In 2002, Nissan launched their 2-seat sports car called the Nissan 350Z. It remained in production until 2009. Nissan 350Z marked the fifth generation model of the Nissan’s Z-car line. In the debut year, the car was offered only as a coupe in several versions including base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring and Track. Roadster was introduced later for the Enthusiast and Touring trims. The Track version featured lightweight wheels, Brembo brakes and the suspension was similar to all the coupes produced by Nissan. In 2009, the 250Z was replaced by the 370Z model.
In 1996 when the Nissan ceased the production of their Nissan 300ZX in US market, the company made an attempt to assemble 240Z for the next year to keep the Z name living. Nissan’s North American design team took an initiative to design the car and revealed the concept for the first time in the Four State Road Show in July 1998. On the occasion of receiving a motor industry award, Yutaka Katayama regarded as the “Father of the Z” unleashed the Z concept sketch to the world. His sketch displayed the modern vision of the original 240Z designed by Yoshihiko Matsuo.
The company revealed the Z concept formally at the Detroit Motor Show. It was in close resemblance to futuristic 240Z in body shape except for the front revised end. Later, the company opted for VQ35DE engine for its new concept model, hence giving it 350Z name after engine displacement.
240Z Concept (1999)
In 1999, the 240Z concept was unleashed by Nissan at the North American International Auto Show and Los Angeles Auto Expo. The 240Z concept was designed in the Nissan’s California design studio by Ajay Panchal. The concept was certainly gave a hint of reversion to the original 240Z, however, the running concept was a bright orange 2-seater with typical swept-back styling. The concept model came with a 2.4-L 4-cylinder KA24DE engine used in the Nissan Altima rated at 200 bhp (150 kW) and torque of 180 lb-ft (244 Nm). The focus while designing the concept model was given to the original 240Z for inspirational purposes and it took 12 weeks before finalizing the concept model.
Design and Layout
The 350Z was a 2-door, 2-seater sports car with a front-mid engine and rear-wheel drive layout. Like the previous Z-cars, the long-hood short-deck design was common in this concept model as well. In addition to this, it also featured a sloping fastback style roof line, unique brushed aluminum door handles, high waistline, and protruding fenders.
The 350Z coupe was launched in the US market on August 20, 2002. Initially, it was offered in five trim levels including: 350Z (Base), Enthusiast, Performance, Touring and Track editions. The European market only received the Track trim under the 350Z badge.
The 350Z Roadster was launched by Nissan in 2004 with electrically retractable soft-top roof. Only two trim levels of Roadster were offered in the US market including Enthusiast and Touring. However, the same versions were offered as coupe in the European market. For the 2005 model year, Nissan introduced another Grand Touring (GT) trim package as well.
To commemorate the 35th anniversary, Nissan released a 35th Anniversary Edition in 2005. It came with redesigned interior and exterior. It was offered with 6-speed manual transmission and featured a 300 hp and 260 lb-ft torque Rev-up engine. However, the models with automatic transmission continued to be sold with VQ35DE rated at 287 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque.
The mid-cycle facelift was released in 2006 with some prominent changes and modifications. The previous 300HP/260TQ Rev-up engine was made available for all trim levels from 2006 model onward. The models with 5-speed automatic transmission gave you VQ35DE engine rated at 287 hp and torque of 274 lb-ft. The new model now featured larger bi-xenon projector headlights, redesigned front bumper and taillights with LEDs. The interior also received some modifications. Radio-steering controls standard, MP3 CD compatibility and Satellite Radio were offered as an option with Touring and Grand Touring models.
The 350Z was once again revised for the 2007 model year. The previous VQ35DE V6 engine was dropped in the favor of new 3.5-L VQ35HR V6 engine, generating 306 hp (228 kW) at 6800 rpm and torque of 268 lb-ft (363 Nm) at 4800 rpm utilizing the improved SAE certified power benchmark. In order to facilitate the new VQ35HR V6, twin throttle engine, the hood was made protruded like the one in original 240Z. The trim levels offered in the US market were: 350Z (base), Enthusiast, Touring, and Grand Touring.
There were also some special editions produced for 350Z including: Type E (2004), Gran Turismo 4 Limited Edition, 35th Anniversary Edition (2005) and GT-S.
Apart from these special editions, there were some models produced by Nissan performance tuning division commonly called NISMO. Some of the NISMO Editions were: NISMO R-Tune (2004), NISMO S-Tune GT (2005), NISMO 350Z (2007–2008), NISMO Type 380RS (2007), and NISMO Type 380RS-Competition.