Nissan’s stylish 350Z was always a hot prospect on the road. It looked the part, steered well and had the power to jump from zero to 100km/h in under six seconds. Such packaging helped keep the 37-year-old Z legend alive, with more than 200,000 global owners happy to park a 350 in their driveway.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s May 2007 issue
What’s more, its VQ 3.5-litre V6 keeps racking up awards, winning a Wards ‘10 Best Engines’ gong every year for the last 13 years. But having just planted the next-generation VQ35HR 3.5-litre under the bonnets of the new Skyline and Infiniti G35, Nissan thought it was high time that the 350Z got the new donk, too. And good on ’em.
With its new power unit, the facelifted 350Z pumps out a healthy 230kW at 6800rpm, up from 221kW while torque rises 8Nm to 358Nm at 4800rpm. But you’ll have to look close to spot the cosmetic changes. In fact, the only sheet-metal modification was made directly above its all-new heart.
Thanks to its 80 percent-new component list, including a revised engine block and air cleaner, some 15mm was added to the height of the engine. That’s the reasoning behind that raunchy-looking bonnet bulge that actually takes its inspiration from the original 240Z of the late ’60s.
Classic MOTOR: 2004 350Z Roadster review
And it seems only fitting that all attention should be drawn to the coupe’s new engine via that contoured bulge, because that’s what lifts the Z’s driving experience an extra notch.
Behind the wheel at Japan’s ace Tsukuba Circuit, we immediately noticed how much freer the new VQ-HR unit spins to the 7500rpm redline. The outgoing engine was strong in the lower to mid-ranges, but lacked staying power through the top end. The HR sorts that.
Boasting a drier but beefier exhaust note that takes on an addictive roar above 5000rpm, the HR’s torque is especially inviting between 2000 and 3000rpm, stays on the boil through 5000, and then takes off again right up to 7500rpm.
At normal speeds, the Z’s steering is as precise and turn-in as sharp as it’s always been. If anything, the newly fitted Potenza RE050 tyres add more grip in the cornering and braking departments, lower noise levels and improve ride. Obviously, those four-pot Brembos still work their magic.
Push the Z as we did through the track’s long left-hand sweeper, and it will understeer at first, but feather the throttle and understeer soon turns to neutral steer before you can use the Z’s extra torque to control the car’s attitude on-throttle more progressively than before. The new Z makes you want to hold higher gears just so you can feast on the power and sound rush.
As well as the engine transplant, the ’07 spec 350Z also gets three new paint colours – Solar Orange, Carbon Silver, San Marino Blue – while on the inside, there are larger headrests with active restraints, to minimize the chances of neck injury in the event of a rear impact.
Prices remain unchanged for the manual at $67,990, while the auto is subject to a $2000 increase over the outgoing model. Both hit showrooms in April.
There's always a good dose of nostalgia on classic MOTOR
2007 NISSAN 350Z SPECS
Engine: 3494cc V6, DOHC, 24v
Power: 230kW @ 6800rpm
Torque: 358Nm @ 4800rpm
0-100km/h: 5.5sec (claimed)
Top speed: 282km/h (claimed)
Price: $67,990 (Track manual)
Pros: Quicker than ever, fantastically flexible engine, the best 350Z yet
Cons: Dealers who don’t give good trade-ins on your old model
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars