Nissan 350Z, launched 2003
It might be the last letter in the alphabet, but Z is the first that comes to mind when thinking of the great sports cars Nissan has made over the years.
It came into being with the great Datsun 240Z sports coupe in the early 1970s and has continued to identify the company’s sports cars since.
Today it is used on the 350Z that first hit our roads in 2003.
With two doors and seating for two, the 350Z is owned by those without kids, or those who want a second fun car for the weekends.
The 350Z range consisted of three models: two coupes and a roadster.
The Touring Coupe was tailored for those who wanted performance motoring with a slightly softer edge than its Track cousin.
It came with leather trim, drilled alloy pedals, Bose sound system with six-stack CD player, and 17in alloy wheels.
The Track Coupe had all that, but a sportier edge with 18in alloy wheels, bigger disc brakes and electronic stability control.
The Roadster could be transformed from a comfy coupe to an open-top cruiser at the push of a button.
The 350Z’s power came from a 3.5-litre double overhead camshaft V6 delivering 206kW at 6200 revs and 363Nm at 4800 revs.
Down low, there was plenty of torque on tap, whether you just wanted to cruise without changing gears or slam your foot to the floor.
Ask the 350Z for its best and it will pin your ears back, reaching 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.
It’s not just a straight-line hero; it comes into its own on a winding road where you get to experience its full performance repertoire.
Buyers had the choice of a six-speed manual or a five-speed auto with a paddle-shift manual mode and drive through the rear wheels.
It had speed-sensitive power steering and fourwheel ventilated disc brakes.
All models had anti-skid brakes, brake force distribution, brake assist and traction control.
When launched new in 2003 the 350Z Touring Coupe cost $62,790, but today you can get one for $25,000-$37,000. Add $3000 for the Track Coupe.
For the Roadster you’ll need to pay $35,000 to $40,000.
Genmerally the 350Z is trouble-free. Few problems have surfaced in the first four years it has been on sale.
• Choice of Touring Coupe, Track Coupe and Roadster • Leather trim • High safety levels • Six-speed manual or fivespeed auto with paddle-shift manual mode • Uses Premium unleaded PRICING: Touring Coupe goes for about $25,000-$37,000 Add $3000 for the Track Coupe The Roadster raises the bar to $35,000 to $40,000
The earliest cars have about 60,000km on the odometer if they’ve been used daily, but some have been reserved for weekend use.
The splendid double-overhead-camshaft V6 is robust and doesn’t appear to give much trouble at all. It does, however, require premium unleaded. Likewise, the transmissions and drivetrain seem robust and reliable. The chassis generally is standing up well, though there are some reports of high tyre wear.
The 350Z’s safety package was comprehensive, all models having dual front and side airbags and the coupes having curtain airbags.
With a responsive chassis, powerful brakes and an extensive array of electronic driver aids, the safety package is impressive.
The 350Z is a good looking, thrill-a-minute car with a great engine and agile chassis.