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2006 Nissan 350ZEnlarge Photo
I was worried. In fact, I was doubly concerned. Firstly, Nissan has been messing with its 350Z, and because the Z is one of my all-time favorite cars this is something that makes me very uneasy. And secondly, this means that the 350Z is now halfway through its life cycle, so its replacement is now only three years away. Like each subsequent BMW M3 and Mazda Miata, I just know the next one’s not going to be as good as the original. I mean, how can it be? This one is almost perfect.
Well, in one respect my concerns are unfounded. Nissan hasn’t mucked about with the Z-car too much, either mechanically or visually, and the changes they have made have been subtle and tasteful. If you squint really hard you’ll spot the standard bi-xenon headlamps and tweaked front bumper, while the rear light cluster is now festooned with little LEDs. Other than some new wheels, that’s it in terms of styling tweaks.
Inside, Nissan has listed to its customers and installed cupholders in the doors, padded the armrests a little better, put a bit of snazz in HVAC controls and added audio controls to the once-naked left-hand steering-wheel spoke of all versions but the base model. The plastics feel a little ritzier, too, but all the basics remain as before so you still have that perfect driving position with its incredible pedal, steering, and gear-lever placement, as well as the wonderful view of the world you can only find inside that rakish shape.