2007 Nissan 350Z Reviews and Ratings

Coupe 2D NISMO

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2007 Nissan 350Z
Steve Schaefer

Introduction
The Nissan 350Z was extensively upgraded for 2006, and for 2007 Nissan turned its attention to the engine, which has been redesigned for substantially more power. This brought a styling bonus. Because the more powerful engine needed better breathing, the 2007 Nissan 350Z gets a new hood and front fascia that sucks in more air.

The new 3.5-liter V6 engine is used in all seven models of the 350Z. Something like 80 percent of the parts in the engine are new for 2007. On paper, the 2006 engine was rated 300 horsepower. For 2007 the output has been raised to 306 hp, but the increase is more than 6 hp because beginning in 2007 there's a more stringent industry standard for measuring horsepower, as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The Nissan 350Z is fast, fun, and pure sports car. It costs about 10 times as much as the original 240Z, which went for about $3500, but in today's dollars that's only twice as much (as calculated by the Consumer Price Index). But you get about 10 times the car, so you're still way ahead.

Improvements for 2006 included upsized alloy wheels, tighter rack-and-pinion steering, bigger brakes, better headlamps, and a higher quality sound system. For 2007, side-impact air bags are added as standard equipment to the Roadster, and two Coupe models get the Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System with steering wheel-mounted controls.

When you consider components such as a carbon-fiber driveshaft and drive-by-wire throttle, as well as the convenience features that come standard, such as automatic temperature control and a premium stereo, the price of $27,900 for the Base Coupe is compelling. Of course, the other six models escalate in price, to $41,250 for a Grand Touring Roadster with optional five-speed automatic transmission. But they all come standard with that 306-hp engine and six-speed manual transmission.

The 350Z is a true-blue sports car with creature comforts. Its firm ride, abrupt throttle response, and awkward cup holders don't make it a great place to drink coffee and make phone calls on the way to work, but there's a lot of cargo space for a sports car, and it isn't awkward to climb in and out. The excellent optional five-speed automatic makes a civilized commuter car, while still making you happy during a weekend run down a racer road.

The Nissan 350Z delivers more than the promise of its powerful looks. It's a visceral sports car with serious performance that you can live with every day. The Roadster adds wind-in-your hair freedom. Model Lineup
Seven models of the 2007 Nissan 350Z are available: four Coupes and three Roadsters. All come with the 3.5-liter V6 engine making 306 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, and either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic.

The base 350Z 6MT Coupe ($27,900) comes standard with automatic temperature control, 160-watt AM/FM/CD with six speakers, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote entry, vehicle security system, heated outside mirrors, cloth seats with eight-way manual driver and four-way manual passenger adjustments, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter boot, 18-inch alloy wheels, and bi-Xenon HID headlights and LED taillights.

The 350Z Coupe Enthusiast comes with the six-speed manual ($29,600) or five-speed automatic ($30,600) and adds cruise control, traction control, viscous limited slip differential, aluminum pedals, HomeLink universal transceiver, illuminated steering wheel audio controls and electro-chromic rearview mirror.

The 350Z Coupe Touring ($32,700) adds heated power leather seats, a 240-watt Bose CD6/MP3 sound system with seven speakers. Electronic stability control (VDC) is included with the manual. It also comes with the automatic ($33,200).

The 350Z Coupe Grand Touring ($36,100) adds lightweight forged-alloy wheels (18 inches front, 19 inches rear), front and rear spoilers, Brembo brakes, and VDC for both the manual and automatic transmissions ($37,100). These high-performance components came on the 2006 Track model that's been discontinued.

The 350Z Roadster Enthusiast ($35,550) features power seats, a glass rear window with rear defroster, and a rear wind deflector.

The 350Z Roadster Touring ($37,900) adds heated leather seats and the Bose sound system.

The 350Z Roadster Grand Touring ($40,250) adds forged alloy wheels, spoilers, Brembo brakes, and VDC.

Safety features include dual-stage front supplemental air bags, front and rear body crumple zones, and active head restraints (except with Burnt Orange net seats). The Z earned NHTSA's five-star rating for side-impact crash test safety. Antilock brakes with EBD (electronic front-rear braking balance), brake assist and traction control are standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system. Side-impact airbags are standard on Roadsters, and a package including side-impact airbags and airbag curtains is optional ($620) on the Coupes.

Options include 18-inch chrome wheels ($1660), an aero package ($530), and a DVD-based navigation system ($1800). NISMO high-performance parts are available, including racier shocks, springs, sway bars and an exhaust system. Walkaround
Not much has changed with the looks of the Nissan 350Z in recent years. But for 2007 there is one distinctive and telltale feature: a big hump in the hood. That was necessary to make room for the new engine, which has a taller cylinder block and longer connecting rods, among other things. The new engine gets more air without any changes to the grille opening, which contains horizontal bars. There are three new colors for 2007: Solar Orange, San Marino Blue and Carbon Silver. The Roadster gets an optional gray convertible top, for 2007, replacing the high-profile blue one; basic black remains standard.

The massive vertical bi-Xenon HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps produce a white light, and the new LED (light emitting diode) taillights provide quicker response for the brake lights than filament bulbs.

The bulging fenders and fastback and short front and rear overhangs give the Coupe its aggressive stance. This taut body layout, coupled with weight savings gained from a carbon fiber-reinforced, plastic driveshaft and an aluminum hood (and on the Roadster, a plastic trunk lid), balance the Z well for responsive handling.

The Coupe's sleek shape helps the Z slice through the air with a minimum of drag: 0.29 Cd on the Grand Touring. The Roadster's cut-off backlight (rear windscreen) isn't nearly as slippery, attaining a drag coefficient of 0.34 Cd. Underbody airflow is managed well, with zero lift on the front, and zero lift on the rear of the Coupe Grand Touring thanks to new diffusers. Interior
The Nissan 350Z cockpit is designed for driving, helping the driver quickly become one with the car. Cloth or leather are good choices in this car. The cloth seats are form-fitting, supportive and comfortable, made of a soft, carbon-fiber colored material that grips the body in the corners. The driver's seat bottom features a mound in the center at the front to restrain the driver from sliding forward under deceleration, known as submarining. Aggressive side bolsters grip the waist to hold the driver in place, especially in the Roadster models, which give the driver a more aggressively bolstered seatback. The leather seats in the Touring model feel firmer than those in cloth, and are available in charcoal, burnt orange or frost. The supportive seats and a driver's dead pedal mean you never feel like you have to hang on.

Our Roadster Grand Touring came with the mesh seats, which are the only seats that lack adjustable headrests. We can't see the tradeoff for ventilation being worthwhile. Also, the leg bolstering dug into the sides of our thighs. We haven't noticed that with the regular leather seats. Once underway, however, we forgot about that initial discomfort. We drove some 700 miles in the Roadster GT, almost all of them on two-lanes while cornering, accelerating and braking hard (we used the dead pedal a lot), and the seat didn't wear on us as much as we expected it to. But we still think cloth might be better than the mesh.

The seating position should be good for drivers with long legs, though the steering wheel felt a little close when the seat was adjusted for the legs of a six-footer. The Roadster boasts an inch more headroom than the hatchback, thanks to the articulation of the top's various mechanicals.

Tilt the steering column and the main pod of gauges moves with it, ensuring a clear view of the instruments for drivers of all sizes. The instruments consist of a big tachometer and flanking speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges. Nestled in three pods on top of the dash are a voltmeter, an oil pressure gauge and a digital trip computer. Reminiscent of the original Z, they look retro-cool, but reading them requires more than a glance.

Two toggles to the right of the steering wheel operate the trip computer, used to check outside air temperature, distance to empty, speed, average mileage, and average speed. It has a stopwatch function (to check out 0-60 times or lap times on a circuit or maybe for running a Monte Carlo style rally), and a tire-pressure monitor. With the Trip Computer, the driver can program a shift light to come on at a certain rpm. The small red indicator on the tachometer begins flashing about 500 rpm before the preset engine speed is reached, whereupon it comes on solid. You can program it for the ideal shift points for acceleration or for fuel economy, then let your peripheral vision pick up the indicator, which might prove more precise than using the seat of your pants. We've seen race cars with this feature (though the red shift light in those is sometimes as big as a golf ball). If you don't like this feature you can turn it off.

The interior of the Z suggests the carbon-fiber tub of a prototype racecar. The material surrounding the shifter and forming the center dash looks like carbon fiber. Likewise, the large expanse of gray material lining the door panels suggests carbon fiber in appearance. The quality of the materials is okay, though some of the pieces would never be allowed in an Audi. It looked austere at first, but grew on us. Stylish interior touches, such as the inside door handles integrated into aerodynamic pods for the side vents, give the Z a racy, modern look; with the AC at work on hot days, the handles chill to fit their frosty look. Passengers often grope for the door release the first time they try to get out, distracted by the big grab handles adorned with genuine aluminum and relieved by the Z's dot motif.

Audio controls are stylish and include a big volume knob, clearly marked buttons for channel seeking, and six station buttons that can be preset simply by holding them down. Below the radio are three large knobs for the automatic climate control system, which comes standard.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel looks and feels great, and comes with cruise controls. Overhead in the Coupe are well-designed map lights and a bin for sunglasses; in the Roadster, map lights beam out of the underside of the rearview mirror, which isn't as good. Power window switches are auto-up/auto-down. Nissan has responded to drivers' pleas for a place to plug in a radar detector by moving the power point previously located in the center console to the lower dash on the passenger side. A second power point remains in the bulkhead between and behind the seats, so you can power your cell phone, too.

The Z does not invite the consumption of beverages, hot or cold. There's a pair of cup holders in the center console, but they're mounted too far to the rear for easy access by the driver, and passengers will find them awkward. It might be best to ditch the cup holders and use the center console for storage. Each door hosts a cup holder molded into the forward portion of the map pocket, but the fit is tight and the door panel too vertical to accommodate anything broader than a soda can. The firm suspension makes drinking hot coffee from an open cup while underway a risky proposition on all but the smoothest highways. We recommend drinking your coffee at the coffee shop. This is a sports car, not a cruiser.

At first it doesn't seem like the Z offers much in the way of storage. For starters, there's no glovebox. Cars without the navigation system get a nice lined storage pocket above the radio; Nissan has fitted it with a lid hinged so that it closes easily and naturally, replacing the previous system that required grasping the lid between thumb and finger, pulling it out and carefully pressing it closed. There's a small, lined compartment on the center tunnel, another small, drawer-like bin in the dash to the right of the center stack, a spot on the outside of each seat for a pen or pencil and a net tacked to the drive tunnel in the passenger footwell.

Turn around, though, and the picture brightens considerably where a thoughtfully designed system of storage compartments provides handy places to stick stuff. From the driver's seat, you can access a large lockable box, bigger than a shoebox but smaller than a breadbox, built into the bulkhead behind the passenger seatback. When stopped, but without getting out of the car or opening a door, it's easy to flip the passenger seatback forward via a handle in the center of the seatback. Then, it's a simple matter to open a lid that reveals the storage bin. The lockable lid has a quality feel to it and the bin is lined to keep things from rattling about.

As the only lockable storage inside the car, this bin becomes a critical feature in the Roadster, and it falls short of expectations. Unlike with the Coupe, the passenger seatback in the Roadster has no mechanical release for tipping it forward. Instead, you press a rocker switch ungainly situated on the back side of the seatback; conveniently, it's an automatic, press-and-release process for tilting the seatback forward, but re-reclining the seatback requires holding the button during the entire process, often leaving you with a somewhat cramped arm. Also, in the admittedly unlikely event the car's battery dies or becomes disconnected, you're stuck without whatever you locked up securely out of your reach because you can't move the power seat. So don't put your emergency cell phone or wallet in there. A smaller bin is mounted higher and somewhat more awkwardly toward the center that could hold a map, checkbook, wallet, PDA or cell phone. Identical bins on the driver's side in the Coupe are accessed when standing outside the car by flipping the driver's seatback forward; in the Roadster, the larger of these gives way to the subwoofer that comes with the uplevel stereo in the Touring and Grand Touring models.

Cargo in the back of the Coupe rides in an hourglass-shaped well, squeezed in the middle by the shock towers and the big strut-tower brace that ties them together. (That cross brace is functional: Hatchbacks allow body flex and the Z's chassis engineers wanted to ensure a rigid monocoque.) The Z offers more cargo capacity than a Mazda MX-5, but less than a Porsche 911 or Boxster. We're comparing small boxes here. An avid golfer at Nissan says two golf bags will fit in the cargo compartment, if you pull the big woods out of the bag and load them separately.

The Roadster's trunk at 4.1 cubic feet is the smallest of the lot. Nissan alleges accommodations for a golf bag, posting a diagram on the underside of the trunk lid depicting which end of the bag to insert first.

The Roadster's power top operates similarly to that of the Boxster's. Prepping for windblown hair is a simple matter of pressing the foot brake and working a flat, rocker-type switch in the lower dash to the right of the steering column. Manual manipulation of a handle mounted in the center of the top's front bow is required to latch or unlatch it. The top retracts into a recess occupying the upper part of the trunk and is covered by a cleanly sculpted body panel that opens and closes as needed, avoiding the hassle of dealing with one of those detachable covers that many people throw into some dark corner of the garage. The top is unlined, with all the bows and links and pivots exposed. Driving Impressions
We had one of the best drives of our life in the Roadster GT. Seven hundred miles in two days, almost entirely on isolated winding roads in central California, in beautiful weather. The whole time, we passed just one sheriff in an SUV coming the other direction; and we were careful not to terrorize fellow motorists. We kept an eye out for animals. But the road was otherwise ours, and drove the 350Z as it was meant to be driven: fast, alert, and under control.

Some of the time we had the top up because it was winter and crisp; but it was also sunny so other times we dropped it. Buffeting at high speeds was reduced by the tempered glass deflector between the rollbars behind the seats, and by the racy body fairings tapering back like headrests. Nearing the end of the first day's drive, we looked in the mirror and saw the setting sun reflecting off the rump of the Z, as it twitched on its fat tires around the curves.

There was long series of second-gear twisties, no upshifting at all, just using the gas and brakes hard, keeping the engine between 4000 rpm and 7500 rpm, a rhythmic revving and braking, revving and braking. The 350Z excels at this stuff. The 268 pound-feet of torque peaks at 4800 rpm but begins to come on strong enough to use at about 3000 rpm.

The engine makes a wonderful sound, a raspy roar, not a deep-chested V8 rumble but more of a junkyard dog don't-mess-with-me bark. You can especially hear it in second gear because it accelerates quickly. It's a unique sound and we can always identify a Nissan V6 accelerating without turning to look. Revving through the gears, it feels like it wants to break through its 7500 rpm redline, which represents an increase of 500 rpm over last year's engine.

We love the six-speed manual. The five-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive; and it's neat when the engine blips on its own, with each aggressive downshift (Nissan calls this DRM, Downshift Rev Matching). But with the automatic, the redline of the engine is only 6600 rpm. If you buy an automatic, you're robbing yourself of the joy of hearing the top 900 revs.

The engine belongs to Nissan's VQ-series that has been on Ward's "10 Best Engines" list for 14 consecutive years, and we can see why. The close-ratio six-speed gearbox was meant for shifting, with sixth gear being the big overdrive for better fuel mileage. And by the way, the new more powerful engine gets one or two more miles per gallon than the previous 3.5-liter.

The Grand Touring model gets bigger rotors with Brembo calipers, four pistons in front and two in rear, and larger pads. The brakes are steady, secure, confidence-inspiring. We were using them repeatedly and hard. When we began to smell them, it was time to ease off. What this means is that if you plan on driving your 350Z hard, you need to go with the GT models with these brakes, because the standard brakes won't resist fade well enough.

The GT also uses the lightweight five-spoke forged alloy wheels, 18 inches in front, 19 rear, mounted with 245/40WR18 and 265/35WR19 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires. They are super sticky, but there must still have been some slipping, because when we floored it coming out of a turn in second gear, we could see the VDC light flash. But we never felt an intrusion. Could be that the rear brakes were being dabbed, at something like 500 times a second; sometimes we never felt anything, and other times we heard a hiccup out the exhaust, indicating a split second cut of ignition or throttle or something. Driving like this, we appreciated the Tire Pressure Monitor System, eliminating worries at speed of a low tire.

The suspension uses aluminum components to keep down the unsprung weight. It feels pretty stiff, but you can still use the GT as a daily driver and not be uncomfortable, although the more compliant and better-fitting seats than the GT's leather/mesh helps. The GT is stiff enough for a track day (but not really ready for racing, which is why they sell the NISMO shock, springs and sway bars). We found the limit of the suspension, in bumpy off-camber curves taken at 90 percent under braking. Throw all those things at most suspensions at once, and you'll likely go flying off the road. The 350Z protested with a twitch or two, but didn't go anywhere.

The engine is mounted behind the front axle, a position Nissan calls its FM for front mid-ship, and this provides pretty good balance: 53/47. The speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering was always the right sensitivity at any speed, and that's saying a lot. In other words, we didn't notice it. We just felt the precision of the turn-in. Summary
The Nissan 350Z offers visceral sports car performance at an attainable price. Its rear-wheel-drive chassis is rigid, and the suspension and tires are up for the challenge of hard cornering. The new V6 engine delivers good torque at reasonably low revs, as well as 306 horsepower with a thrilling 7500 rpm redline. The six-speed manual gearbox is racier than the five-speed automatic, so we recommend the Grand Touring models with the six-speed, because you'll probably be driving it hard, and the GTs have better brakes. But either way you get the style and the engine. The interior is the weakest link, but you can get comfortable with a little time spent living with it.

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from central California; Tom Lankard and Mitch McCullough contributed to this report.

Model as tested
Nissan 350Z Roadster Grand Touring 6MT ($40,250)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Tochigi, Japan
Destination charge
615
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
27900
Price as tested
41185
Options as tested
Carpeted floor mats ($90); Convenience Net ($50); aluminum kick plates ($110); carpeted trunk mat ($70)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Nissan 350Z 6MT ($27,900); Enthusiast 6MT ($29,600); Enthusiast AT ($30,600); Touring 6MT ($32,700); Touring AT ($33,200); Grand Touring 6MT (36,100); Grand Touring AT ($37,100); Roadster Enthusiast 6MT ($35,550); Roadster Enthusiast AT ($365050); Roadster Touring 6MT ($37,900); Roadster Touring AT ($38,900); Roadster Grand Touring 6MT ($40,250); Roadster Grand Touring AT ($41,250)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage, frontal airbags; seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters; passenger side child safety seat tether anchor; ABS with EBD and brake assist; tire pressure monitor system; side-impact airbags (Roadster); Vehicle Dynamic Control (most models)
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
3.5-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions
6-speed manual

Specifications as Tested
automatic temperature control; 4-way power driver's seat; 4-way power passenger seat; power windows, mirrors and keyless-remote, central locking; 240-watt, AM/FM/CD/MP3 RDS Bose stereo with six-disc, in-dash changer, 6 speakers plus subwoofer and Bose AudioPilot noise compensation; tilt steering with integrated gauge cluster; cruise control; HomeLink universal transceiver; switchable, auto-dimming rearview mirror; trip computer; oil pressure gauge; voltmeter; cross-drilled aluminum pedals; dual-illuminated visor vanity mirrors; leather-appointed steering wheel, shift knob and heated seats; vehicle security system; vehicle immobilizer; bi-xenon, HID headlamps; seal-tight windows

Engine & Transmission
Engine
3.5-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Drivetrain type
rear-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
306 @ 6800
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
19/26
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented disc/vented disc with ABS, EBD, and Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent 3-link, coil springs, dual-piston gas shocks, stabilizer bar and strut bar
Tires
260/40WR18 / 265/35WR19
Suspension, rear
independent 4-link, coil springs, dual-piston gas shocks, stabilizer bar

Accomodations
Seating capacity
2
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.2/53.2/42.6
Head/hip/leg room, rear
N/A

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
4.1
Wheelbase
104.3
Length/width/height
169.8/71.5/52.5
Turning circle
35.4
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
not recommended
Track, front/rear
60.5/60.6
Ground clearance
4.7
Curb weight
3602


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