Monday, February 10, 2014

Used Car Review - Nissan 350z (2003-2008)

Speeding to the love of cars is what Myk Belmonte aims for this review.

2003-2008 Nissan 350z

Japanese car nuts and every automobile enthusiast around the world know this: the Nissan Z-car line is one of the most acclaimed and recognized around the world. Just like the Skyline, it gained cult status for its performance and design while retaining Japanese levels of prices and reliability. While others fade, the Z stays strong.

Lets us quote Carlos Ghosn: that "they will build the Z and will make it profitable". The 300ZX (or the fourth generation model) was killed at the turn of the millennium due to the ever increasing prices. As they said, build it and they will come. First released in late 2002 as a coupe, with a convertible debuting in 2004. Did Nissan made a winner here? Absolutely, especially it shed away from their bland but capable image. The Z dynasty continued on with the 370z that was launched in 2009.

With the removal of the ridiculous tax rates which caused high engine displacements to be taxed higher, Nissan Motor Philippines Inc. introduced the 350z to the Philippines in late 2003. Their last sports car offering is the 200SX (or Silvia to JDM fans) which didn't last due to its limited quantities. While the package was right, the price is a killer. Since no one didn't want it, it was dropped at the end of 2008 with the 370z available at your suking grey dealer.

Value and Costs
Nissans are known for their low residuals. In the case of the Z, it is the opposite with prices still lingering in the million peso price range. Since local releases may be few, looking at US models may be the prudent option while those from Japan are best avoided due to their questionable conversion process.

Since this is a Japanese car, maintenance costs are lower when compared to the Audi TT and even the Mazda RX-8 due to its rotary engine. There are limited problems concerning with its noisy rear suspension but this case is rare.

Exterior and Interior
This vehicle is based from the 240Z concept car showcased in 1999. The trademark long-hood short-deck design cues of the Z family retains while a sloping roof line, brushed aluminum handles, and bulging fenders pushed to the sides are added. Coupe or topless, this is one good looking vehicle.

Interior space is something of a weakness for these types of vehicles; two can join the fun with a limited space for cargoes. Otherwise, inside is an aluminum accent party with lots of them that brighten up the interior. Another quirky feature is the gauges that are mounted directly to the steering column which moves together with the tiller's adjustment. There is a six-disc changer standard and there are multiple storage compartments hidden behind or between the front seats which makes losing items easy since there is no glove box standard.

From the VQ engine family is the VQ35DE 3,498cc carrying 280hp at 6,200rpm and 363Nm at 4,800rpm. This is one mean machine which is fast and delivers the grunt in the low to mid range, making it a practical daily driver. This can be paired with either a six speed stick (which we recommend) or a five speed auto.

Driving Impressions
Bringing in the unadulterated joys in driving comes standard. Grip is present, tons of it but it does not feel that much nimble on the bends. Steering fun weighs in as you push the pedal to the metal that gives you feedback. Ride is tolerable, which makes it an appealing choice.

Ghosn made a right decision to revive the Z series and the risk was worth it. Good looks, exhilarating performance, attainable price, driving characteristics similar to an athlete, and the vaunted Japanese reliability is what makes the 350z appealing. If you want one, go get especially it can stand on its own against modern rivals.

The Good:
  • Classic looks
  • Brute performance
  • Stands out in the crowd
The Bad:
  • Limited units in the market
  • Not at all practical
  • Gets buried in a sea of popular nameplates
The Pick: You do not have any choice, just avoid the worrisome Japanese imports.

Engine: 3,498cc VQ35DE V6 gasoline
Power: 280hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 363Nm @ 4,800rpm
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 7-9km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front and rear multilink

Price (New): P3,300,000
Price (Now): P1,300,000-P2,000,000
Rivals: Audi TT, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mazda RX-8
On Sale: 2003-2008

Nissan Mantrade - (02) 812-6879
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - (02) 635-5888
Nissan UN Avenue Manila - (02) 400-1020

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