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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
February 18, 2005
Vehicle Overview Only a handful of cars become legendary in their own time, and Nissan's original Z-car falls into that category. First seen in 1969 as the Datsun 240Z, the two-seat hatchback was the first Japanese-built sports car to sell strongly in the United States.
Nissan's modern-day 350Z coupe went on sale as a 2003 model. Like the original, the 350Z has rear-wheel drive and a six-cylinder engine.
A commemorative 35th Anniversary edition is available for the 2005 model year and has a 300-horsepower V-6, a chin spoiler, five-spoke 18-inch wheels and unique two-tone seats. A new 350Z Track MT model will also be added. For the 2005 model year, all 350Z coupes get a tire-pressure monitor, heated mirrors and a front-seat lifter. Automatic-transmission models add downshift rev matching for smoother shifts. Clutch-pedal effort has been reduced on models with the manual transmission, and Ultra Yellow is a new body color.
Enthusiast editions get traction control, xenon headlights, aluminum pedals and a limited-slip differential. Touring models have a seven-speaker Bose stereo, leather-appointed upholstery and heated seats. The Performance edition includes Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system, xenon headlights and 18-inch tires. Track models have front and rear spoilers, forged-aluminum wheels and Brembo brakes. A base coupe is also available. A 350Z Roadster joined the coupe for 2004. (Skip to details on the: 350Z Roadster)
Exterior The 350Z has a thoroughly modern design, but styling cues adapted from the original 240Z include a long-nose short-deck profile, a triangular cabin form and lines that extend from the arch-shaped roof to the hatchback opening. The wheels were pushed toward the corners to emphasize nimbleness. Standard tires are 17 inches in diameter, but certain models get 18-inch tires.
Interior The 350Z seats two occupants. Considerable aluminum is used in the cockpit. Three gauge pods are installed on the instrument panel, and the steering wheel and gauges move together as a unit. Nissan's navigation system is optional. An integrated aluminum rear-suspension strut tower brace featuring the Z logo can be seen from outside coupe models.
Under the Hood Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 287 hp and 274 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed-automatic transmission and a six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox are available. In standard form, the V-6 in 35th Anniversary and Track models produces 300 hp but only 260 pounds-feet of torque.
Safety Antilock brakes with brake assist are standard. Side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are optional in coupes; side-impact airbags are optional on convertibles. Traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control are installed on certain models.
Driving Impressions Simply put, the 350Z is a sweet machine. Steering could hardly be more precise, confident and satisfying. Even though the suspensions are defiantly taut, the ride is enjoyable. The 350Z maintains outstanding control and avoids overreaction. A little hop occurs only in very quick curves. Maneuverability and stability are top-notch.
The V-6 yields plenty of response. Because you can feel the engine as the revs build, there's a tendency to either hold back on the gas or shift to a higher gear a little sooner than necessary.
The manual gearshift has short throws and a short lever, and it snicks masterfully and positively through the ratios. The clutch behaves in near-perfect unison. The exhaust sound is distinctive but appealing. The seat bolsters are really snug.
350Z Roadster An open Roadster offered only in Enthusiast and Touring trim levels joined the coupe as a 2004 model. The automatic top goes down in 20 seconds and contains a heated glass rear window. Trunk capacity in the Roadster is 4.1 cubic feet. There's no glove box, but the Roadster gets a lockable floor box for storage. A new Grand Touring model joins the two previous Roadster models for 2005. It gets a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission, Brembo brakes, Vehicle Dynamic Control and 18-inch alloy wheels. Roadster changes for 2005 are comparable to those listed for the 350Z coupe. Back to top