The success of the 350Z should have come as no surprise. The company was always best-known for its no-frills models like Micra but it does have quite a sporting pedigree too.

Cars like the 240Z, 260Z and 280Z were highly regarded as capable and affordable sports cars which injected a little excitement into the workaday brand. Now Nissan has recreated some of that interest with the 350Z, a car which can claim to be the sexiest Nissan ever. It's a value-for-money sports car with a superb engine and a great chassis.

And now they've gone a step further and unveiled a drop-top version which is even more exciting if a little less attractive to look at. Being a cabriolet, it immediately earns comparisons with highly-regarded models like Audi TT and Chrysler Crossfire.

So, how does the 350Z stand up? Its strong point is its ability.

This is more than just a hairdresser' car. It has an excellent engine and wonderful driving dynamics which bear comparisons to more sporty brands like Audi and BMW.

And while rag-tops are gradually being phased out by folding hard-tops, this machine's fabric roof is excellent. It's simple to operate and looks fine. It also folds into a smaller space than even the best hard-top could manage, meaning there is a larger than expected boot.

It has few shortcomings but you might feel the cabin is a little ordinary, lacking the quality that you might find in a German brand.

I must say that I thought the 350Z was a little expensive when I looked at the price (the range starts at £27,845) but it's actually very competitively priced. It's more expensive than the Chrysler Crossfire but that model isn't a V6. It's cheaper than Audi TT V6s (although the Audi does cost as little as £22,240 for four-cylinder versions).

It must be said, though, that the TT Roadster is based on the old TT and the new TT Roadster doesn't arrive until next spring. Other potential rivals such as Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLK are considerably more.

The rise in quality of small convertibles such as Vauxhall Tigra and various Peugeot models puts pressure on cars like this, but the 350Z is in a different league to those smaller, less powerful models.

While the 350Z convertible is capable, it's also pretty well equipped.

It comes with 18in alloy wheels, climate-control air conditioning, electronic stability programme, Brake Assist and anti-lock brakes.

The test version has the GT Pack which costs £2,500 and includes powered and heated seats, cruise control, six-disc CD, satellite navigation and metallic paint, which is good value.

PRICE: £30,495, The range starts at £27,845.

ENGINE: A 3,498cc unit generating 300PS.

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 155mph, 0 to 60mph in 6.2 seconds.

COSTS: Urban (town) 16.6mpg; extra-urban (country) 31mpg; combined 23.5mpg.

EMISSIONS: 288g/km.

WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles.


All T&A road test vehicles are independently selected and assessments are carried out impartially by members of our own staff who base their opinions only on the vehicle supplied for these purposes by the manufacturer.