Saturday, 22 November 2008

Nissan UP_SHIFT_its Z_car to 370z for 2009

Click on images to enlargeWhile our fellow Malaysian sportscar enthusiasts are busy lapping up used Nissan 350Zs in reconditioned form with JDM-specs (grey AP imports), Nissan Motor Co. has just revealed the latest incarnation of its iconic Z-car for 2009 model year.

Unlike the dramatic transformation of the R34 Skyline GT-R to R35 GT-R, Nissan seemed to have taken the evolutionary path for its new Z-car, with much of the 350Z' basic shape retained. In fact, I initially reckoned the all-new Z of being like what Audi has done for its A4 transition from B6 to B7. However, dimensions-wise, the new 370Z has actually defied the usual convention of a successor model outgrowing the older model.

Case in point, the new Z's wheelbase is actually about 100mm shorter than the 350Z, compacted by moving the rear axle forward on Nissan's FM platform. In tandem, the overall length of the new Z has shrunken by about 68mm. Thankfully, both width and track have been increased by 33mm and 55mm respectively. In line with this wider-profiled sportier intent, the new 370Z coupe also sits lower by 75mm.

I suppose the real deal with the new 370Z lies beneath its metal sheets, especially with the now upsized VQ-series V6 engine displacing a larger 3.7-litre. Nissan's VQ37VHR engine with VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) is rated at 332 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 366 Nm of torque @ 5,200 rpm, compared with the previous 3.5-litre V6's 306 hp @ 6,800 rpm and 363 Nm of torque @ 4,800 rpm. Approximately 35% of the engine parts are new versus the previous motor. Along with its larger displacement, the new engine is claimed to give better power delivery all the way to the 7,500 rpm redline, improved low-end power and more high-end torque. The new 370Z has also shed 46 kg over the model it replaces, with Nissan engineers revising the coupe's body structure and improving front body torsional rigidity by up to 30 percent.

With higher power output, a lighter body and a new 7-speed automatic transmission or a close-ratio 6-speed manual, the new 370Z should be significantly quicker than the outgoing model, but no official performance figures are available at the time of writing. A more compact lengthwise dimension plus a wider, lower squat should improve agility and handling.

In overview, Nissan revived its iconic Z-car lineage with their reinvented 2002 model. Now - 6 years later - for the successor Z, nearly every piece and component has been rethought or redesigned. With greater use of lightweight body materials (the bonnet is all-aluminium), new engine with more horsepower and improved fuel efficiency, a new 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters - or the world's first synchronized downshift rev matching system for the 6-speed manual - and a reworked higher-quality interior, Nissan seemed destined for greater presence - along with the monstrous R35 GT-R - in the sportscar arena.

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