharp manouver (to avoid a car that slammed on the brakes in front of me) the last time I drove a 350z roadster and although the car complied, it did feel a bit soft. I'm not sure if that was due to lack of torsional rigidity or just crap anti-roll bars. Something that is billed as a "sports car" should not squirm like that. But the car did respond and that's why I didn't have an accident.

In the 350Z roadster you have a slightly bigger blind-spot. In fact the blind spot is somewhat larger than a full car length, which makes driving in busy, multi-lane traffic a bit ... interesting.
I could have taken the top down to get a better view, but I'd just feel like an idiot. Especially with that lady trapped inside the little box (GPS) constantly yelling at me for my inability to navigate in purely two-dimensional landscapes. There's nothing quite as uncool as coming to a halt at a traffic light while the lady yammers on about "making a legal U-turn". Everywhere looks exactly the same to me in the bay area. I am used to european roads -- we didn't have rulers, so we don't have straight roads here. We'd just pave whatever trails our livestock would make, so roads snake lazily around elevations in the landscape providing ample visual cues as to where you are. Things are three-dimensional.

Oh, and of course, it didn't help that the car was painted in a color generally referred to as "morning urine yellow". It was rather ghastly, but at least it wasn't too hard to find in the parking lot at night.

I still like the sound and feel of the engine though. It has a very responsive 3.5 litre V6 and the exhaust note has that wonderfully crisp note you usually get from Italian V8s or german inline six engines. The angry snarls gives me goosebumps. Too bad it had an automatic gearbox. It definitively takes away some of the joy of driving when you place a moist piece of cheese between that lovely engine and the wheels.

When some time in the future we all drive electrical cars, I am going to miss the wonderful sound of frivolous engines. Ah, guilty pleasures.

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