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Nissan 350Z

2004-01-27 13:12

Wilmer Muller

There is nothing to argue about: - Nissan's latest Z-car is a seductive machine. The 350Z has desirable looks, and the experience is even more desirable. And pricing for this V6 is right on the button.

The price tag for the 350Z is a competitive R385 000, placing it well below the recently introduced Chrysler Crossfire. Nissan is also targeting the iconic, and still popular, Audi TT, and the much-acclaimed new Mazda RX-8.

With its long bonnet and two-seater configuration Nissan's new sports coupé is very much a reincarnation of the original Z-car, the Datsun 240Z. There is also a clear influence of the 1989 300ZX - the last Z-car which went out of production in 1995.

But as we know, a Z-car is not just about looks?

V6 muscle

Under the 350Z's bonnet is some potent V6 muscle, which drives the rear wheels via a slick six-speed gearbox. It will take you with ease to a limited top speed of 250km/h. A sprint from standstill to 100km/h will happen in a quick 5.9 seconds

The normally-aspirated 3.5-litre unit pumps out 206 kW at a rev-happy 6 200 r/min and torque is 363 Nm at an equally-racy 4 800 r/min.

This V6 is more than willing to show its sporty genes. This entertaining engine also has a nice brutal growl to it

There is more than enough power throughout the rev range, although it seems as if it takes a bit of effort for the 350Z to pull away. But once you get going and you slide through its six gears, you realise there is a lot of Zest!

When you push the 350Z through a series of fast bends you experience that this machine has loads of road grip. Its fine balance through turns is very impressive.

The overall ride is firm but satisfactory, and the accurate steering offers plenty of feedback.

And when the laws of physics dictate that a loss of grip is imminent, the Vehicle Dynamic Control will stabilise the car with a mixture of individual wheel braking, and/or a reduction in engine power

Stiff suspension

The stiff suspension features Nissan's patent multi-link front, plus a multi-link rear which sees track rods and a split damper and a spring setup.

Although this setup works well when tackling bends at high speeds ,it gets a bit jiggly on city streets where you all of a sudden become aware of uneven surfaces.

The 350Z features forged aluminium 18-inch wheels - eight inches wide both front and rear. The front tyres, however, are narrower than the rear - 225/45 versus 245/45 Bridgestones.

When the time comes to slow down again, 350Z drivers will have the best hardware at their disposal.

The brakes are from Brembo, one of the leading suppliers to the world of Formula One, and the system is similar to the one fitted to the giant-killing Skyline R34 GT-R.

Anti-lock braking with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake pressure assistance means the 350Z has a full armoury of electronics to complement the hardware in the front line of stopping duties.


When you get into the 350Z's low seating position the car's striking "Z" badge on the steering wheel greets you. You also are welcomed by some nice sporty touches like the brushed aluminium pedals and circular dials.

The full leather interior complements the striking look of the car's exterior, and you still get that typical Z car racing feeling behind the wheel.

The interior design is an example of THE way a sports car should be set up: everything is visible and all controls are easy to operate.

Although the instrument panel has a nice layout and is practical, the downside is that the plastics used are still not the best in the business.

Some people may also find that the 350Z isn't the easiest car to reverse because of limited rear-view.

The 350Z comes well-equipped. As mentioned it features a leather interior, which is available with a choice in black or a very attractive burnt orange.

A BOSE sound system with seven speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer linked to a six-disk front-loading CD-player is also standard. Other convenience items include climate control, electric seats, electric windows and heated exterior mirrors.

There are six airbags to keep occupants safe in case of an accident.


There is no doubt the 350Z is a head turner. This is a fast and stylish sports car that lives up to the Z-car legend.

With its bloodcurdling V6 engine, striking looks and a sporty interior, the 350Z offers what many sports car shoppers are want.

Overall it is a refined car and is a worthy newcomer to the sports coupé segment as an alternative to the Audi TT, Chrysler Crossfire and Mazda RX-8.

Putting the 350Z through it paces one realises that like its Z car predecessors, the 350Z has a lot of character and performance to make it an icon in its own right.

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