Nissan 350Z Coupe review (2003-2010)
With bags of character, the 350Z is still one of our favourite coupes.
Driving Beneath the new-in-2007 bonnet bulge of the 350Z sits an exceptional 3.5-litre V6. Revised in ‘07, it produces 309bhp, but more importantly, 90 per cent of its 358Nm of torque output is available from a lowly 2,000rpm. That means impressive mid-range acceleration: we achieved a 30-70mph time of 5.3 seconds. The V6 was also developed to produce a more cultured sound. Press the throttle, and you are rewarded with a deep, bellowing roar from the twin exhausts. It’s tuneful and summons searing acceleration. The Nissan also offers traditional rear-wheel-drive handling, and is hugely involving. The precise steering is weighty and delivers clear feedback, while the powerful Brembo brakes have a firm but progressive pedal. Revised gear linkage means the lever no longer vibrates in your hand, but it still retains a short and precise shift action. However, some severe mid-corner bumps can send shudders through the bodyshell to the cabin. Yet the chassis is well-balanced, easy to control and enormous fun.
Marketplace The 350Z has always been a great-value sports car. Its blend of power and handling has appealed to those looking for maximum performance per pound. It was revised in 2007, but the styling was largely left well alone. In fact, walk past the Nissan, and you would be hard pressed to spot anything new: only that power bulge gives the game away. Yet it remains a real head-turner. It’s good value too, with bags of performance, an engaging chassis and a lengthy list of standard equipment – in both standard and GT guise. The Nissan’s most obvious rival is Audi’s TT, though the BMW Z4 also offers similarly muscular rear-drive fun. There’s also a Roadster version of the 350Z, as with both its rivals.
Owning Inside the well laid-out cabin, the thin-rimmed leather steering wheel is great to hold, while the stubby gearlever is positioned close to the driver. There are plenty of neat touches, too, such as the extra instruments on top of the dash and cowled dials ahead of the wheel. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. You still have to suffer a high-set driving position, as the seat base can’t be adjusted low enough. And there’s very little in the way of cubby space, with no glovebox and extremely small door pockets. Behind the passenger seat is a deep lockable compartment, but it is impossible to access this once on the move. The awkwardly shaped 235-litre load bay also provides restricted storage, although there’s a handy label in the boot showing you how to store two sets of golf clubs. However, the load cover only protects half the space from prying eyes. Refinement is still an issue too; despite a quieter tyre compound and improved drivetrain damping, the 350Z is still quite raucous. Wind noise in particular can be intrusive – combine this with a slightly harsh ride, and the Nissan becomes tiring over long distances. It also isn’t very economical – we averaged 19.8mpg – although retained values are excellent.