Even if you look closely you won’t see anything. No badge celebrating 35 years of the Zed car, no plaque, nothing. Well almost nothing.
This feature was originally published in MOTOR’s May 2005 issue
The keen-sighted will notice the 35th Anniversary 350Z redlines at 7000rpm (up from 6600rpm), sits on new design 18-inch alloys and is offered in an all-new and exclusive colour: Ultra Yellow. But that’s about all there is to tell you you’re looking at anything out of the box.
According to Nissan’s manager of product marketing Michael Hayes, the car doesn’t need a celebratory badge. “Only available for 12 months the 35th Anniversary 350Z stands on its own merits,” he said at the Zed’s recent launch. Hmm.
Oddly enough, elsewhere in the world this car is known not just as the 35th Anniversary edition, but the GT4 limited edition inspired by the latest version of the Gran Turismo series. Oddly Nissan Australia’s spin doctors flatly deny or know of any Nissan/GT4 connection. Double hmm.
A lack of badging aside, the 35th Anniversary 350Z is a bit special. For one, it cops a seven percent power increase over standard giving it 221kW at 6400rpm (up from 206kW at 6200rpm).
Running the same sweet 3.5-litre V6, Nissan’s boffins squeezed out the extra power with revisions to the camshaft and exhaust valve timing. This power hike has come at the cost of torque, though, which drops 10Nm to a still substantial 353Nm, and still produced at 4800rpm.
And you get all of this for a $2000 premium. The 35th Anniversary Zed costs $67,990 in six-speed manual only.
This is all well and good but does the darn thing drive any differently to the oft-praised 350Z Track on which it’s based? Well, I’d be pulling your leg if I said the power hike made much of a difference or that I noticed the drop in torque. But that’s not damning the 350Z – no one ever criticised it for not having enough get-gone.
The 350Z storms off the line (launched perfectly we reckon the Zed will nail 0-100km/h in high fives) and offers plenty of mid-range punch. A real grunter, the Zed offers the best of both worlds – it’ll happily slog uphill in fourth gear pulling from 2000rpm, or go like a rocket screaming its head off above 6000rpm.
Thanks to an improved close-ratio six-speed ’box, swapping from one gear to another with the short throw lever is quick, easy, smooth and bloody precise.
Through the twists and turns the 350Z is as sweet as ever, with amazing grip. With plenty of feel straight ahead and off centre the 350Z’s talkative steering makes it the perfect weapon to blast along a mountain pass. Turn-in is sharp, and the harder you drive it the more hunkered-down the Zed feels. Only under hard cornering is there slight steering kick back.
It’s through corners, or rather, punching out of them that you notice the lift in power. The 600rpm-higher redline allows you to hold gears longer to make the most of the extra urge on offer. Yep, at the upper end of the scale the 350Z breathes better and feels a tad sharper with, thanks to the electromagnetic exhaust valve timing and a new airbox, a slight hardening of the engine note above 6000rpm.
Ride quality has seemingly improved too. Where the Track feels like a rock, becoming skittish over mid-corner bumps and on patchy surfaces, this Zed doesn’t. It’s stiff, sure – it’s riding on 18s – and has the same suspension as the Track but it seems to be more compliant, flowing with the road rather than fighting it.
And while the design of the new 18-inch wheels is a bit love/hate, they look eerily similar to the Mazda RX-8’s alloys, 350Z’s main sports rival.
Inside, nothing has changed. The seats are still mounted nice and low, deep in the bowels of the Zed with all controls falling easily to hand. The only criticism – and it’s a minor one – is the seats themselves: the leather’s a little slippery and though the base and centre console hugs the legs, they lack shoulder support.
I’d also bag the rear vision, shoulder checks are a nightmare with vision obscured by the thick pillars. And the rear strut brace limits the amount of luggage you can carry. Who needs luggage, though? All you really want is a lonely, winding road. Everything else is immaterial.
2005 Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary
Engine: 3.5-litre DOHC V6
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