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First drive: Nissan 350Z coupé with GT pack – on sale now

Nissan

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Review

The 350Z has had a (very) subtle face-lift, but why alter something that works so well just for the sake of it?

Nissan has barely changed Ajay Panchal’s styling: the car is still low and muscular; it prowls around while collecting admiring glances.

The 350Z was launched in Europe in March 2003, so what has changed?

It has a welcome extra 19bhp; Bembo race-developed brakes are there to pull all that power up again.

Eighteen inch alloys are now standard (previously a £1,000 option), as is ESP stability control and bi-xenon headlamps. It has a new front bumper and subtle changes to the radiator grille; and dramatic new rear lights, which contain 42 LED lamps on either side.

The interior has had a few new touches, too, including a softer feel and a magazine net in the passenger footwell.

What hasn’t changed? The driving experience, for a start. 350Z still reacts keenly to the driver’s every move, gripping hard and giving confidence on the twistiest of roads. The engine and exhaust note sound wonderful, whether at full throttle or sitting idling; it growls and purrs and invites you to push that bit harder, that bit faster.

350Z’s popularity is undisputed: 5,500 UK sales so far, with 1,400 projected for the rest of 2006. The coupé sells 70/30 to the roadster.

With prices starting at £26,345, the 350Z is an awful lot of fun for the money.

Price: £30,800
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 295bhp @ 6,400rpm, 260lb ft @ 4,800rpm
Performance: 0-62mph 5.8sec; top speed 155mph (limited)
Transmission: Six speed manual
Efficiency: 24.1mpg combined, 280g/km CO2
Rivals: Audi TT, Chrysler Crossfire, Mazda RX-8, BMW Z4
Strengths: Handling, interior
Weaknesses: Limited to 155mph
Opportunity: Face-lift raises profile
Threat: New kids on the block
USP: Nissan’s cult car

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