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Still love the 350Z


Not much, according to Nissan. The 35th Anniversary 350Z is about to go on sale and to mark the occasion Nissan has distinguished it with 15 extra kW, 800 more revs, a different 18-inch wheel, 10 less Newtonmetres of torque, a new paint treatment ... and a unique, spiffy ultra yellow paintjob (if you want it).

But what of the distinguishing badges, you ask? Nope. Nothing. Nada.

In a few years time – or perhaps within 12 months – this one is going to be barely distinguishable from the common or garden variety Track versions.

"There was no reason to put a special badge on the car," Nissan Australia product marketing manager Michael Hayes said at this week's launch. "It is something that was looked at [but] this is a car that will stand alone on its merits."

No argument that the 350Z is a special car. The drive program for the Anniversary model (across the Victorian Alps) showed yet again just how special this is. It also underlined just how little difference there is between the Track manual and the Anniversary.

For the $2000 premium on the Anniversary ($67,990, 6-speed manual only) you get the wheels, the colour and the right to kid yourself you noticed the difference in power.

The lift from 206kW to 221kW makes little or no discernible difference to the feel of the 350Z. Neither does the loss of 10Nm of urge.

Under the bonnet is one of the world's great V6 engines. The 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC unit is smooth as silk and strong as steel.

The car still leaps away from stationary with wonderful enthusiasm, has glorious mid-range urge in all gears and spins happily right to the redline -- in this case, 7000rpm.

There is a cost for those extra revs with fuel consumption slightly higher in the upper-11l/100km range. Dynamically, the 350Z Anniversary is the match of its Track donor and being essentially the same car there's no reason it wouldn't be. The ride can be a little jiggly at times, there is slight kickback through the very communicative steering when under full load and the gap between second and third leaves the driver a betwixt-and-between on occasion ... but they are minor irritations.

Roomy, comfortable and stylish, in a Japanese way, the interior offers an environment well suited to the car's dynamic capabilities.

Apart from the Anniversary's "unique" touchups, the entire 350Z range has been given a minor makeover. Automatics now include Nissan's Downshift Rev Matching, a computer-controlled blip of the throttle to optimise downshifts. The manual shifter gets a brush-up with a more refined feel.

The Roadster is the big winner with switchable Vehicle Dynamic Control and the performance Brembo brake package to match the Track and Anniversary.