KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
A bona fide legend in the sports car world, Nissan's 350Z had a 2007 revamp that brought mild cosmetic upgrades and major enhancements to its superb 3.5-liter V6 engine. This year, the 350Z Coupe lineup includes base, Enthusiast, Touring and Grand Touring models, as well as the hard-edged NISMO variant. Convertible fans also can take the open-air route with a 350Z Roadster (reviewed separately). Based on Nissan's brilliant FM (Front Mid-ship) platform, this attractively priced, rear-drive two-seater is aimed at competitors ranging from the Mitsubishi Eclipse GT and Ford Mustang GT Premium to its fraternal cousin, the Infiniti G37 Coupe. However, the 350Z has the performance to match well against even-costlier alternatives, like the Audi TT 3.2 Quattro, BMW Z4 3.0si Co
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a rear-wheel-drive sports car that offers scintillating performance, head-turning style, impressive amenities and an excellent price-to-value index, the 350Z Coupe should be high on your must-drive list.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Some may find the 350Z's ride quality -- especially in NISMO trim -- to be too harsh for their tastes. The look and feel of the 350Z's plastic interior trim still suffers by comparison to several of its competitors.
What's New for 2008
The only change for the 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe is the addition of Nogaro Red paint to its exterior color choices.
Composed and controllable in all trims, the 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe delivers an outstanding behind-the-wheel experience. Big credit goes to its world-class V6, with broad power and torque bands that ensure quick response, whether you're trapped in a tedious commute or out challenging some twisty back road. While we prefer the slick-shifting manual gearbox, the 350Z's electronically controlled automatic sacrifices little quickness in return for its added convenience in stop-and-go traffic conditions. Driver-selectable traction and stability controls let you decide just how much of the multilink suspension's phenomenal capabilities you care to explore, although its confidently firm ride quality does approach being borderline harsh on the NISMO. There's an equally quick and positive feel to the 350Z's speed-sensitive power steering, and its potent anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) add a reassuring measure of stopping security, especially the premium Brembo units on Grand Touring and NISMO models.
One of the world's most highly-acclaimed production engines, the fourth-generation "High Output" version of Nissan's VQ35 V6 underwent a comprehensive makeover for 2007, gaining design enhancements that significantly increased power and torque while improving fuel efficiency.
Modular Steering Column and Instrument Cluster
The 350Z's three-spoke sport steering wheel and main gauge pod adjust for rake angle as a single unit to ensure both a comfortable driving position and an unobstructed view of the legible yellow-on-black analog instruments.
Surprisingly spacious, even for a pair of six-footers, the 350Z's cabin features ergonomic control layouts, legible gauges and supportive, comfortable bucket seats. However, some of the plastic trim still lacks a premium look and feel. Open storage is limited and the covered center-console space modest, but smaller carry-alongs can be secured in a locking utility bin behind the passenger seat. Crowned with a large "Z" logo, the massive brushed-aluminum rear-strut brace was designed as much for style as for functionality. Admittedly cool looking, it dominates your view in the rearview mirror and seriously impacts usability of the Coupe's already minimal 6.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
The 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe has a classic long-nose and short-deck design that hearkens back to the look of the original 240Z. Its aggressive stance is accentuated by short front and rear overhangs, prominent fender flares, vertical aluminum door handles, bi-xenon headlights and super-bright LED taillights. The NISMO version is fitted with an aero-enhancing body kit. All models use Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires, and even the base 350Z rides on handsome 18-inch five-spoke cast-alloy wheels wrapped in W-rated 225/45 front and 245/45 rear tires. Both the Grand Touring and NISMO variants step up to staggered-size RAYS forged-alloys that wear 245/40 tires on 18-inch rims up front and 265/35 tires on 19-inch wheels in the rear.
Notable Standard Equipment
All five versions of the 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe share a common 3.5-liter V6, standard six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), bi-xenon headlights, a comprehensive roster of power assists, dual front airbags, automatic climate-control, AM/FM/CD stereo and more. Enthusiast models add traction control, a limited-slip differential, multifunction steering wheel and aluminum pedals while the Touring brings Vehicle Dynamic Control (with manual transmission only), leather-covered heated seats, a premium Bose audio with MP3 capability and six-disc CD changer and Bluetooth. The Grand Touring and NISMO versions add Brembo brakes and upgraded staggered-size wheels and tires, with the NISMO also getting a unique aero body kit, front-side and side-curtain airbags and stiffer suspension tuning.
Notable Optional Equipment
Even at base level, the 350Z Coupe is impressively equipped and, save for the feature upgrades that define the ascending trim levels, options are quite limited. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode can be substituted for the standard six-speed manual gearbox on all but the entry-level 350Z and NISMO models. The only other extras are Nogaro Red paint, a DVD-based navigation system and side-impact and side-curtain airbags.
Under the Hood
Regardless of trim level or transmission type, all versions of the 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe share the same 3.5-liter V6 engine. Made from lightweight aluminum and fitted with efficiency-enhancing continuously variable valve timing, this fourth generation of Nissan's award-winning VQ35 family produces a stout 306 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque. Even more impressive, over 90 percent of that peak torque is on hand between 2000 and 7000 rpm, so it's almost always operating in a high-enthusiasm mode. Back it with the manual gearbox and you can expect six well-matched gear ratios, a smooth-acting short-throw shift linkage and acceleration from zero to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. Choose the optional electronically controlled five-speed automatic, that features a manual mode plus a rev-matching throttle-blip feature to ensure smoother downshifts, and that benchmark sprint will take roughly six seconds.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe line runs from just under $29,000 for a base model to just below $39,000 for the top-line NISMO, figures that mitigate sticker shock and ensure a fairly broad appeal to typical target buyers. Between those two margins are the volume-leading Enthusiast, Touring and Grand Touring models, the only 350Zs that can be ordered with the optional automatic transmission ($1,000). Historically, this well-loved Nissan sportster has parlayed its near cult-car status into impressive residual values. That trend is expected to carry on for 2008, when it's projected to outshine virtually all other vehicles in its competitive segment, with resale figures for the base Coupe marginally better than those for the other models in the lineup.