Nearly 20 years from debut and with no new Z for Europe, is now the time for a 350?
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, December 14, 2021 / Loading comments
Nope, still not over it. Just when the reality of no new Nissan Z for Europe seems to be acceptable, up pops another picture or video to remind us all of what we’ll miss: that handsome design, raspy V6 and manual gearbox, just for starters. It seems such a shame that it can’t happen, especially with Toyota somehow making the GR86 eligible. And Nissan seems to sell nothing but electric vehicles – surely its fleet CO2 average is lowest of all?
Alright, fine, let’s move on. Sort of. Because while 2022 will be the year that the new Nissan Z doesn’t come here, it will also mark 20 since the debut of the 350Z – surely the most popular Z car in the UK. Yes, the 240Z will remain the OG, but even by the debut of the 350 it was a rare old classic – and we were a Capri country in the 70s, right?
The 350Z, on the other hand, arrived right at the time of the coupe’s resurgence in the UK. First shown to the world in 2002 ahead of UK sales commencing in 2003, it almost perfectly updated the classic Z recipe for the 21st century: there was a large six-cylinder engine up front, rear-wheel drive, a manual gearbox and sharp styling – you could easily argue it still looks good today. The fact the 350 proved so popular even in a sector bursting with choice in the early 2000s – think Mazda RX-8, Vauxhall Monaro, Alfa GT, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and so on – was an indicator of how appealing the package was. The best coupes have always looked great, gone fast and handled well – the 350Z ticked all three boxes. That it was good value, too, available from £24k, further helped the Zed’s cause. UK enthusiasts hadn’t really had a Nissan to be excited about for a long time – the few Skylines that made it here were really expensive – and the 350 ensured lost time was certainly made up for.
Revisions and updates came with time, adding power and tweaking spec to keep the Nissan competitive right up until being replaced in 2009 with the 370Z. Which, despite carrying over so much of what made the 350 so good, never seemed to resonate with the buying public quite so emphatically. First with 280hp and then 300hp, the 350Z most often recommended – albeit with more punitive road tax by that point – is the 2007 refresh, with an updated engine that revved higher and produced some extra power, 313hp in total, with a flatter torque curve as well. If the spec isn’t clear on the car you’re looking at, a very mild bonnet bulge – the new V6 sat 8mm higher – will identify the Z.
This 350 is one of the first 313hp cars, on a 57-plate. With the desirable GT pack (bringing the Rays wheels) it’s covered fewer than 70,000 miles in the 14 years since. Everything looks in good order, with the three most recent MOTs passed with just a couple of advisories in total. The last fail was for rust; a pass the day after suggests that was tended to at the testing garage.
With that sorted and another test not required until November, the road ahead seems clear for a new owner to enjoy a £10k 350Z to the full. It won’t be a cheap endeavour with fuel prices as they are – 24mpg wasn’t exactly frugal back in the day – but it also seems unlikely that good 350Zs will ever be bargain basement sports cars, given their fond following in the UK. You’ll never have to sell it for the pittance an RX-8 commands, surely. And without a new Nissan sports car coming, don’t be surprised if the fondness for the old ones increases even further.
SPECIFICATION | NISSAN 350Z
Engine: 3,498cc, V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],800rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],800rpm
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 68,755
Price new: £26,795
Yours for: £10,995
See the original advert here.
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