The iconic Z
Nissan’s 350Z is now an attractive proposition on the used car market.
Nissan 350Z fits the widely held definition of a true sports car. It has a sleek, low-slung 2dr body with a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout and a snug cockpit cabin.
The 350Z is the fifth generation of Nissan sports cars to wear the Z badge since the iconic 240Z took the world by storm 45 years ago. Replaced by the 370Z in 2009, the 350Z is now an attractive proposition on the used car market.
Available as a hard-top coupe and a more expensive soft-top form, the 350Z was introduced in 2003, with upgrades in late 2005 and early 2007. The main coupe models were the Touring and the performance-focused Track. The convertible was initially just the Roadster but with the 2005 upgrade Nissan offered two versions: Roadster Touring and Roadster Track. There was also a limited edition 35th Anniversary Coupe in 2005.
The long bonnet, sloping roofline, short overhangs and a low, wide stance of a classic sports car are embellished by distinctive styling cues that give the 350Z a head-turning presence. It also comes with reasonably serious performance, handling and braking.
Under the bonnet is a highly acclaimed 3.5L V6 petrol engine, which enjoyed an extensive revamp in 2007. Depending on the version, transmissions are a 6spd manual or 5spd automatic, while the engine’s power outputs increased for the manual versions with each update and range from 206kW to 230kW.
Everything about the 350Z feels serious and substantial. The heavy steering, firm clutch, robust gearshift and taut suspension can make it a touch demanding to drive, particularly in traffic. Yet handling-wise it is relatively balanced, with enormous cornering grip. Suspension tuning as part of each upgrade made the ride a little less jarring and refined the typical rear-wheel-drive handling characteristics. Road and cabin noise levels are on the high side.
The 350Z has all the compromises of a two-seater sports car, such as long, heavy doors, tight accommodation, poor visibility, awkward entry/exit from the low seats and limited boot capacity. It has a speed-limited space-saver spare wheel.
Mechanically, the 350Z is fairly robust but in a car like this the condition will vary greatly depending on how it has been treated. So learn as much as possible about the history of a particular vehicle, not just whether it’s been regularly serviced (which is always important) but also the type of work it has done and the way it has been driven. Some cars may even have spent time on the track in club events. Be very wary of any cars that have been modified. Look closely for signs of accident damage and poor quality repairs.
It is essential the car is regularly serviced and high quality oil is used. The recommended service interval is six months/10,000km. We’ve heard reports that, with constant high revving, some 350Z engines burn oil but it doesn’t seem to be a widespread concern.
Check for a noisy manual gearbox or crunching when changing gears (slow synchros). Clutch wear/shudder can also be a relatively expensive issue. Give automatics a good test drive to make sure there is no shuddering or slippage.
Look for uneven tyre wear as that could indicate wheel alignment or suspension problems. Sports cars tend to be hard on tyres and new ones can be relatively expensive. Parts and repairs also tend to cost more.
The 350Z is relatively well equipped, so make sure all the electronic features function properly, including the convertible’s powered folding roof.
Touring coupe (2003-09): $15,900-$31,900
Track coupe (2003-09): $17,400-$31,100
Roadster convertible (2003-05): $18,400-$23,400
Touring convertible (2005-09): $25,000-$38,100
Track convertible (2005-09): $25,000-$38,100
Approximate Glass’s Guide prices for either 6spd manual or 5spd auto.