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2008 LA Auto Show: Nissan 370Z

The current 350Z has been a great success and halo for a revitalized Nissan that went from painfully dull and underachieving throughout the late 90s and early part of this decade to avant garde, high-tech, and extroverted from 2002-on. Based on Nissan’s acclaimed FM platform and powered by the company’s renowned 3.5L V6, the car has successfully communicated Nissan’s great performance heritage without resorting to retro cliches.
Today, Nissan unveiled the 2009 370Z, which as you might guess is the next generation of Nissan’s sports car that is powered by a 3.7L V6. It’s mechanically pretty similar to the last version but refined in every way. In this way, it’s actually much like all of the latest Nissan and Infiniti products that are essentially cautious restyles of the breakthrough Nissan products from the company’s renaissance a few years back.


As such, the visual link to the 350Z is very clear. However, there have actually been some real fundamental changes under the skin. The wheelbase is actually shorter, as is the overall length, and the driver sits lower in the car as well. The car is also nearly 100 pounds lighter. This certainly goes against convention these days as most successive vehicles are bigger and heavier than their predecessors. It is definitely more of a purist’s sports car. It also has industry-first rev-matching downshifts for the manual version. Sounds interesting, but how useful is that to the manual transmission geek, who probably enjoys heel-and-toeing anyways?
Inside, it looks very similar to the old model as well, right down to the prominent cubby door high up on the center stack. They have, however, fixed the previous interior’s biggest shortcoming – the cheap and plasticky materials and finish. The new 370Z’s interior is leagues ahead, which quality surfaces, moldings, and textures. It feels very much like the latest Infiniti products inside, which have also made tremendous gains in perceived quality.
With the GT-R finally in the US, the Z no longer has the role of being Nissan’s performance flagship. However, the Z’s heritage is a long and storied one, and the latest one certainly has its place in the Nissan lineup, especially as it’s tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than the GT-R.

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