Z FORCE

Nis­san 350Z, launched 2003

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

THE LOW­DOWN

• 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.

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