Used 2007 Nissan 350Z NISMO
- Strong and sweet-sounding V6 engine is happy at any rpm, capable handling and braking, high value for the dollar.
- Some low-grade interior materials, steering wheel doesn't telescope, poor rearward visibility, deafening road noise in Nismo model.
Nissan 350Z years
Used 2007 Nissan 350Z NISMO for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
For the money, the 2007 Nissan 350Z is still one of the best performance buys on the market.
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.
Trim levels & features
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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As we buried our right boot exiting the last hairpin in 2nd gear, the tach needle of the 2007 Nissan Nismo 350Z raced northeast across the dial. It didn't waver and we rode a tsunami of forward thrust toward 7,000 rpm.
We'd heard that Nissan would be testing the 2007 Nismo 350Z at Tsukuba Circuit, the most popular racetrack in Japan, so we dropped by to see what all the fuss was about.
That's how we found ourselves at 125 mph on the back straight of this 1.3-mile circuit with the 2007 Nismo 350Z asking for more.
Z, the next generation
From the moment the Nissan 350Z launched in 2002, it's been a hot prospect on the road. There were plenty of people (including many at Nissan) who believed the Z-car would never make a comeback from the brink of irrelevance, yet 200,000 350Zs have been parked in garages around the world since then, including 27,278 in the U.S. last year.
The centerpiece of the 2007 350Z is a new, high-revving 306-horsepower version of Nissan's well-known, 3.5-liter VQ-Series V6. Motohiro Matsumura, the engineer who directed the design of the original VQ, tells us that Nissan originally asked him to control noise and vibration in the company's first all-aluminum engine, and his use of lightweight yet rigid parts led him to excellent performance at the same time.
Some 80 percent of the VQ35HR engine is new. Twin throttle bodies, a higher compression ratio and straighter intake ports help squeeze out more power, while variable valve timing for the intake and exhaust cams broadens the power band. To help the engine withstand the higher 7,500-rpm redline, the crankshaft's pins and journals are larger in diameter and the crankshaft's main bearing carrier is supported by a ladder-type frame. Meanwhile, the connecting rods are 8.4mm longer to help reduce vibration, a measure that required a revised engine block with a taller deck height.
When the new high-revving, 3.5-liter VQ35HR V6 is hooked up to the Nismo 350Z's six-speed manual transmission, it delivers 306 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. The torque output is 268 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm, but, more important, 90 percent of peak torque is available between 2,000 rpm and 7,000 rpm.
Chassis tricks from Japan
The chassis of the Nismo 350Z has been developed by Autech, a Japanese company that produces specialty models for Nissan and also prepares Nissan's entries in the Japanese Super GT racing series.
Autech welds up some of the seams in the Z-car's body to increase structural rigidity and also installs the usual strut-tower braces. The Nismo 350Z also features special Yamaha-built mass dampers between the left- and right-side frame members beneath the unit-body chassis to control vibration in this new, stiffer body. This is technology adapted from the mass dampers Yamaha formerly supplied to the Honda Formula 1 team.
There are plenty of signature Nismo pieces within the interior, but the car is more noteworthy for special exterior bodywork developed by Nissan for racing, including a front aero splitter, a front bumper cover, rocker-sill extensions and a dramatic rear treatment with a wing.
The Nismo 350Z rides on lightweight forged wheels and carries 245/40R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires in front and 275/35R19s in the rear. Specially tuned springs and dampers are part of the package.
The racing connection
It took just two corners of Tsukuba to realize just how freely the new V6 spins toward its 7,500-rpm redline. The outgoing VQ engine had loads of punch through the midrange, but the new HR (high-revving) engine has real staying power at peak rpm. It has a dry, crisp and yet authoritative exhaust note that becomes an addictive roar above 5,000 rpm.
As we charged toward Tsukuba's second hairpin at 80 mph in 3rd gear, we jumped on the brake pedal and engaged the big four-pot Brembos, plucked 2nd gear with the short-throw shift linkage and then clipped the tight apex at around 45 mph. Letting the tach needle plummet to an indicated 2 grand, we floored the throttle and unleashed a torrent of power that continued right to the redline at 7,500 rpm.
The newly found high-end power tempts you to keep the engine on the boil above 5,000 rpm, yet if you find yourself lower in the rpm range, there's plenty of torque to climb the ladder to peak power again.
Just like a classic Nissan engine, the new VQ's throttle response is crisp and the engine pulls strongly across the full sweep of the tachometer. There's no difference between the engine of the Nismo 350Z and that of the 2007 Nissan 350Z, yet the engine feels so rewarding, there might not need to be any difference.
The Nismo 350Z's real mark of distinction lies in its track-ready chassis. At Tsukuba, the Nismo 350Z recorded a lap time of 1:05.9, some 1.3 seconds quicker than the most aggressive model of the standard 350Z. The Nismo 350Z turns in sharper, corners quicker with less body roll, and both squats less under acceleration and dives less under braking.
Push the Nismo 350Z as we did through the track's long right-hand sweeper, and it will understeer at first. Once you feather the throttle for a moment, though, the car assumes a neutral attitude and you can use the VQ 6's wide power band to steer the car with the throttle in a way that's more progressive and controllable than ever before.
Of course the V6's meatier top-end power means that the rear end will break traction sooner, but the slide is easier to catch once the sideways stuff starts.
A track car, not a street car
The downside of the Nismo 350Z is quickly apparent on the street.
All the newfound chassis rigidity combined with the stiff-legged, track-ready suspension calibration and aggressive, low-profile Bridgestone RE-01R tires combines to deliver a harsh ride that'll shake your fillings loose even on Japan's magically smooth roads.
It'll be interesting to see if Americans are willing to pay a premium for a track-ready Z-car that doesn't feature a special measure of added engine power, but the new VQ V6 is so impressive that they might not notice.
With the 2007 Nismo 350Z, Nissan has taken one of the world's best sports cars, given it a look that's both unique and functional and built up a razor-sharp chassis that's capable of extreme performance. You'll want to keep the engine on the boil at nearly 7,000 rpm just like we did.
We'll see what's next for Nismo, as we hear it's preparing a 400-hp 380RS edition of the Z-car that will be powered by a detuned version of the 3.8-liter V6 used by the Autech-prepared Z-car driven by Michael Krumm that won the 2006 Japanese Super GT racing series.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Nissan 350Z?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.