Car reviews - Nissan - 350Z - range
A 2006 model upgrade takes the harshness out of owning Nissan's svelte 350Z sporty
16 Dec 2005
By CHRIS HARRIS
WE’VE all seen the television shows. Ugly duckling turns into beautiful swan. Today’s reality shows have unearthed a new type of entertainment. And although we’re definitely not suggesting the Nissan 350Z is an ugly duckling, the previous model did have some flaws. The interior was one the harsh ride another. Previous experience with the Z made it a difficult car to justify owning on a day-to-day basis. But visually the Z is still one of the best looking sportscars around. It’s bold, muscular and has a purposeful stance – all the things sportscar buyers desire. The 3.5-litre V6 was, and remains, one of the best performing engines around. It can, and does match, any six-cylinder out of Europe and shames some the locally offered six-cylinders in Australian cars. With the model year 2006 upgrade, Nissan has taken heed of customer feedback and vastly improved interior ambience and quality, and - more importantly - tweaked the steering and suspension to deliver a car that’s lost none of its prowess but brought a new level of ride and handling compliance. All of which makes it a far more enjoyable driving experience.
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The fourth-generation 350Z arrived in 2003 to an eagerly awaiting fan base. It was fast, charismatic and importantly, looked good. But it was not without its minor flaws, namely interior quality and, in Track versions, a harsh ride. For 2005, the range was augmented with a more powerful 35th Anniversary coupe based on the Track variant. Nissan has been making high-powered rear-wheel drive six-cylinder sports cars since 1970 when the 240Z debuted. It was the pre-eminent high-speed two-seater coupe and became an icon until it was upgraded to 2.6-litres in 1974. Various models followed - the Targa-roof 280ZX in 1979 - became the sole offering, sacrificing some sharpness in exchange for the extra space. The 2.8-litre six lost some of its performance because of emission controls and extra weight. In 1983 the second generation but more-of-the-same 300ZX arrived. It was more boulevardier than hard-edged sports car. Turbo power was available from 1986 but the Zed had lost its edge. The all-new 1989 300ZX represented a return to the original formula, but it was discountinued in 1996 and it took Nissan seven years to bring its Z mojo back.
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