2008 350Z New Car Test Drive
The Nissan 350Z was extensively upgraded for 2006, and for 2007 Nissan turned its attention to the engine, which has been redesigned for substantially more power. This brought a styling bonus. Because the more powerful engine needed better breathing, the 2007 Nissan 350Z gets a new hood and front fascia that sucks in more air.
The new 3.5-liter V6 engine is used in all seven models of the 350Z. Something like 80 percent of the parts in the engine are new for 2007. On paper, the 2006 engine was rated 300 horsepower. For 2007 the output has been raised to 306 hp, but the increase is more than 6 hp because beginning in 2007 there's a more stringent industry standard for measuring horsepower, as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
The Nissan 350Z is fast, fun, and pure sports car. It costs about 10 times as much as the original 240Z, which went for about $3500, but in today's dollars that's only twice as much (as calculated by the Consumer Price Index). But you get about 10 times the car, so you're still way ahead.
Improvements for 2006 included upsized alloy wheels, tighter rack-and-pinion steering, bigger brakes, better headlamps, and a higher quality sound system. For 2007, side-impact air bags are added as standard equipment to the Roadster, and two Coupe models get the Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System with steering wheel-mounted controls.
When you consider components such as a carbon-fiber driveshaft and drive-by-wire throttle, as well as the convenience features that come standard, such as automatic temperature control and a premium stereo, the price of $27,900 for the Base Coupe is compelling. Of course, the other six models escalate in price, to $41,250 for a Grand Touring Roadster with optional five-speed automatic transmission. But they all come standard with that 306-hp engine and six-speed manual transmission.
The 350Z is a true-blue sports car with creature comforts. Its firm ride, abrupt throttle response, and awkward cup holders don't make it a great place to drink coffee and make phone calls on the way to work, but there's a lot of cargo space for a sports car, and it isn't awkward to climb in and out. The excellent optional five-speed automatic makes a civilized commuter car, while still making you happy during a weekend run down a racer road.
The Nissan 350Z delivers more than the promise of its powerful looks. It's a visceral sports car with serious performance that you can live with every day. The Roadster adds wind-in-your hair freedom.
Seven models of the 2007 Nissan 350Z are available: four Coupes and three Roadsters. All come with the 3.5-liter V6 engine making 306 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, and either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic.
The base 350Z 6MT Coupe ($27,900) comes standard with automatic temperature control, 160-watt AM/FM/CD with six speakers, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote entry, vehicle security system, heated outside mirrors, cloth seats with eight-way manual driver and four-way manual passenger adjustments, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter boot, 18-inch alloy wheels, and bi-Xenon HID headlights and LED taillights.
The 350Z Coupe Enthusiast comes with the six-speed manual ($29,600) or five-speed automatic ($30,600) and adds cruise control, traction control, viscous limited slip differential, aluminum pedals, HomeLink universal transceiver, illuminated steering wheel audio controls and electro-chromic rearview mirror.
The 350Z Coupe Touring ($32,700) adds heated power leather seats, a 240-watt Bose CD6/MP3 sound system with seven speakers. Electronic stability control (VDC) is included with the manual. It also comes with the automatic ($33,200).
The 350Z Coupe Grand Touring ($36,100) adds lightweight forged-alloy wheels (18 inches front, 19 inches rear), front and rear spoilers, Brembo brakes, and VDC for both the manual and automatic transmissions ($37,100). These high-performance components came on the 2006 Track model that's been discontinued.
The 350Z Roadster Enthusiast ($35,550) features power seats, a glass rear window with rear defroster, and a rear wind deflector.
The 350Z Roadster Touring ($37,900) adds heated leather seats and the Bose sound system.
The 350Z Roadster Grand Touring ($40,250) adds forged alloy wheels, spoilers, Brembo brakes, and VDC.
Safety features include dual-stage front supplemental air bags, front and rear body crumple zones, and active head restraints (except with Burnt Orange net seats). The Z earned NHTSA's five-star rating for side-impact crash test safety. Antilock brakes with EBD (electronic front-rear braking balance), brake assist and traction control are standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system. Side-impact airbags are standard on Roadsters, and a package including side-impact airbags and airbag curtains is optional ($620) on the Coupes.
Options include 18-inch chrome wheels ($1660), an aero package ($530), and a DVD-based navigation system ($1800). NISMO high-performance parts are available, including racier shocks, springs, sway bars and an exhaust system.