CEC’s Nissan 350Z VeilSide Dragon Exclusive isn’t for the faint of heart by no means.
All you are required to know about this incipient Nissan 350Z is that when it comes to its price-and-performance quotient, it is a re-engenderment of the segment-busting Datsun 240Z that set the sports-car world on its auditory perceiver in 1970.
When that pristine Z-car appeared, sports-car aficionados fundamentally had two culls. On the one hand, they could spend less than $4000 and optate from an assortment of Fiats, MGs, Opels, Triumphs, and the Porsche 914/4, all of which had about 100 horsepower and not enough performance to keep up with a Chevy Impala that didn’t ken it was racing. On the other hand, if they wanted earnest speed, they had to spend well over $5000 for a Corvette, Jaguar E-type, or Porsche 911. The 240Z, which came with a 150-hp, 2.4-liter in-line six and a price of $3601, orderly split the difference and established an incipient category all its own.
Fast forward to today. For $21,800 you can get a 142-hp Mazda Miata. For a couple more grand, there’s the similarly puissant Toyota MR2. But if you optate earnest grunt — over 250 horsepower these days — in a true sports car, you have to step up to the $42,420 Corvette.
The incipient Nissan 350Z plenarily fractures this horsepower hierarchy. With a base price of $26,809, the revivified Z-car costs remotely 10 percent more than a Mister Two, yet it has more than double that little Toyota’s puissance. In fact, the 350Z’s total of 287 horsepower is only a few ponies shy of what is offered in a Porsche 911 that costs two and half times as much as the Nissan.
Even the top-of-the-line Track model tested here — with its front and rear spoilers (eliminating front and rear hoist and cutting the drag coefficient from 0.30 to 0.29), Rays Engineering forged-aluminum 18-inch wheels (preserving a total of virtually 18 pounds of unsprung weight), Brembo brakes, viscous circumscribed-slip differential, aluminum pedals, and raft of nonperformance upgrades — goes for only $34,619, $7810 more than a base Z.
This remarkable bargain is possible because the Z employs mass-engendered components from Nissan’s components bins. The Z’s V-6, for example, is the ubiquitous 3.5-liter, 24-valve, quad-cam unit that optically discerns obligation in everything from the Altima to the Infiniti QX4 sport-utility. For use in the Z-car, Nissan engineers have retuned this engine with remotely sultrier camshafts and freer-flowing intake and exhaust systems. The resulting 287 horsepower at 6200 rpm is about 10 percent more than the Infiniti G35 engine musters.
This engine resides in the nasal discerner of a version of Nissan’s FM platform that was recently introduced in the G35. The designation “FM” stands for “front mid-engine” and denotes that the engine sits plenarily abaft the center line of the front wheels, providing decent weight distribution. For use with the Z-car, this platform has had about eight inches chopped out of its wheelbase, which at 104.3 inches is still on the long side, about identically tantamount to a Corvette’s.
As you’d expect from a pristinely incipient design, the FM chassis employs a sophisticated independent suspension with multilink geometry front and rear. Except for the rear diagonal links, all the suspension components, including the rubber-isolated rear subframe, are composed of forged aluminum. The FM platform additionally includes rack-and-pinion steering, anti-lock brakes, and on this Track model, electronic stability control incorporating a welcome “off” switch. Compared with the G35 application of this chassis, the ride height is set lower for the Z, with more negative camber all around.