San Francisco: In
pre-gas crisis 1970, the Big Three ruled the American marketplace. A
small number of little Toyotas and Datsuns plied the streets, Honda had
just started marketing the cute, microscopic 600, and the Civic was
still in the design phase. Mazda and Subaru had yet to bloom, and
Mitsubishi was unknown.
Into this world came
the startling Datsun 240Z. It was a two-seater, with a long, low
hatchback body, pointed nose, sleek sides, and a strong six-cylinder
engine under its long hood.
Strangely, the Z’s road
has not been straight or smooth. As the 1970s wore on, the car grew in
displacement and size to 260Z, 280Z, and then to 300ZX in the 1990s. By
the mid 1990s, oversized and overpriced, the car lost favor and was
But the Z came back to
life in 2002, with radical new styling applied to the classic
long-wheelbase, short-overhang proportions. Pounds were trimmed, prices
were slashed, and suddenly, the Z was a real competitor again.
Today, this model is 5
years old, going on 6, but retains plenty of wow factor. Like its
forebears, it has gained power through the years, and now flaunts a
306-horsepower V6 under its hood. Combined with 268 lb.-ft. of torque,
Nissan’s powerhouse still thrills. And this engine, now in its fourth
generation, has received a “Ten Best Engine” award from Ward’s Auto
World magazine for 14 straight years.
Nissan made many
changes to this year’s engine, from installing twin knock sensors to
boosting the compression ratio to tuning the engine’s sound for maximum
You can order your car
with a close-ratio six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The
Automatic costs an extra $1000 and nicks you slightly in fuel economy
and on the pollution index.
Per the EPA, the 2007
Z, with manual transmission, earns 20-mpg City and 27-mpg highway. The
automatic gains one in the city but loses one on the highway. I averaged
The agency’s Green
Vehicle Guide gives models sold in California and the other “green”
states a commendable 7 for Air Pollution Score (6 in the rest of the
states). For the Greenhouse Gas score, the manual transmission-equipped
models get a 6 while the automatic vehicles earn a 5.
You can buy a 350Z as a
coupe or roadster, in a range of models. My tester was a coupe. The base
car has plenty to offer, including the hot engine. Standard equipment
includes power windows, power locks, automatic temperature control, a
lockable rear luggage box behind the passenger seat, and more.
Three other flavors are
available for coupe or roadster (there is not a base model roadster).
The Enthusiast model adds aluminum pedals and Homelink transmitter, and
for performance’s sake, a limited slip differential, traction control,
cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors, and illuminated steering wheel
The Touring model
upgrades the audio to a seven-speaker Bose system, applies leather to
heated seats, and throws in the Bluetooth hands-free phone system.
The Grand Touring, like
my test car, has “the works,” with front and rear spoilers,
powerful-looking alloy wheels (18 in front, 19 in back), and mighty
Brembo disc brakes, which you can admire through the RAYS wheels.
My tester wore Solar
Orange, one of three new colors for 2007, standing out wherever I parked
The Z has a tough,
hunkered down look about it, from its flat face with wide, low grille
and staring headlamps to its unusual vertical aluminum door hands to its
extended, pointed taillamps. Inside, the drama continues, with a
swept-back dash, minimalist door shapes, and some sporty-looking bucket
seats for two.
instrument panel is reminiscent of the original Z. Ancillary gauges poke
their heads out of the top of the center console, just as they did in
1970. Metallic accents raise the level of sparkle a bit.
Once you settle in,
there’s enough room in the Z, and I didn’t feel claustrophobic. The rear
strut tower brace cuts across the storage area, but it does wear a large
Z logo that’s visible through the rear window.
The manual gear changes
are enjoyably taut, and the car leaped ahead when I let out the clutch.
It took me a day to get used to the way the power is applied immediately
to the road.
It’s on freeways when
you realize that the Z is not a cruiser. The suspension transmits every
surface change and bump to your behind, a very desirable behavior on
sporty back roads and the racetrack but less so during a commute.
Prices start at $27,900
for the base coupe, running up to $36,100 for the Grand Touring model.
With options, including navigation system, my tester came in about two
six-packs short of $40,000.
With its purposeful,
taut styling, generous power, and immediacy on the road, the 350Z is a
genuine sports car, large enough to carry you and a friend, and your two
golf bags, too. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San
Nissan Home Page
content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The Z is a real competitor again
Topic: The 2007 Nissan 350Z
Word Count: 886
Photo Caption: The 2007 Nissan 350Z
Photo Credits: Nissan 350Z Internet Media
Series #: 2007 -
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2007 Nissan 350Z
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2007 Nissan 350Z