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350Z - nice write up..

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Just read this old article on smartmoney.com on the 350Z, I know it's not everybody's cup of tea but this guy seem to really like it. I have yet to see one in the flesh, nor spoken to anyone who owns one, so I am still a bit undecided as to whether I like it or not... I think I would have preferred a more retro looking, 240Z like machine.. This article is a bit old so its rather interesting having hindsight on a few things...

Z-ing Is Believing

By Paul Ingrassia

November 12, 2002

TO Z OR NOT TO Z? If that is the question, the answer is a resounding yes. While Nissan's new 350Z sports coupe — the fifth generation of the fabled "Z-car" — might be outgunned in one characteristic or another by one of its competitors, it boasts a blend of attributes that its two-seater sports car competitors have a hard time matching.

Specifically, the 350Z is far more comfortable to occupy than, say, the Honda S2000, which has hot performance aplenty but all the comfort of a middle seat on a puddle-jumping commuter plane. Also, the 350Z packs virtually the same punch as a Porsche Boxster but for many thousands of dollars less.

And the Z's styling is both fresh and familiar — offering a contemporary rendition of the original 1970 Datsun 240Z, thus evoking nostalgic vibes similar to those conjured up by Volkswagen's new Beetle or Ford's new Thunderbird. Like the Beetle and the 'Bird, the Z car went out of production for a while before being reborn.

The previous version, the 300ZX Turbo (the only one in the line with a turbocharged engine) was last produced six years ago. When Nissan stopped making the car, the base price had soared to a lofty $37,000 that too few buyers were willing to pay. Nissan got the message; the new Z's base price is some $10,000 less.

To be sure, the 350Z has a few flaws and presents some pitfalls to be avoided. Tops among the latter is the optional five-speed automatic transmission. Putting an automatic on this machine is like telling Tiger Woods to swing his driver with one arm tied behind his back, which would rob even him of performance.

In contrast to the automatic, however, the 350Z's six-speed manual transmission is pure heaven — offering short, smooth shifting that unleashes the 287 horses that lurk beneath the hood. This hefty horsepower comes from a 3.5-liter, 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam V-6 that zips from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. This engine comes in all five flavors of the 350Z: the base car, the Enthusiast, the Touring, the Performance and the Track. The differences among the versions lie in the accessories.

The Performance version, for example, offers 18-inch wheels and tires, versus the 17-inchers on the base model, and a vehicle dynamic control system that enhances stability at high speeds. The 350Z Track gets lightweight forged-aluminum 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler and an upscale Brembo brake system (though the regular brakes feel plenty secure and effective).

In any version, the 350Z provides considerable muscle for the moolah. The price of the base car is $26,809 (all prices include destination charge), with the upscale versions topping out around $10,000 higher than that, depending on what's included. The 350Z Touring that I used to cruise through the Catskill Mountains in New York on a recent weekend carried a sticker price of $35,718, including $1,999 for the optional DVD navigation system in the dashboard. Honda's S2000 can be had for about the same amount, but the Porsche Boxster runs north of $47,000.

Both the S2000 and the Boxster are a little slower from a standing start than the 350Z. The real speed demon in this category is the BMW M3 coupe, which boasts 333 horsepower and blasts from zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds, but costs more than $45,000.

In truth, the 350Z's smooth and powerful acceleration doesn't thrust you hard against the back of your seat the way the M3 coupe can do. Nissan could have, and should have, made the Z faster by making the car somewhat lighter; at 3,188 pounds, the 350Z is about 1,000 pounds heavier than the original. Of course, the engine on the original 240Z packed only 150 hp, little more than your average subcompact has today. The 350Z's engineers apparently prized a stiff chassis even at the price of some extra poundage, which is exactly what they produced.

The bottom line is that the 350Z's acceleration certainly is satisfying, if not exactly exhilarating. Fuel economy is very good for a car with this much oomph: 20 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

The 350Z, like the Boxster, the S2000 and the M3 coupe, has the rear-wheel-drive layout that driving enthusiasts expect. The car is built on Nissan's new FM (for "front midship") platform, which results in a front/rear weight distribution of 53/47 percent; this provides an even balance that helps make the car's handling nimble and responsive. Cornering is hugely fun in this car, thanks to that stiff chassis and to the manual transmission, which gives you ample leeway to downshift and accelerate while coming out of a curve on a mountain road.

Speaking of which, the 350Z displayed its strengths nicely on my ride through the Catskills. Downshifting from sixth gear into fifth allowed the car to climb up the steepest highway mountain grades without breaking a sweat. Hills? What hills?

The lateral support offered by the seats is absolutely outstanding — likely the best I have encountered. Indeed, the 350Z is amazingly comfortable for driver and passenger alike, even on trips that cover many miles and last many hours. This level of comfort is unusual for cars in this class.

The 350Z's comfort stems partly from its proportions. The car is nearly 3 inches wider, more than an inch taller and more than 7 inches longer than Honda's S2000. The extra space is there because Nissan wanted a sports car that "owners could live with and look forward to driving every day," as the Z's marketing material states. In other words, Nissan made some tradeoffs to make the Z more user-friendly, even at the cost of some performance. For the most part, this gambit works.

The 350Z's interior is efficiently designed and well proportioned, with an uncluttered, attractive dashboard and nicely textured plastic surfaces. The gauges are simple and easy to read. I especially liked the tire-pressure monitoring system, which adds a sports-car touch. Having the glove box situated behind the passenger seat makes access a little awkward, but how often do you reach for the glove box while driving anyway?

Some complaints: The lateral bar that stretches across the rear storage space no doubt adds some rigidity to the car's body, but it cuts down on the room available for your luggage or gear. More annoying, I found, was the noise of the passenger's seat-belt buckle banging against the inside door panel. If you're riding with a passenger, the seat belt will be buckled and the problem will disappear. Otherwise, you should buckle the passenger's belt yourself.

The plusses outweigh these quibbles by a long shot. The 350Z's styling is eye-catching enough to draw lots of admiring stares and waves. The dual exhaust emits a sound that is authoritative and throaty, stopping just shy of being obnoxious.

Standard features include automatic climate control, power door locks and windows, remote keyless entry, a six-speaker audio system with AM-FM radio and a CD player, remote-control door mirrors, an electric rear-window defroster and a rear-window wiper. The halogen headlights are sleek and attractive.

Available optional equipment, besides the must-avoid automatic transmission, includes the in-dash navigation system and side-impact airbags for both body and head; the latter cost $569. Nissan's sales goals for the 350Z are modest: 30,000 cars over the next 12 months. The limited supply means that wannabe buyers have been lining up at dealerships, so don't expect any discounts.

By next summer Nissan will extend the 350Z lineup with a convertible, for those who want speed and comfort with the wind blowing through their hair.

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George,

Thanks for the article; I happen to own a 2003 350Z base model finished in brickyard red (maroon) and took delivery in January of 2003. The car has now covered 5600 miles since January 3,2003 with about 3600 of those miles attained on long distance trips from Washington,D.C. to Atlanta, Ga. and Tampa, Fl. respectively. The trip to Tampa saw average speeds of 70 to 80 with a couple of bursts to 100+. At 80 mph the car is very sure footed and doesn't require constant steering inputs to maintain a straight line in contrast to my '88 Toyota Supra Turbo. The car also will average 26-27 mpg on the highway and 22-24 in the urban cycle. She will gladly suck down 18 gallons of petrol from empty at a cost of about $32.

I also own several S30 cars ('76 and 3 '78's) and this car is very comfortable on the long haul (drove straight through to Tampa and staying up all night to get it done and if the old eyes weren't so tired I could have stayed up the following day) just like the old Z's and this one's natural cruising range is about 80mph just like my old 280Z's with the 5 speed.

The joy extends into the engine bay as well. Oil changes are a simple procedure and for all of you old Z car lovers this car's engine has a timing chain (no more of that timing belt b.s.) and a superbly located oil filter and oil drain plug. Another nice feature is the battery is isolated away from the rest of the engine bay as well as the brake/clutch fluid resevoirs (the two plastic covers at the stern of the engine bay hide those items). An interesting point with regard to the base models: the engine bay is painted a semi-gloss black as well as the underside of the hood (the upmarket models feature paint matched engine bays). As any racer will tell you the black engine bay is a plus for heat dissipation.

I would urge anyone to drive this car and find out for yourselves. The car is a blast to drive and can hold its own with most of today's machinery. Z cars don't make much sense as life-sized Matchbox cars being stowed away in some musty garage; I drive mine sensibly (avoid snow or ice covered streets as these cars don't do well at all w/ factory issued tires--Bridgestone's in my case) and try not to let it sit for too long.

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That guy did like the car, didn't he...

But one question - he states that a Boxster is $47,000+ and an M3 is $45,000+.... your M3's are cheaper than Boxsters???

Also, $45,000 for an M3 seems astoundingly cheap. Here they retail for almost DOUBLE that figure!!

What's up? :stupid:

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Er daddz,

Thanks for the compliment, but it feels rather strange for me to see my car parked outside my garage in London being used as your Avatar..............

I might have to get my lawyer to send you a "Cease and desist" letter.

You've got got a few nice cars of your own - so why not use one of them?

I feel like my car has been stolen:ermm:

Alan T.

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Originally posted by HS30-H

Er daddz,

Thanks for the compliment, but it feels rather strange for me to see my car parked outside my garage in London being used as your Avatar..............

Alan T.

Didn't you sell your car Alan?

I'm sure that would be the only way you would allow your old avatar being used?

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I think I would have remembered if I had sold it..........

That car is not for sale.

Alan T.

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Alan T,

Sorry about that avatar:classic:

I was searching for HS30H pictures the other day and at the same time I was trying to pick out an avatar. My pictures weren't formatted properly at that time howoever, that issue has been dealt with.

p.s. If you ever want to sell the HS30H??

LOL

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Whew,

Thanks for that daddz.

I was going to put out an APB for you ( GTA: Grand Theft Avatar ).

I feel much better now..............

If you want to buy the car, start saving now:bunny:

Alan T.

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Alan T,

GTA= Grand Theft AvatarROFL

I will try to find your car's twin first:classic: ....there's always that 401K though:classic:

In all seriousness I really need to acquire a garage first and then figure out what part of the globe to move the collection to:cheeky:

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