Nissan 350Z Roadster Track 2008 Review
Nissan's 350Z roadster is the Porsche for those who can't afford a Porsche.
The Japanese two-seater may not match a Boxster at the top end of driving dynamics.
Any Porsche has a certain amount of breeding, a continuous sports car heritage hard to ignore. A Porsche, belted hard, retains an amazing amount of mechanical finesse from engine response to road balance.
And, as with most German road machines, a Porsche has a certain amount of polished fit and finish. The Nissan Roadster, a little more raw in essence, is a very decent and desirable substitute for quite a few dollars less.
At $73,990 for the six-speed manual, this is a sports machine of some substance and value.
From the start, Nissan's 350Z Roadster looks the part, a rare soft-top machine that manages to look mean, menacing even, with roof in place. Both 21st century coupe and roadster Zeds have grace and muscle to body style, the soft-top's lower roofline adds further character to the low-slung stance.
Yet snug down in a decent driver's seat this low roof and narrow rear window do not hamper good visibility in most directions. (Anyway, with the agility and performance of this Nissan Roadster there is little need to keep too much of a weather eye on rear view mirrors.)
The cabin is comfortable, just enough room for two adults with electric adjustments on both seats, a couple of cubby holes and the usual array of comfort and convenience features.
These include the push-to-drop button for the roof, decent stereo system that pounds the bass notes into your back and a neat set of three binnacle dials for oil, battery and digital read-out for road speed. This last is of some use for the 350Z's tachometer dominates the instruments ahead of the driver, there's a smaller speedometer off to the right, a little hard to read quickly. Speeds do need to be monitored around here.
From the get-go the 350Z does not feel super, super fast, there is the hint of muscle but 1.5 tonne of car to get away. Maximum torque doesn't arrive until 4800rpm and maximum power until 6800rpm, which may help explain the Roadster's road speed becoming more linear as it rises.
But as road speeds rise, as the driver flicks up though those six manual ratios and that V6 spins into its stride, things began to pass by at a fair clip. It is a grand machine to hustle along.
The 350Z Roadster may not run through its paces with quite the finesse of the aforementioned Boxster, there is a little gruffness to the mechanicals at the high end of the revs, but it does the job with joy and accomplishment. (The coupe is a shade lighter which may help start-line jumps.)
These 2007 model Zeds score a reworked V6 with almost 80 per cent new bits, from dual intake system to a wider range for the variable valve timing, bigger crank journals plus a little more compression.
The VQ35HR weighs in the same as before but the centre of gravity is down a bit and the Nissan's bonnets now have a power bulge to better fit the powerplant. Power is up from 221kW to 230kW, torque lifts from 353Nm to 358Nm and maximum engine speed has increased by 500rpm to 7500rpm.
So there is plenty to work with here as the Roadster crouches, sprints and bellows down the bitumen.
The car feels rock solid, rides better than the first generation of this latest line of Zeds, turns in with feeling and hunkers down.
Here and there on this Track version the stability control system (yes, it's switchable) kicked in to correct some over exuberance but (on a dry road at least) it takes a bit for the Roadster to lose its manners.
Track versions also score four-piston calliper Brembo brakes for extra confidence.
It is a car for belting down the bitumen, top up or down, with sweet responses to steering wheel and throttle inputs. It remains eager and involves a driver, rewards driver input with excellent point-to-point times across the back country.
Conversely, this Roadster can be an easy shopping trolley (although two cartons of XXXX will fill the boot) and, apart from scraping low over some obnoxious speed humps, is easy to potter and park.
And, whether out for a tour or out for a shop, the Nissan 350Z Roadster always looks right; those 18-inch wheels filling those flared guards, that simple crouch and that uncomplicated rear style. It always looks right, it always looks like it's ready to do the business.
But a week with this car is long enough. It began to cost too many Lotto tickets, looking for those extra elusive dollars to add a 350Z to the garage.
Nissan 350Z Roadster Track
Body: Two-seat convertible
Engine: 3 litre V6
Power: 230KW @ 6800rpm
Torque: 358NM @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Dimensions (MM): 4315 (l), 1815 (w) 1323 (h)
Range and Specs
|Roadster Touring||3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$17,600 – 22,220||2008 Nissan 350Z 2008 Roadster Touring Pricing and Specs|
|Roadster Track||3.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$17,600 – 22,220||2008 Nissan 350Z 2008 Roadster Track Pricing and Specs|
|Touring||3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$16,980 – 19,990||2008 Nissan 350Z 2008 Touring Pricing and Specs|
|Track||3.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$14,190 – 18,700||2008 Nissan 350Z 2008 Track Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data