The sleeker look of the 2009 edition--the first major update since 2003--brings the two-seat Nissan 370Z a shorter wheelbase and more intensive use of lightweight materials. The new car has a wheelbase that's 4 inches shorter (at 100.4 inches), and is about 2.5 inches shorter overall than before. The hood is made of aluminum, as are the doors and the hatch, for lighter curb weight. The headlights are high-intensity discharge xenon lamps, while the taillights are LEDs. A nifty touch: flashing “Z” badges on the fenders.
While it helps boost performance, the new look is a good measure closer to the spirit of the original 240Z, particularly in the rear quarters and in the subtle slope of the front fenders. Unique touches include the “boomerang” headlights and taillights, which Nissan says gives the Z a stronger emotional appeal. Inside, the newly restyled interior has a tiered look that groups functions in a new way for better ease of use on the move.
For performance, the rear-drive 370Z leans on the 3.7-liter V-6 also found in the Infiniti G37 Coupe. It spins out 26 more horsepower, for a total of 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic is offered and sports a manual-shift mode, while a six-speed manual matches the engine’s revs when the driver downshifts for smoother, faster gear changes. Curb weight is about 3,250 pounds, and fuel economy is estimated at 18/26 mpg.
Nissan credits a better-tuned independent suspension for increased handling prowess. The base model is complemented by a Touring version, and sport brakes can be specified. The steering is speed-sensitive, for better response and feel. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard with 45-series rear tires; 19-inchers are available.
Safety gear includes front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and tire pressure monitors.
Standard equipment includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; a CD player; a rear defroster; cruise control; Intelligent Key with push button start; tilt steering; and cloth seats.
New features for the Z will include a navigation system with XM Satellite Radio and NavTraffic real-time traffic alerts, along with a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive that stores music and data. Bluetooth is also offered. Power seats are an option, as is leather trim, a Bose six-disc CD system, and an iPod interface. Front and rear spoilers can also be added to tweak the Z’s appearance.
Buyers can choose from two versions, 370Z and 370Z Touring. The Coupe version, introduced at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show, will be joined by the 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster next year.
On sale in January, the new 370Z will sport a base price of about $30,000.
MORE PHOTOS: 2009 Nissan 370Z