Only a handful of cars become legendary in their own time, and Nissan's original Z-car is in 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 2007, it gets a new 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6.
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.
For 2007, mounted on top of that long nose is a bulging hood that looks as if the engine jumped off its mounts and bumped into the hood. The bulginess looks out of place on base models, but may look proportional when teamed with the optional front and rear spoilers.
The wheels are pushed toward the corners to emphasize nimbleness. For 2007, standard wheels are 18 inches in diameter. An optional lightweight forged-alloy wheel package is available on the coupe and features 18-inch wheels in the front and 19-inchers in the back. The optional wheels are an inch wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear. The increased width provides greater road-holding capabilities during performance driving.
Three new exterior colors are available: Carbon Silver, San Marino Blue and Solar Orange.
The 350Z seats two. 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.
Bluetooth hands-free phone compatibility is offered in Touring and Grand Touring coupes.
Under the Hood
Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 306 hp and 268 pounds-feet of torque. The newfound power is a product of a dual-inlet air-intake system, variable exhaust cam timing and a higher compression ratio. The enhancements allow the 3.5-liter engine to redline at 7,500 rpm, up 500 rpm from last year's manual-equipped 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 airbags are optional in coupes; side-impact airbags are standard on convertibles. Traction control is standard on all models, and an electronic stability system is standard on Grand Touring models with the manual transmission. All models are equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
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 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 it has a lockable floor box for storage.
The cloth top is now available in gray as well as black; a blue cloth top is no longer available.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|David Thomas||Cars.com National||May 30, 2007|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||January 31, 2007|
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