By on December 22, 2006

6.jpgHunkered down inside the Nissan 350Z Roadster convertible with the top up, you know the way a clam must feel when it looks outside its shell. The top is screwed down like one of those heavy-duty chop jobs on a lead sled of yore. While claustrophobics need not apply, the Z’s powerplant’s guttural moan vibrates through the floorboards and around the metal carcoon in a most sensually satisfying manner. Open the lid and this is what a proper sports car is all about: pure, unadulterated exhilaration.

Of course, there’s nothing “pure” about the 350Z’ looks; the coupe could have been penned by a Cadillac designer on acid. Fortunately, the Z convertible is a different (if equally fantastic) beast. If you have a thing for 1957 and 1958 Porsche Speedsters but want something altogether more modern, this is your scene. Once the top drops, the Z’s basic shape is clean enough that most of us will forgive Nissan for the lid’s afterthought deportment.

9.jpgExcuse my obsessive-compulsive digression, but I’d like to point out that the lamentable door handles that debuted with the new 350Z remain in situ. The handles– which wouldn’t look out of place on a cheap chest of drawers– ruin the clean concave sweep of the upper portion of the car’s body. What’s more, they’ve been known to open when massaged by automatic car wash rollers. On the other hand, the rear taillights are minor works of art; the red and white plastics fit together like a Piet Mondrian painting.

Let’s face it: the Z’s target audience is getting on a bit. Perhaps that explains why Nissan’s logo design department seems to think 350Z buyers have Alzheimer’s. There’s a big Z emblem on the lower inside doorsills, a Z emblem on the (rear) wind blocker, a Z emblem on the steering wheel and even Z emblems on the floor mats.

It might also account for the fact that the Z’s cockpit is perfect for aging baby boomers. All the controls and switchgear have an oversized funky, chunky feel that’s as practical as it is stylish. The drop top roadster also has two speedometers, an analog gauge in the main instrument panel (for the nearsighted) and a digital unit in a cluster of three instruments in the center of the dashboard (for the far-sighted).

06_350z_13.jpgStaying with the theme, baby boomers can adjust the Z’s instrument pod up or down for comfort and visibility; a feature pioneered by Porsche’s long defunct, long nosed 928. And while the driver’s seat lacks lumbar support and a lift function, it comes with plenty of lateral bolstering and enough power adjustment for the most delicate spine. The power top could use some Viagra; it goes up or down in about 25  chronologically challenged seconds.

Thankfully, the 350Z’s heart is young, fit and free– well, free revving. Pistonheads might pine for a bit more than the 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6’ 300 horses, but it’s all about torque people. And we’re torquing 260 ft.-lbs. of twist at 4800 rpm. That’s enough power to motorvate the relatively heavy roadster (3400 pounds) to sixty from rest in 5.8 seconds. Engine thrust in second and third gears is enough to dislocate a bobblehead’s, er, head. AND you get great big earfuls of the Z’s characteristic moan-into-wail aria for no extra charge.

The 350Z sits upon Nissan’s (and Infiniti’s) ubiquitous FM platform. This high fidelity set-up offers an aluminum multi-link suspension (front and rear) and an engine position set so far back in the chassis that the M stands for “mid-engine.” In fact, the weight balance is more like 60/40, despite low weight, high tech solutions like a carbon fiber drive shaft. Although it shares a platform with Nissan's company sedans, the 350Z a wonderfully balanced, perfectly poised pavement partner.

7.jpgThe “Enthusiast” edition’s big ass rubber helps the convertible grip like a hooker’s thighs. Optional 18-inch aluminum wheels, not only help the “bling” factor, but also do wonders for the unsprung weight equation. The bottom line: the Z roadster’s combination of grip, go and near neutral handling allows for a lot of, um, driver error. When rain slicked highways induced a bit of looseness in the rear end department, simple counter-steering got the Z car back on-line.

Yup: the 350Z roadster convertible is ready for its close-up. After driving this $35k rice rocket ship (plus $90 for carpeted floor mats emblazoned with the aforementioned Z emblem), it’s hard to believe that anyone other than an almost-died-in-the-woods Porsche aficionado would want to pony up the extra money for a less powerful Boxster S or Audi TT. Still, at this level, in this category, it’s all about emotion. The 350Z roadster may ultimately lack the Germans’ stoicism, but for some of us, that’s a very good thing indeed. 

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51 Comments on “Nissan 350Z Roadster Convertible Review...”


  • avatar

    In fact, the weight balance is more like 60/40,

    The coupe is 53/47, and the convertible should move more weight to the back. So yeah, 60/40 sounds right.

  • avatar
    ash78

    If all we bought was bhp numbers, we'd all be driving Nissans in almost every class. That's their marketing niche and they do it well. But I don't know if a lot of people would cross-shop this with a Boxster S (maybe a used one?). No doubt, Nissan has a great powerplant and platform with this car, probably the best bang-for-buck in the category. The interior still looks seriously lacking to me, seems about the same as the models I drove 3-4 years ago. It just doesn't seem to really stand out even against an Altima. I think I'd consider a Mazdaspeed Miata if I were in the market, they seem to have hit the handling and interior marks very well, even though it's slower. Again, if Nissan's goal wasn't to print the big hp numbers, I wonder what else they could do with the car (esp. interior). My other rant is that I really can't stand those individual gauge pods in the main cluster (Lexus, Nissan, etc). I've always thought the main cluster should be a single plane with no visual interruption. $0.02

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The BIL has one of the these and we swept the west Austin hills late one night – damn, it was sweet. I just wish it’s stablemate, the G35, made a convertible so I had the convenience of a backseat.

  • avatar

    I hope they’ve significantly improved ride quality since 2003. My father had the coupe, and driving the car down a road with regularly spaced expansion joints / tar strips was a chore. Sure, the car was fun when flogged on a curvy country road, but as an around-town car it left much to be desired.

    I much prefer the RX-8 he now owns (and drives much more frequently), but then I’m not a torque junkie. No drop top option with that car, though.

    For price comparisons and real-world fuel economy:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/350Z.php

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    nice review, tasty piece, this one looks better than the previous ones, i think it might be the bulges in back of the seats..i’ve always liked that look. What is it with claustrophobic cars these days? I would actually prefer a G35 also, simple because it might be a little larger!

    as a member of the “boomers” group – u know – the ones with all the money? I’m glad that they have large knobs and buttons! ‘Bout time!

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Nah, I’d rather get the used M Roadster. For some reason I didn’t think the Z (coupe) felt as fast or powerful as it is. The nuetral balance is nice but it lacks the agility of a bimmer.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    has anyone heard the engine note from one of theses with an aftermarket exhaust on it? it makes me knees weak…

    now…about that styling…

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    Nice article. I particularly agree with your styling assessment. While I actually think the exterior is quite clean (save for those ugly door handles), those silvery interior trim pieces look cheap–I also suspect they will look more and more dated as the years pass. And the Z emblems are way overkill!

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Hasn’t this been out since 2003 without any major change until the 2007 model which I assume this is not a test of?

    Either way the 350z is a nice car, attractive (moreso in coupe form to me) good power and a nice price. It is a bit of a pig for a 2 seat car, really needs to drop around 500lbs but that’s what happens when you have to share a platform with an SUV/CUV/Crossover/Whatever.

    If I was going for a 2 seater I’d probably opt for a used Z4 or Boxster S, quick, nimble and better resale value.

  • avatar

    Great review. I’ve been waiting to read the “Truth that I already new” about this car ever since I got into a 2005 coupe.

    So far it’s been a great ride, a perfect combination of power, style, handling, and affordability.

    The firm (rough) ride is a trade off worth making in my opinion (handling + road feel). In fact, the things I like the most about the car are it’s raw edges. The connected feel of the shifter, the firm uncompromising ride, and the throaty exhaust note that permeates through the cabin.

  • avatar
    Bonefizz

    jerseydevil:

    Your a boomer with money? Geez, you think you know someone!

    Looking forward to your next rant!

  • avatar
    ret

    z31:

    The coupe is 53/47, and the convertible should move more weight to the back. So yeah, 60/40 sounds right.

    I think you got that backwards. 53F/47R for the coupe going to 60F/40R in the convertible would be MORE weight up front. Assuming the “weight balance is more like 60/40″ comment is pretty accurate, I can only assume that the additional weight due to chassis reinforcement overshadows the additional weight of the convertible top mechanism.

  • avatar

    I’m a tick younger than a “baby boomer”, so maybe I’m outside the 350Z’s target demographic… but I honestly don’t care how long it takes to raise a roadster’s roof. Hell, I’m even OK with having to get out of the car and raise it up myself.. by hand. For me a top on a roadster is a binary thing… it is “0” most of the time, and only raised to “1” as a matter of absolute necessity. I can count the number of times I’ve driven with my roadster’s top up on two hands, and that covers the last four years! (AND I live in a rainy climate!)

    Like so many devices, the designers of cars seem to get stuck in the rut of building them to meet the expectations of automotive journalists, whose junket-fuelled life-styles and bitter lack of capital to own actually good cars makes them overly criticize the trivial and demand the impractical. How fast the convertible top goes up is, in the scheme of things a minor issue, but low hanging fruit for a reviewer to pick. Much like the 0-60 bitching on the Sebring review earlier. Jesus… who brings a Sebring to a drag race ferchrissakes!

    The BEST convertible top I have ever operated was on an old Mercedes-Benz 450sl. It was smooth, seamless and fit PERFECTLY with no leaks, wind noise, etc. When stowed it was invisible and well protected from the elements. Of course, other than an S2000, I am not that familiar with modern day tops so perhaps I have been ruined for appreciating such modern conveniences by my old mid-60s leaking noisy Jaguar. ;)

    The thing I find glaringly absent from this review is mention of the gearbox. To me the greatest pleasure I derive from time behind the wheel of my roadster is the sublime mechanical ecstasy brought about by the interplay between my right hand, my left foot, and the throbbing monster under the bonnet. I see a photogragh (#3 of 4) that displays a shifter with a disappointingly straight line of travel. Please don’t tell me this “roadster” has been insulted by the installation of a slushbox! Say it ain’t so! If I wanted to drive a Lay-Z-Boy I’d buy an SUV, not a roadster.

    It is nice to see Nissan maintain the heritage of the Z cars of my childhood. I recall them as being the true beachhead of the Japanese invasion of this country. The 240/260/280Z’s are what made possible the Camrys, the Sentras, and the Imprezas. The later ZX models sort of lost their way, but at least then there was the Celica Supra (R.I.P).

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Terry, could you elaborate on “the weight balance is more like 60/40″? Seems hard to believe, with that engine so far back.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Bonefizz

    haha – do i rant? surely not! Measured commontery perhapy.. but rant? nah-

  • avatar
    tincanman99

    My favorite quote:

    “The “Enthusiast” edition’s big ass rubber helps the convertible grip like a hooker’s thighs.”

    Never particularly liked the styling – always reminds me of an Audi TT without the purity of design that the Audi has. The Audi is a piece of Bauhaus sculpture on wheels. This is kind of well… I dont know. Strange looking?

    I dont know if its a Japanese thing or not but asian cars do not have the same sense of style that American or European cars do. I dont know if the asian design aesthetic. They are almost always kind of generic and blah.
    But they are super reliable and run – that is always a good thing.

    I am not stereotyping nor making a racist comment. Just an observation.

  • avatar
    ash78

    tincanman99
    I also thought the Z was a complete “budget TT” knockoff when I first saw it. I think the TT is the best auto design of the last two decades, just too bad it wasn’t a very solid performer without some modding.

    Did Nissan ever resolve that tire wear issue people were experiencing? I’ve heard many stories about these cars eating up tires in 5-10k miles with normal driving. IIRC, it was a camber issue or something else with suspension geometry.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    This baby boomer finds the ride quality of the Z to be totally unacceptable. When I owned one, I could never consume carbonated beverages while operating my Z as the frothing in my stomach would make me upchuck. You also neglected to mention the complete absense of rearward visibility.

    The price point of this sports car makes it a more obvious target for someone younger than a baby boomer.

  • avatar

    # ret:
    I think you got that backwards. 53F/47R for the coupe going to 60F/40R in the convertible would be MORE weight up front. Assuming the “weight balance is more like 60/40″ comment is pretty accurate, I can only assume that the additional weight due to chassis reinforcement overshadows the additional weight of the convertible top mechanism.

    Sorry, I forgot my /sarcasm tag ;)
    Chassis reinforcement would be A-pillar back, not in the front.

    chuckgoolsbee:
    It is nice to see Nissan maintain the heritage of the Z cars of my childhood.

    The later ZX models sort of lost their way.

    Hate to break it to you, but the 350Z is a lot closer to those ‘ZXs that lost their way’ than it is to the 240Z.

    ZXs didn’t have the benefit of aluminum blocks and carbon fiber driveshafts and still weigh less than 350z (except the z32, which was in the 3400lb range).

    Jay Shoemaker:
    This baby boomer finds the ride quality of the Z to be totally unacceptable. When I owned one, I could never consume carbonated beverages while operating my Z as the frothing in my stomach would make me upchuck.

    That’s why sports cars shouldn’t have cupholders ;)

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    First, a quick reply to Steve S: yes, this version of the 350Z has been out since late in 2003; as I recall, it debuted as a 2004 model. Yes too, this car was officially a 2006. But guess what? It’s a carry over platform, according to official Nissan news (and other accounts). So there’s no change between 2006 and 2007 editions (as they’re tagged when shipped to dealers). From my point of view, it goes back to that old saying: why mess with success. Or maybe it should be, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” I do appreciate your eagle eye.
    And Paul, here’s what I understand from what I have studied on this car. (I wrote for Sport Z magazine from winter 2000 through its demise last summer, and now, write for Nissan Sport.) The engine is nestled back, still in front of the cabin, but with the very back end of it, right under the cowl. I believe Ret’s post has the exact numbers on the coupe. To get a 50/50 weight distribution, my hunch is the engine would have to be setting somewhere between the driver and passenger. There were some Canadians who made a Renault LeCar in the 1980s with, as I recall, a Ford 5 liter V8 settled about there; maybe some clever aftermarketeers will build a 350Z like that, some time.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    As the former owner of an 03 coupe, I’m glad you guys finally got around to reviewing a Z. For the price, I think these cars are great. Enough power to keep you entertained and well styled.

    I agree the TT made a bigger design statement, but that was never a sports car to me. And they are priced a bit beyond the average dude.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Nissan says the weight distribution for the 350Z Roadster is 53/47 front/back. 60/40 is typical for FWD sedan. It may not sound like much, but it’s a big difference.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Jay Shoemaker

    another reason not to drink soda. personally i hate it.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Finally, someone with the stones to call out those ugly door handles!!! We see them much too often on the TTAC banner. Nice car otherwise. :-)

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    It’s my understanding that the 2007 Z will get the revised 306bhp motor now found in the 2007 G35 sedan.

    My point was not the issue of the review which was good but the fact that the review is on a vehicle that 90% of which has not changed since its inception as a 2004 MY.

  • avatar

    Steve_S:

    We would have LOVED to review this car three years ago. We would also LOVE to review the new one when Nissan starts junketeering the press.

    At the moment, TTAC is still at the bottom of the press car food chain. We depend on persistent journalists, friendly dealers (yes dealers) and sometimes friends.

    We do the best we can with what we’ve got. When we’ve got more, we’ll do more.

  • avatar
    levi

    We would have LOVED to review this car three years ago. We would also LOVE to review the new one when Nissan starts junketeering the press.

    At the moment, TTAC is still at the bottom of the press car food chain. We depend on persistent journalists, friendly dealers (yes dealers) and sometimes friends.

    We do the best we can with what we’ve got. When we’ve got more, we’ll do more.

    That, sir, is why I read TTAC.

    Its not only the truth about cars, its the truth about automotive journalism, the truth about sponsorship, the truth about what it takes to buck the establishment.

    Cutting edge automotive journalism in the raw. Kudos, Mr Farago. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    webebob

    if we looked only at bhp, we’d all be driving Datsuns?

    Thanks to my pre-Alzheimer brain, I still remember working for the auto wholesaler, riding up with a bunch of young guys to visit Washington DC dealers and getting to drive back the wholesalers get rid of em quick bargains. Ah, those heady days of driving back 240 and 260 and 280zs whose less than decade old at the time metal gas tanks had rusted through and let gas fumes into the passenger compartment. I did say it was a HEADY experience.

    The new gas doesn’t smell as good as the old stuff does, which I guess is why I didn’t want to look forward to sniffing those fumes in a 350z a few miles down the road.

    Thanks Datsun, you stood the sports car mfrs on their heads when the Z debuted in ’70, its just that not all of us live in a rust free environment.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    This review touches on a topic that reviewers rarely address: just how much car do you need? The reality in the US is that the speed limits/what we can get away is easily less than 100 mph, probably a lot less than that. The reality is also that most of us probably don’t go to the track.

    So, apart from status, do you get that much more USEABLE performance when you get more than a Cayman S, Boxster S or 335i??? And this review suggests you may not even have to go to these limits, at least for a convertible.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    chuckgoolsbee:

    For the nth time — the top line Sebring is SLOWER than the competition for the same money. Newer, too.

  • avatar

    In 10 years this car will look just as ragged out as every recent Nissan. The Boxster will hold up to the miles like a Porsche. It’s because of that the Porsche will also hold its resale value, something that cannot be said about the 350Z.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    I hate to admit it, but I tend to agree with you, Brandon. It’s changed a bit from the old days of the 240Z, since rust-proofing has gotten better, but it still seems that a lot of Nissan owners drive their cars hard and “put ‘em away wet” (as the old saying comparing cars to horses, goes). From what I have read, it used to drive Mr. K (Yutaka Katayama, the man who brought the Z car to the States) to distraction.
    Porsche owners, God bless them, seem to be among the most anal-retentive; and this also will probably help Porsche Boxsters that survive (and aren’t wrecked at the hands of people whose talent and skill as drivers, lags behind their cars’ platforms). Personally, I would never buy a Boxster new; but rather try to find a well-maintained and pampered one, at a collector car auction (such as one I saw sell in Portland, Oregon, at one such event in October, for about $15,000 – and belonged to the guy staging the auction).

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    The original Z had a derivative look, but the car stood out because it was much cleaner and more contemporary than the (British) competition. A giant among pygmies?

    The current Z’s design leaves me cold. The rear has a rather “lard a$$” quality, and the front is surprisingly bland (yup, and those door handles. . .). The coupe has a weird hunchback roofline, and the slant-eye taillights don’t translate terribly well into a convertible deck shape.

    Me thinks Nissan’s designers did a better job on the Altima.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Some pics of the “new” version.

    new350Z

    Look at that hood…

    The Eurospec engine has got 313 HP and 365 NM (Euro measure for torque, I calculated what it meant once but I forgot) 0-100 Km/h alledgedly 0,2s quicker (5,6s).

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Forgot to respond to a question from Chuck Goolsbee. You can indeed get an optional automatic in the Nissan 350Z, but the transmission in the version I drove most recently was a six-speed manual transmission. It engaged well and as you row through the gears, it has a decent mechanistic feel to it. The shifter itself is, as you can see, not very tall and that helps. Admittedly, the engagement and sense of precision, is deliberate and not quite as good as that in the Honda S2000. While I am admittedly ignorant of what the latest offerings from Porsche feel like (last Boxster I drove was in 1998), I believe that few 6 speeds are, if any, as good as that found in the Honda S2000. By the way, I clicked on your link and looked a bit at your blog – nice work!

  • avatar
    nweaver

    I had a rental Z coupe the other week. It was strangely dissapointing.

    Eg, the engien had serious thrust, and it was undoubtedly faster than the Miata I rented the week before. But the Miata FELT faster, both in a straight line and handling wise, and the Miata, not the Z, seemed to bring out the Mr Hyde in my driving…

  • avatar
    wsn

    It’s funny how people compare used a Z4/Boxster to a new 350Z. They thought there comparison is fair because both cost the same. But how can you on earth compair a new car to an old car?!

    No fair comparison can ever be made for cars of completely different price ranges. Let’s look at it the other way around. Say, what if someone don’t have a lot money and had to settle for a used 350Z. Isn’t that much better than selling his house and buying a new Z4?

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    wsn:

    Let me take the other side: you can compare used and new cars and people do it all the time. Sure you get more for your money with a used car, but it’s a used car. You weigh a better car with uncertainty about its use vs a new car. People do it all the time.

  • avatar
    o_fizzle

    The Z is definitely a desirable ride but I would have to opt for the S2000. Only because I’m a sucker for high-revving engines. And it’s also lighter. I guess you’d have to get around the fact that you’re paying about the same price for 2 less cylinders than the Z.

  • avatar
    RX8guy

    tincanman99:

    I dont know if its a Japanese thing or not but asian cars do not have the same sense of style that American or European cars do. I dont know if the asian design aesthetic. They are almost always kind of generic and blah.
    But they are super reliable and run – that is always a good thing.

    My Response to tincanman99: You talk about lack of styling with Japanese cars but what about the RX-8. There are more curves on that car, than you can shake a stick at.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    My wife and I test drove a 350Z back in 2004 when I was looking for a new car. We compared (mental) notes afterwards and basically agreed.
    1) It was fun to drive with good acceleration and good handling.
    2) While not being exactly buttugly, it was hardly a work of automotive art either.
    3) Storage space? I guess I might be able to fit a pair of gloves in one of the many tiny cubbyholes sprinkled throughout the car. Weekend trip to the wine country? Ha, Ha, Ha, yeah right.
    4) Interior styling? I guess that depends on your definition of styling.

    We both agreed that while this car might be fun to drive along some curvy mountain road, it could never be an enjoyable daily driver. We both enjoyed the high revving RX8 much more; though my wife wasn’t able to quite get the hang of such a high revving engine (Mustang owner). The RX8 has better styling, better feel, and is better as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    My 2005 just hit 40,000 miles. I work as a mobile computer technician and I use it for work and as my daily driver. Here’s my impressions of it after all the use and abuse I put it through.

    I have a base model. You can’t buy it anymore, but I can’t speak highly enough about the fact that it is the lightest and fastest version of the car. If you hate electronic nannies then you better look for one of these. ABS and EBD only, no stability or traction control.

    Price: This is the source of most of the pros AND the cons for this car. The end value, to me, is Excellent. I paid 23.5k for mine.

    Performance: You get more than half the performance of a Corvette, for half the price.

    Interior: It’s hard plastic. It looks bad. It feels bad. But it holds up wonderfully. I throw computer and printer parts in cardboard boxes into it all the time. I’ve even carried whole HP printers in it on the passenger seat. I’ve had it loaded up so bad I could barely shift and could only see through half the front window and the driver’s side window. But it still looks new. No scuffs or scrapes. Hard plastic is durable, who woulda thunk it? On a more positive note, the seats are comfortable and have held up well, and I’m no small guy.

    Exterior: Obviously I love the styling, except the door handles. I also love the exclusive to 2005 Ultra Yellow paint. I won’t say more than that because it’s personal preference and you can decide for yourself. I will say that it collects rock chips on the front bumper and the front of the hood like crazy. Other than that, paint looks new.

    Gas mileage: City – lowest 16, average 21, highest 24. Highway – lowest 25, average 28, highest 31. Excellent for what it is and how I drive it. This is one reason why I disagree with the RX-8 being a better daily driver. With premium costing $50 a fillup, 14mpg HIGHWAY won’t cut it for a daily. Unless you’re so rich you just don’t care. If I’m going to get that low of gas mileage, I better have 500hp. But the RX-8 has less power than the Z… inexcusably low in my mind.

    Reliability: 5w30 Mobil 1 full synthetic every 3-5k miles, front brake pads and one set of tires(stock Bridgestones suck) in 40k miles. This is another reason I disagree with the RX-8 for a daily.

    Any other questions or comments let me know. I obviously love the car, but I will answer truthfully and try not to be too biased. :)

  • avatar
    middleNameIsEarl

    “It’s funny how people compare used a Z4/Boxster to a new 350Z. They thought there comparison is fair because both cost the same. But how can you on earth compair a new car to an old car?!”

    I think this particular price range is specifically difficult. ALL ~25-30K cars are compromised in some serious way, that seems to get fixed once you shop around the 40K mark. I considered buying a 350Z, and my alternatives were all over the place. Subaru WRX STi, Audi A3, Audi TT (mk I), and S2K. Not one of those cars gets everything right in the way a Z4 coupe or a Boxter comes so near to. The STi drives like the race car I wanted to own, but with an interior I could have built better from Legos, and an exterior insufficiently removed from its 19K Impreza cousin. The A3 is driven by the wrong wheels, but at least gets the interior, exterior, transmission, and engine well executed. The TT looks and feels the part, but drives like a last generation golf. The S2K is pretty close, but the lack of torque and the fact that my friends 3 year old S2K is on its second roof, has the interior of a ’83 vette are downers.

    The fact is, there really isn’t a “perfect” car around this price point. So you can fairly consider buying that close to perfectly executed, but slightly used 40K car, or take the concessions you get with a new 30K car. On the flip-side, buying a used 350Z etc. to save bucks is solving a different problem- that of being in over your head on your idea of a car payment to begin with. So from that stand point, I think its fair to consider the Z4 and Boxter in their previously loved glory as many seem wont to do.

    Myself, I ended up with an A3. Wrong wheel drive just isn’t that problematic in (spirited) day-to-day city driving. Craptastic plastics and door knobs from the set of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” are a little tougher under those parameters.

  • avatar
    ktm

    I owned a 2003 coupe in Le Mans sunset. I absolutely loved the car and hated trading it in for a sedan once my wife and I were expecting.

    The Z is deceptively quick. What many people do not realize (and thus think the car is slow) is that the car has a linear throttle, unlike most cars on the road. Give the car 10% throttle, you get 10% power. If you want to go fast, you have to floor it to unleash all of the ponies.

    I do agree that the ride is harsh, but I used it as my daily driver over [i]Los Angeles[/i] roads and it never bothered me. Granted, I could not drink a morning coffee in the car unless it had a lid, but then again the ride alone was enough to wake me up.

    The lack of visibility through the rear window did bite me in the ass though. A CHP rolled up on me far enough back that I could not see him behind me. He paced me for 1/2-mile and pulled me over for doing 80 (I was busy talking to a coworker and was trying to keep it under 75).

    Still, the car was a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    Toxie2725

    A wonderful car, lacking only the HP to make it a fantastic car. 40K for a vert puts it in vette/cobra/srt8 territory – and I know which I would rather have.

  • avatar
    Joe

    I have an 03 Leman Copper color 350Z coupe and I love it! I don’t know why people like bashing the 350Z or Z car in general. Everyday that I drive that car, I always have an idiot trying to race me, Civics, GrandPrix GXP, S2000, Corolla S just to name a few. Seems like people consider that car the “benchmark” car. Funny though.. I paid 21,000 out the door with 35,000 miles. It is an automatic but let me tell you something, it rips through all the gears, and it shifts right at redline! I have an intake and an exhaust system and this thing sounds throaty(gutted out cats)!

    Yea, the interior kinda sucks but I don’t care since I’m a single guy. The door handle sucks also, but I don’t mind it since it matches with my stock rims. With a few modification, you can really get this car to really haul. My car still pins me back to the seat. I also have a lot of compliments for the car.

    On a side note, the 07 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP (303HP supposedly) couldn’t beat this good ol’ 3.5 v6 engine. No lie, I was doing over 145 and still the grand prix couldn’t take it. I’m not gonna say that I “smoked” him but I did take him pretty good. It was also funny seeing the grand prix trying to taking turns at high speed… LOL.. It was bouncing around so much, that I had to slow down to make sure he wouldn’t loose control.

    So for you people who don’t like the Z’s then leave us alone and go on with your life. And remember the next time you see a Z, we are the benchmarks.

    By the way, go ahead and rev those 1.3L Rotary engine to 9000 RPMS continously and I will tell you a little story about those apex seals on the rotors. LOL…

    Also, let see how reliable those Porshe’s really are…

    Just my 2 cents.

  • avatar
    Hiryuu

    I wouldn’t want to rant about how bad I think this car is but that is not the problem… the problem has always been Nissan.

    First they have to stop lying about the horsepower, the original VQ35DE is said to make 280~ hp. So why would the 350z dyno at only 230~ (some report around 250)? And how does the same motor produce less horsepower in half of other models that use it? (someone better have an explanation for that…oh wait then who’d be lying?)

    Now maybe I’m wrong but how much more “ooomph” do you get from a impreza or a lancer evolution yet pay the same? Lets say for a moment the 350z lays 250 at the wheels but why is it the lancer evo VIII which lays down 230 at the wheels (the IX lays 250 but im not talking about the IX) runs a second faster 0-60 and more than a full second faster in the 1/4 mile. All this I got from personal experience and just talking to people who have these cars.

    For reference I tested with these averages. 0-60 for evo VIII is 4.3 and 350z average is 5.5, 1/4 mile for evo VIII 13.3 and 350z 14.3 . These may not be exact numbers you get but they’re fairly close in proportion.

    On a personal note, Anyone who says 350z has good handling should be shot on sight. The car has a multiple personality problem when it comes to handling, whether it feels like it has the case of sudden understeer entering a turn then after you slow down and proceed to again accelerate it feels like some oversteer is in order and so the drift contest begins at the end of turn when you want grip back.

    This is my experience which is not to say this car is bad, but in no way does this car deserve the respect its gotten. Cars like the Lancer Evo IX (even the VIII) makes the 350z look like a joke in every form of racing and other cars like the s2000 which cannot compete with its speed easily take it on the twisties yet these cars cost the same. Even the Z4 has superior handling to the 350z. Even the gas guzzling oversized 300c with a 5.7 v8 is faster yet costs less.

    The 350z is just a naturally aspirated, two door sports car that has many faults but satisfies those who just want to act cool this year and can’t quite afford anything faster that the public agrees is “hip” (aka gay35) yet can’t see themselves in a 4 door rally car

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Please don’t shoot me but I still feel that the Nissan 350Z, with a fixed roof or drop-top, has good handling. And I feel in good company, in that opinion.

    In the June 2007 Car and Driver magazine, Michael Austin, who worked with others on the C/D staff and in the contributor pool, rated the 350 Z coupe third, behind the latest Audi TT (at second place) and the venerable Mazda RX-8 (in first). About the Z, he wrote, “At least the 350Z is a focused driver magazine (emphasis mine), which is really what matters. Not only does it keep up with the Mustang in a straight line, but it also beats the three other cars around the track, thanks to the best power-to-weight ratio and tenacious grip. The steering drew postive reviews as well for its good-on-center feel and feedback.”

    If you need four doors, the Mazda RX-8 is a very good way to go. This is not to take away from what the Mitsubishi Evo is: a racecar for the street, which can go onto a track or a dirt road (during a sanctioned rally only please!). Personally, if I had the money, I’d buy an Evo and keep the miles on it low as possible. In another 20 years, all things considered, a new generation of car collectors might pay some pretty big bucks for the Evo (even if the parent company, Mitsubishi, is gone). To my mind, it is something akin to what the 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang was on the track (and still is, at certain vintage events) and is today, on the docket.

  • avatar
    Efilnikufesin

    350Z…….and here i’m still stuck with my trusted stock R34GT-R!

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Yes, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the Z handling. It isn’t what I would consider excessively fun handling, or highly agile handling but it does the job very well and with barely any fuss. Amazing grip, and great accuracy and stability. In C&Ds Lightning Lap comparo, the Z-track actually bested the Evo.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/11755/the-lightning-lap-ll1-under-30000-page4.html

    There isn’t anything wrong with the engine, and you should know that there are many settings and changes that can be done to an engine to make it put out different amounts of power for different applications. Some of those other cars that share the VQ make a bit more torque and get better fuel mileage. It’s a great engine anyway that feels like it has endless power, and it’s all naturally aspirated. I don’t think the Z and the Evo/Sti are in the same class anyway. The souped up econo sedan styling definitely caters to a different crowd.

  • avatar
    phatfarman

    I just purchased my 1st Nissan 350Z about 4 weeks ago! And I don’ really care what you people say about it…I LOVE this car! I’m going from a ’92 Lexus sc400 to this! What a transition! Just can’t get enough of this car! It’s winter time here and I put a jacket on and STILL ride with my top down! The BEST CAR I’VE EVER HAD!!!!


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