The 350Z gets a serious freshening for 2006. There's a revised front-end design, LED taillamps, a new interior, a new vehicle-speed-sensitive power-steering system, updated available navigation system, and new 5-spoke forged alloy wheels for the coupe model. A new trim also joins the lineup-the Grand Touring coupe. It features large wheels and tires, Brembo-brand brakes, new spoilers in front and back, and Nissan's VDC stability program.
The Z's comeback was a brilliant marketing move for Nissan, and its sales success helped move Nissan's turnaround plan much closer to fruition. The new Z competes in the Compact Premium Sporty segment, and is the second-best-selling car in the segment, right behind the Chevrolet Corvette. The overall styling, handling characteristics, and solidity all help contribute to the Z's success. The engine plays a big part, and the 3.5L VQ V-6 powerplant churns out 300 hp when mated to the 6-speed manual transmission; 287 when matched with the 5-speed automatic.
There are two body styles to choose from: coupe and Roadster. There are also five coupe models and three Roadster options. Basically, everything from mild to wild is available, including the Track model, which is prepped equally as well for the racetrack as much as the street. The Track model also receives the new RAYS super-lightweight, 5-spoke forged aluminum wheels. The Roadster model features more structural bracing than the coupe for reduced body shake. The automatic soft top features a heated-glass rear window, along with compact stowage under a hard tonneau cover for a cleaner look with the top down.
The front-engine, rear-drive configuration Z gets a new front bumper, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps that shine brighter and spread more light on the road in a broader pattern, and a new grille. Inside, changes include different seating fabric material, new gauge styling, redesigned door panels, revised climate controls, more storage space, and a cupholder on each door panel, plus a new storage net on the passenger side footwell. Toss in redundant steering-wheel-mounted audio controls (excluding the base model), and that's just about everything customers had been requesting.
The 350Z competes in the Compact Premium Sporty segment, a small, but prestigious (and very competitive) category of cars with cutting-edge design and aggressive performance capabilities. For all of its performance and design appeal, the segment accounts for less than 1 percent of annual light-vehicle sales in the U.S.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the 350Z was the sales leader for calendar year 2005 (27,278 units sold), followed by the Acura RSX (20,809), and Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class (18,227). Other competitors include the Chrysler Crossfire, Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, BMW Z4, Porsche Boxster, Honda S2000, Saab 9-2X, Audi TT, and Volvo C70.
|Enthusiast (M6)||6 speed manual||$35,050||300-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||19/25|
|Touring (M6)||6 speed manual||$37,650||300-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||19/25|
|Grand Touring (M6)||6 speed manual||$40,000||300-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||19/25|