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Nissan 350Z

Z33 350Z

1 Feb 2003

The reborn Z-car returned as the Z33 350Z in February 2003, after a five-and-a-half year hiatus for the famous Nissan sports car.

Under the stewardship of Renault, Nissan was as lean and mean as the 1468kg 350Z, devising a range of models built on the rear-drive Z-car’s platform.

It was a long-time coming though, having a couple of false starts in concept car form before the Californian designers finally nailed it.

The result is a head-turner that borrows the odd theme from other sports coupes.

Although Nissan says there are 240Z styling elements in the new car, they’re only really noticeable from the inside, specifically with the dashboard’s binnacles.

Underneath, it’s a focussed and almost raw sports car. With 206kW of power and 363Nm of torque from Nissan’s venerable VQ35 3.5-litre V6, this latest Z-car has punch, poise and class - and it still costs a lot less than comparable European sports coupes.

Gearbox choices are a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

Sophisticated traction and stability controls, multi-link suspension and quick-ratio steering help, as does a super-stiff body.

For the first time Aussie buyers could also choose a Z-car roadster, from October 2003. It comes complete with an electrically operated canvas roof and two seats.

In March 2007, Nissan released yet another 350Z update, with an engine transplant that the company says is almost 80 per cent new.

Fans of the current Z33 series 350Z will spot the incorporation of a bonnet bulge, shrouding the new engine that boasts a handy boost in power and torque output.

Dubbed VQ35HR (HR for Higher Response), the latest 350Z powerplant again is a 3498cc 3.5-litre double overhead cam 24-valve aluminium alloy V6 with continuous variable timing control.

The result is a 9kW spike in power – now rated at 230kW at 6800rpm – and a 5Nm rise in torque, channelling 358Nm at 4800rpm.

Importantly, the five-speed automatic 350Z – available only in base Touring guise since the MY06 upgrade – now equals its six-speed manual 350Z Touring and sportier Track counterparts.

Compared to the MY06 automatic – with its 206kW at 6200rpm and 363Nm at 4800rpm – power jumps 24kW, although torque now slides down by 5Nm.

Other changes include larger headrests that now feature an active anti-whiplash restraint action, three new colours and revised Bridgestone tyres that are claimed to be suppler and quieter.

They build on the subtle exterior styling tweaks (bumpers and tail-lights), improved interior trim and upgraded brake and suspension components introduced to the 350Z in December 2005 as part of the MY06 facelift.

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