Last Chance To Buy: NISSAN 350Z

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The Independent Online

When's it going?

The 350Z is being replaced by a pretty much identical model. Look carefully, and you'll see a bulge on the bonnet; underneath is an engine that's 80 per cent new, with longer con rods, a wider range of operation for the variable valve timing and equal length exhaust manifolds. So the new unit can produce 309bhp. But there wasn't much wrong with the old one.

What's good about it?

This is an old-fashioned, aggressive, slightly brutish car. With a 300bhp, 3.5-litre V6 engine driving the rear wheels and a six-speed manual gearbox, it's a very purposeful coupé. You can sprint to 60mph in seven seconds, that engine makes a great sound, and it's very flexible even at low speeds.

It's not that practical, although there's plenty of leg space in the front and it's well kitted out, with 18in alloys, climate control, xenon headlamps, electric front windows, a CD multichanger and (from 2006) sat-nav.

There's also a lot to like about the roadster version. The V6 sings heartily as you wring out its 300bhp. The extra 150kg of body stiffening shows when you tackle imperfect roads, but any performance loss is virtually undetectable. The coupé's stiffness and steering feel have been retained, and the roadster rides bumps well. The fabric hood is easy to use.



What's bad about it?

In reality, nothing, but in the rarified atmosphere of hardcore sports cars, the badge matters. If it was a Porsche they'd be raving; as it's got a chrome London Transport badge on the front, it isn't taken as seriously as it should be. Like all sports cars, it is costly to run – average fuel consumption just under 25mpg, and an insurance group that reaches a dizzying 19.



How much?

It used to be difficult to get discounts on the great-value 350Z, but that has changed. The Nissan dealer Moss Rose Motors (01625 428866) has 2006 coupés at £24,801 (saving £1,543) and GTs at £27,201 (saving £1,643). There were similar savings on roadsters.



Any snags?

Due to the popularity of the Nissan 350Z, there are lots of grey imports from Japan. They're cheaper, but they don't have exactly the same spec as UK cars, and your insurer may up your premium. The exact service history and background of the car may also be unknown.

Specifications

Launched: 2003

Engine sizes: 3.5-litre V6

Performance: (3.5 V6) top speed 155mph, 0-60mph 5.8 seconds

Economy: 24.1mpg

Safety: NCAP, n/a

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