Full 2007 Nissan 350Z Review
What's New for 2007
Underneath its restyled hood, the 2007 Nissan 350Z features a new, higher-revving V6 engine that makes 306 horsepower. The automatic transmission's gearing has been updated to take advantage of the engine's broader power band. Bluetooth connectivity is a new feature, and side-impact airbags are now standard on every 350Z roadster. The Track trim level has been discontinued, but Nissan has replaced it with the special-edition 350Z Nismo, arriving in the summer of 2007. With a race-prepped chassis and numerous aerodynamic upgrades, the Nismo is the best-handling 350Z to date.
One of Nissan's most well-known cars, the "Z" sports car has gone through many evolutionary changes since its introduction in the early '70s. Some versions have been more highly regarded than others, but the Z has typically delivered plenty of performance and style at a price middle America can afford.
Introduced as an all-new model in 2003, the current Nissan 350Z has all of the proper sports car ingredients. The high-revving 3.5-liter V6 sends its power to the rear wheels, and Nissan says it positioned the engine behind the front axle to help promote a near-ideal weight balance. The 350Z also has a fully independent multilink aluminum suspension, big wheels and tires and a distinctive exterior look that has stayed surprisingly fresh since the car's introduction. For sun lovers, Nissan also offers a 350Z convertible with a power-operated fabric top.
For 2007, sharp eyes will notice a new look for the hood, which has a Z-themed retro-look power dome. Underneath it is an updated version of the car's 3.5-liter V6 engine. Nissan says the new engine has been upgraded with a stronger block, a higher rev limit and compression ratio, a twin ram-air intake and variable exhaust camshaft timing. Looking at the power specs, though, one might wonder why Nissan went to the trouble. The new 306-hp output is hardly better than last year's 300 hp. However, the new engine's figures are based on a more rigorous SAE testing procedure. (For comparison, applying the new procedure to last year's engine would probably result in actual variation of about 15-20 hp.) More importantly, this year's V6 has a broader range of usable torque, with 90 percent of its 268 pound-foot peak available from 2,000-7,000 rpm.
Dedicated Z buyers looking to get the most out of the new engine may want to hold out for the limited-edition Nismo 350Z. A replacement for the Track model, the Nismo is a more serious machine aimed at racing and track-day enthusiasts; only 1,500 will come to the U.S. It's built by a Japanese company called Autech, which pulls each Nismo chassis off the main Z-car assembly line and welds together the seams of the unit-body by hand. This is a common practice in racing and gives the car an added measure of structural rigidity over the spot-welded chassis of the other 350Zs.
The Nismo also has special Yamaha-designed mass dampers mounted between its frame rails to counter the extra vibration common to chassis stiffened by seam-welding, along with more aggressive suspension calibrations. The result is a car that's highly capable whether at the track or on your favorite back roads, though the Nismo's usefulness as a daily driver is limited. And though its front splitter and rear spoiler provide real downforce in a track environment, they contribute to an indiscreet, boy-racer image everywhere else.
We've driven the 350Z extensively the past few years and come away impressed with its performance, style and value. Thanks to its new, freer-revving V6 engine, the 2007 Nissan 350Z is likely the best Z to date, and the Nismo version pushes the car's dynamic potential to the limits. We recommend the Z, though we also suggest checking out some of its key competitors if you're not sold on its hard-edged personality. The Ford Mustang GT, for instance, has a more distinct muscle-car personality thanks to its rumbling V8 and retro styling, while the base BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Mazda RX-8 all deliver more agile handling than non-Nismo Zs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Nissan 350Z is available as both a two-seat coupe and a roadster. Trim levels include base, Enthusiast, Touring, Grand Touring and Nismo. Note that the base and Nismo trims are exclusive to the coupe.
Base coupes come with 18-inch wheels, xenon HID headlights, automatic climate control, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry and a CD player. Going with an Enthusiast model sets you up with that equipment, plus cruise control, traction control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a limited-slip rear differential and, on the roadster, a power-operated soft top and power seats. The Touring model adds an upgraded Bose audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, power seats for the coupe and seat heaters for the roadster, and leather upholstery. The Nissan 350Z Grand Touring has front and rear spoilers, and more powerful Brembo brakes; the coupe version also has special lightweight wheels, sized 18 inches in front and 19 inches in back. The limited-edition Nismo 350Z forgos many of the Grand Touring's luxuries in favor of performance-enhancing upgrades, such as a stiffened, seam-welded chassis; vibration-reducing mass dampers; firmer springs and shock absorbers; and various aerodynamic upgrades, including a front splitter, side sill extensions and a larger rear spoiler. Brake and wheel specs are identical to the Grand Touring, though the Nismo's wheels have a darker finish. Inside, each Nismo has red/black cloth seats, a gray-faced tachometer and a number plaque indicating its build order in the production run. Options on the 350Z, depending on the trim, include a navigation system and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-engine, rear-drive Nissan 350Z features a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 306 hp and 268 pound-feet of torque. Putting the power to the ground is either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. Base and Nismo models take only the manual gearbox. This is among the quickest sub-$50,000 cars you can buy in 2007, as we timed a Nismo 350Z at 5.1 seconds for the 0-60-mph test and 13.6 seconds at 103 mph in the quarter-mile. Its braking ability was just as impressive; the car turned in consistent 109-foot stops from 60 mph.
Antilock disc brakes are standard on all models; the Grand Touring trim gets an upgraded set of Brembo calipers and rotors. Side and head-protecting side curtain airbags are optional on all coupes. Regular side airbags are standard on roadsters. In government crash tests, the 350Z coupe received a top five-star side-impact rating. Front-impact tests have not been undertaken.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the Z, the instrument panel features three gauge pods that move with the tilt steering wheel. Unfortunately, the wheel doesn't have a telescoping adjustment. All of the controls a driver might need are close at hand, but some of the materials used in the cockpit seem low-grade for this price range. In the rear, there's a distinctive rear suspension brace. While this brace certainly improves body rigidity, it also compromises valuable luggage space. The roadster's trunk is even more diminutive (just 4.1 cubic feet), but the top is easy to operate and can be dropped in about 20 seconds.
There's nothing special or gimmicky about getting started -- just turn the key, buckle your seatbelt and go. Around town, rearward visibility is poor. The V6 is quite docile, though, and opening it up a bit produces an enjoyable and throaty growl. Power delivery is linear and athletic, and although the engine is full of vigor at any rpm, it's particularly entertaining at higher revs. Although the automatic transmission matches revs on downshifts, a manual transmission is a must in a Z-car. The six-speed's shifter feels heavy through the gates, but clutch take-up is smooth. During hard cornering, outright grip is high and the Nissan feels well balanced. The steering is a bit coarse in feel, but otherwise it's quick and well weighted. The track-tuned Nismo 350Z has the sharpest reflexes of the Z-car family, though its excessive road noise and predisposition toward freeway hop make it unsuitable as a daily driver. Overall, the 2007 Nissan 350Z offers performance and handling equal to some of the best sports cars available.