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 U.S.
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.
For 2006, the 3.5-liter V-6 in all 350Zs equipped with the six-speed-manual transmission is rated at 300 horsepower — up from 287 hp, which is still the horsepower rating for 350Zs with the automatic transmission. The front bumper, headlights and grille have been updated, and LED brake lights are installed. A new vehicle-speed-sensitive steering system is used.
Three new exterior colors are available: Silver Alloy, Magnetic Black and Interlagos Fire.
(Skip to details on the: 350Z Roadster)
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. For 2006, standard tires are 18 inches in diameter.
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. The climate control system has been revised for 2006.
Under the Hood
Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 develops either 287 or 300 hp, depending on the model. A five-speed-automatic transmission and a six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox are available.
Antilock brakes with brake assist are standard. Side-impact 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.
Simply put, the 350Z is a sweet machine. Steering could hardly be more precise, confident and satisfying. The 350Z maintains outstanding control and avoids overreaction, but the suspension is defiantly taut. A little hop occurs only in very quick curves. Maneuverability and stability are top-notch.
The V-6 yields plenty of response. You can feel the engine as the revs build, so 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 seats are comfortable.
An open Roadster 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. Back to top
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