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The 2003 Nissan 350Z provides dedicated performance, hugging the road, and offering steering capabilities that will please even the most demanding of drivers. Powerful and attractive, this two-door hatchback will soon be available in a convertible version as well.
39 Reviews from Epinions.com
Nov 30, 2002
The Z is BACK and it won't be denied!
Pros: Power, performance, well designed, acceptable as a daily driver, incredible value
Cons: Small trunk, crappy speakers, heavy, unforgiving ride on rough road, hard to get
The Bottom Line:
Nissan has brought us a sports car that succeeds on every level. We get ample power, masterful ride, great safety features, Nissans reliability, and an incredible price.
There are five models available to choose from, ranging from the absurdly cheap $26000 Base model to the tricked out $34,000 Track version. The Base model comes with power locks/mirrors/windows, a leather steering wheel, automatic climate control and a 160-watt sound system with a CD changer and power leather seats. You also get a manual gearbox and limited-slip differential. From the base model, you can move up to the Enthusiast. This model has all the above features plus traction control, xenon headlamps and aluminum pedals. The Performance model adds VDC, tire-pressure monitors and 18-inch wheels. The Touring model gets a 240-watt sounds system with CD changer and power leather seats. The Track model gets all the other high tech equipment, plus Brembo brakes. DVD navigation system and side airbags are stand-alone options for all the models.
Inside the cabin, the doors sit high and you sit really low. It's pretty hard to get out of this car; it's like a bathtub. Big knobs control the A/C and audio, which are comfortable and well designed. Speaking of A/C and audio, the climate control on this car works great. Unfortunately, the speaker system in this car sounds horrible. The speakers sound muffled and hollow and the CD player skips more then not. One of the first things I would do is replace the speaker system with an Alpine offering. The styling is very futuristic, you're either going to love it or hate it (you'll probably love it, everyone else does). The main gauges are in a pod that is attached to the steering wheel; it will raise and lower when you adjust the wheel. Supplemental gauges can be found above the navigation system in the middle of the dash. The gauges are so far to the right; it isn't practical to scan them often. Optional navigation control is a great feature. Seats are comfortable and have the option of leather. The interior is a bit spartan, but is a quality construction. Rear window visibility is not terrific. A massive brace across the cargo area does wonders for the stability of the car, but also does wonders for cutting down functional cargo space. Make no mistake; this is a very small trunk.
The exterior design of this car is every bit as revolutionary as the Audi TT. Sleek lines and sloping, smooth curves adorn this car. You can easily see that this car was designed with speed in mind. From the neat metal door handles and optional 18" alloy rims to the sleek badging, this is one hot car. Every Z owner I've talked to said they constantly have a flock of admirers closing in when they park somewhere. Prepare to be noticed.
Engine and Suspension:
The powerful 3.5L V6 squeezes out 287hp. This is the same engine found in the Maxima and Altima sedans, as well as the Infiniti G35. While those cars put out different power numbers, this is the same engine (with a few tweaks). I really like this engine; its a very well established platform. Acceleration is impressive. From 0 to 100 mph you'll get ample power. Expect a zero to 60 mph time of 5.5 seconds! The six speed manual is a remarkably smooth transmission with a short throw and easy learning curve. The five speed automatic is the sport-shift variety that utilizes slapping /- gate to shift. The new Z uses the FM chassis, which Nissan says is as close to a racecar as they get. Thanks to that, you'll experience very little body roll or high speed lift. What does that mean? It means that you can take corners with authority, control is excellent. A word of warning though: If you hit the corners too hard, you'll be greeted with substantial understeer.
The Z comes with a large 20 gallon tank and gets 20 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. This is a large gas tank for this size car, which adds a bit of weight. Gas mileage is about what you should expect for this high power V6. Unfortunately, you will be paying for premium gasoline, not cheap. You should be able to get 400 miles in city driving and 520 miles on the highway before filling up.
The reliability of this car is impossible to ascertain, as it just came out. The only thing we can do is attempt to speculate based on the reliability of the current Maxima and Altima, which the 350Z shares many parts with. In respect to the other two cars, Nissan has above average reliability, I certainly wouldn't be worried.
This car has safety features everywhere. You can expect excellent four-wheel vented disc brakes from Brembo (option over factory brakes) with ABS. You will also get Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, and optional Vehicle Dynamic Control. In addition to those technological marvels, you can expect dual front airbags and optional sidebags.
This is perhaps the most fun car Ive driven in years. The engine has loads of torque, and offers great acceleration at any speed. The engines sound is a nice middle ground between the deep, throaty Camaro V8 and the annoying screech of the high revving S2000. The manual transmission was a pleasure, as the short throw knob seemed to know exactly where I wanted it to go (with the push of two fingers). The clutch is gentle as well. The ride is smooth for the most part, but the sport suspension is unforgiving on bumpy or uneven roads. This car takes corners very well, with minimal body role. I found that quite surprising considering the bloated 3200lb. average weight. The Brembo brakes gave me stop-on-a-dime agility. The seats were comfortable and the interior made me feel like I was piloting a rocket ship. Everywhere I went, I was also swarmed with people who wanted to know every little thing about the Z.
People who are interested in this car should also look at:
1. New Mazda RX-8
2. Ford Mustang GT
3. Honda S2000
Nissan has brought us a sports car that succeeds on every level. We get ample performance from its powerful V6, masterful ride from its racing suspension, all the latest tech gadgets and safety features, Nissans reliability, and an incredible price. The words out, thats why theres a year-long waiting list to get a Z. Despite the wait, this car is well worth it.
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