NISSAN UPDATES 350Z COUPÉ
More power, plus styling changes
Nissan is giving its performance coupé, the 350Z, a mid-life tweak.
It gets more power from a higher revving version of the 3.5-litre V6 with 296bhp and a 7,000 rpm redline, up from 284bhp, which shaves 0.1 second off the 0-62mph time -- it's now 5.8 seconds.
Nissan, which is aware of the image boost the 350Z has given the company's otherwise lack-lustre range, said that the performance changes were achieved by "traditional methods" -- which means hardware upgrades not a re-chip.
With the aim of raising the rev limit and boosting power, the major changes allow the engine to breath more freely thanks to a redesigned intake duct. Along with new pistons and a revised camshaft profile, the intake manifold has also been shortened and widened. The timing chain and oil pump have been redesigned and electronic exhaust valve timing control has been adopted.
A number of other components have been lightened and stiffened to reduce internal friction and to enable them to withstand higher engine speeds. As well as raising power output and rev limits, the engine is now fully compliant with Euro IV emission regulations.
Torque however is down, from 267lb-ft to 260lb-ft. According to Nissan, the revised torque curve is far flatter than before and provides greater torque reserves at higher rpm. Torque delivery in the original 350Z fell off comparatively steeply once that 4,800 rpm peak had been reached. In the latest evolution, the torque curve remains more linear as engine speeds rise: at 6,000 rpm, for example, the new engine delivers 15lb-ft more torque than its predecessor.
What the changes mean in practice is sharper acceleration through the gears. With the rev limit raised to 7,000 rpm, for example, maximum speed in third gear increases from 88 mph to 93 mph.
In all other respects, the front-mid-mounted engine and drivetrain remain as before, with front to rear weight distribution of 53:47. Power is transmitted rearwards via a short-throw close-ratio six-speed gearbox and ultra-lightweight, one piece, carbon-fibre propshaft.
Just one change has been made to the 350Z’s race-bred multi-link chassis: the adoption of speed dependent power steering. Designed to give increased assistance at parking speeds for easier manoeuvrability, the electric system weights up at higher speeds to provide steering with more positive feel and greater feedback.
In all other respects, the new 350Z’s chassis is as before.
Exterior updates include a restyled front end, and new headlamps with LED tail-lamps. Though the overall shape of the lamp assembly remains unchanged, new bi-xenon projector lamps, augmented by 42-element LED side lights, have been adopted. A new front bumper incorporates a revised lower grille and a smoother profile with deeper scallops ahead of the front wheels for a more aggressive look. Two new exterior colours have been added: silver and a new black metallic.
Meanwhile, the interior gets:
- Repositioned switchgear,
- Soft-feel materials
- More storage
- Factory-fitted navigation option
- Speed dependent power steering
- Standard Bluetooth phone integration (coupé only)
Prices are up however, but will be announced closer to the car’s April introduction.
Nissan reckoned that it's sold around 160,000 examples globally to date. In Europe, where the 350Z coupé – specifically tuned for European tastes – arrived in late 2003 and was joined by the Roadster in March 2005. In two years, Nissan has sold over 12,500 examples of the two-seater coupé, plus 2,500 Roadsters.
Today, the sales split between the two models is around 60/40 per cent in favour of the coupé, with UK buyers more enthusiastic than either the Germans or French.