Cheap and Cheerful: the Nissan 350Z
A few days ago I wrote an article about the Nissan 370Z for our “Caught in the classifieds section”. I said that it is one of the best affordable sportscars money can buy, and while that is true, its predecessor, the 350Z, is even more of a bargain.
For today’s “Cheap and cheerful” segment I decided to cover the 350Z, mainly for people who want an affordable rear-wheel-drive sportscar, but don't have the funds to afford the newer 370Z.
This particular 350Z example I was able to find on our website is a 2005 model with just under 100,000 miles on the clock. It's obviously the coupe version, and I've made sure to find a manual and not an automatic.
It's currently listed for just under £6,000, making it possibly the best value for money sportscar of any kind. The 350Z platform is a great daily driver but it's also an amazing starting point if you want to build it into a weekend car or even a track car.
The 350Z is one of those cars which is unmistakable on the road. You wouldn't ever confuse a Nissan Fairlady with anything else. It's instantly recognizable even from a mile away, and I reckon it's one of Nissan’s best designs to date.
For many people the 350Z is much better looking than its successor, the 370Z. It's got much cleaner lines and a design which Nissan seem to have nailed right from the beginning.
From the side, the 350Z has a classic sports car silhouette, much like the 370Z. The bonnet is elongated, the roof slopes down aggressively right after where the B-pillar should be, and it's got relatively short overhangs for its overall length.
The front end is immediately recognizable by those unique headlights and that elegant bumper design. It doesn't have a lot of air dams or vents but rather a large central opening feeding air to that V6 hiding beneath the bonnet.
I reckon that the 350Z has one of the most intricate and instantly-recognizable rear ends of any car ever made. The way the rear taillights neatly fade out into the rear quarter panels accentuate the car’s sporty design. It's also got a small lip spoiler on the large hatch opening, as well as a twin exhaust setup.
I'm a massive fan of the 350Z’s bespoke wheels as well. Without realizing it, Nissan spawned an entire generation of car enthusiasts who would put similarly-shaped wheels on their cars in the future. Namely, one can't help but notice how similar these Nissan stock wheels look to the Volk TE37s.
Stepping inside the Nissan 350Z feels like stepping into a fighter jet. The way the whole cockpit is shaped resembles a fighter jet canopy, so you instantly feel protected and isolated from the elements as soon as you climb in it.
The cabin itself feels familiar if you've ever driven a Nissan from this era. You can tell that the interior was built to a budget, but even so it still feels somewhat premium and plush, especially given its age. Some of the plastics feel cheap and sometimes a few trim pieces do rattle, but given what the 350Z was designed for, I honestly can't fault any of that.
That being said, everything that truly matters in a great driver’s car is present in the Nissan 350Z. The seats feel wonderfully supportive but they're comfortable as well, the gear stick is in exactly the right place and it has a short throw, and the steering wheel is decently adjustable with a great shape.
The pedals are nicely spaced out for heel and toe too. My only complaint is that you sit a tad too high, same as with the 370Z.
Engine and Performance
The Nissan 350Z comes with a front mounted 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 engine, producing roughly 290 horsepower and around 274 pound-feet of torque. Peak power is at 6,200 RPM but you get peak torque at 4,800 RPM. Power is obviously sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual in this case, but Nissan did offer a 5-speed automatic which is so slow it feels ancient by today's standards.
The 350 Z isn't exactly a light car. Much like its predecessor, the 300ZX, and its successor, the 370 Z, it's more of a GT car then it is an out-and-out sports car. Depending on trim and gearbox option it weighs anywhere between 1.4 and 1.6 tonnes.
Even so, the 350Z can sprint to 62 mph in a shade over 6 seconds and it'll hit 100 mph in just 17 seconds. It will complete the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 110 mph and flat out it can reach 155 miles per hour.
The 350 Z is an interesting and exciting car to drive and throw around, but there's no hiding the fact that it isn't a Lotus. You can drive it quickly and spiritedly but you can never rush or hurry it into a corner. You have to be delicate with your inputs in order to manage its weight and body roll.
The suspension is brilliant, dealing with most bumps and road imperfections in one or two damper strokes. The chassis feels neutral and balanced but it will understeer if you enter a corner too quickly. That being said, it's got more than enough power to unstick the rear wheels in second or third.
Model: Nissan 350Z
Trim: Coupe 3.5 V6
The Nissan 350Z is one of my all-time favourite sportscars simply because of how multi-talented it is. It gets decent MPG compared to most cars in its segment, it's a fun weekend car, it's enjoyable to drive, and if you don't mind the lack of rear seats, it's even comfortable to use as a daily driver. At this price point, if you want a rear-wheel-drive sportscar but are fed up with BMWs and want something different, the 350Z is a clear winner. Take a look at the used Nissan 350z cars for sale on DesperateSeller.co.uk right now.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 8.5 out of 10