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Nissan 350Z Touring 2005 review

The Japanese carmaker could have played with the styling or the mechanicals, but thankfully, the Z-team has seen fit to let the chiselled two-door coupe and convertible remain, aesthetically at least, largely unchanged.

It already had plenty of power, a strong chassis package and an uncompromising attitude to issues such as luggage and long-legged drivers. We recently took the first of the refreshed 350Z models, destined for Nissan showrooms in the early stages of next year, for a drive in Tasmania.

Topping the list of changes is the increase in power from 206kW to 221kW for manual models - the same as the 35th anniversary model released this year - but with a decrease in torque to 353Nm at 4800rpm.

Improvements to the intake side of the engine, including larger air ducts and revamped valve-timing have increased the power. The auto models are all powered by the 206kW/363Nm version of the engine, which previously propelled the entire range.

Some of the most noticeable changes have been made on the multi-link front and rear suspension, while the power-steering assistance has also been modified.

Nissan product marketing manager Michael Hayes says the changes have been in response to worldwide customer feedback.

"There's been quite a number of enhancements. A lot these are customer-driven," he says. "The idea of the 06 car is to make it a more driveable and liveable car on a daily basis."

The new speed-responsive steering-assistance system has been inherited from Nissan's Infiniti range. Ride quality is up but not at the expense of the handling - if anything, the slight reduction in firmness gives the Z a less nervous demeanour, which was noticeable on Tasmania's wet roads.

Where once the Track was a little uneasy on less than perfect roads, as well as being prone to skatey behaviour in the wet, the re-tuned suspension's extra compliance has calmed the ride and honed the handling.

The growl of the drivetrain has been retained - as has the considerable pace - but it feels less harsh than its predecessor. The Roadster lets some flex through the steering column but feels strong, although it misses some of the Coupe's zip thanks to extra kilos used in reinforcing for the absent roof.

Nissan says the 18-inch alloys (now standard range-wide) and front bumper have been redesigned, although at first glance you'll miss that, with the addition of xenon headlights and light-emitting diode (LED) rear tail-lights. The cabin has been given the once-over, with the interior designers adding more aluminium trim accents, soft-feel materials and putting audio controls on the steering wheel. Standard features across the range include heated, power-adjustable, leather sports seats, climate control, a seven-speaker Bose sound system, power windows, door locks and mirrors, dual front and side airbags, curtain airbags in the Coupe only, cruise control and drilled aluminium pedals.

The Track variants get Brembo brakes, vehicle dynamic control (VDC) on both Coupe and Roadster variants. On Coupe Track cars, there is also a front spoiler, under body diffusers and a rear spoiler.

Nissan has also increased the size of the brakes on Touring models, with 320mm front discs and 308mm rear discs. While storage space was never a big selling point of the Z, Nissan claims additional storage including a card-holder, cargo net at the bottom of the front passenger's seat, bottle holders in both doors and larger door pockets.

The 350Z line-up will have five models. The Touring Coupe is available with the six-speed manual for $62,990 - up by $3000 - or the five-speed auto for $64,990.

The manual-only Track Coupe will rise in price by $2000 to $67,990, while the Roadster will be available in manual Track or auto Touring spec for $73,990, a rise of $3000. Carried-over features include a traction or stability (on the Track) control system, limited-slip rear differential and dual exhausts.

The Z sports coupe has been sold in more than 95 countries and has sold about 1.6 million units worldwide since it was launched in 1969. The current fifth-generation Z has sold a total of 160,000 units globally since July 2002. Australia is fifth largest for sales behind the US, Japan, Germany and the UK. Nissan has refined the 350Z just enough to give it nicer day-to-day manners without losing its abilities.

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

Roadster 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,120 – 13,860 2005 Nissan 350Z 2005 Roadster Pricing and Specs
Roadster Touring 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,890 – 14,850 2005 Nissan 350Z 2005 Roadster Touring Pricing and Specs
Roadster Track 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $10,890 – 14,850 2005 Nissan 350Z 2005 Roadster Track Pricing and Specs
35th Anniversary 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $10,010 – 13,640 2005 Nissan 350Z 2005 35th Anniversary Pricing and Specs
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