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Nissan's new Z true to heritage

The 2009 Nissan 370Z sports car's upgraded gauge readings and new powerful engine make for a sweet ride.
The 2009 Nissan 370Z sports car's upgraded gauge readings and new powerful engine make for a sweet ride.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

332-horsepower V-6, 6-speed manual shift

Wednesday, April 01, 2009 10:10 am
The look on the man's face said it all as he asked: Is that the new Z car? He was smitten, so much so he couldn't take his eyes off the 2009 370Z that I had parked at the curb.The reverential reaction is common for Nissan's new-generation Z car. People who know and appreciate the Z as an affordable sports car dating back to the 1970s were unabashed in their lust for the new model.

It's the new, tightly sculpted styling and the wonderful V-6 engine sounds that get to them first. All the details that Nissan officials addressed in the 2009 car - from more readable gauges and new, most-powerful engine to a repositioned rear crossbar that makes the cargo area more usable - simply add to their delight.

Nissan thoroughly revamped its long-running, two-seat, rear-wheel drive sports car for 2009 and in the process improved on virtually everything in the car.

The Japan-based automaker also didn't add much to the base pricing, meaning the new Z provides good value and plenty of driving fun for the money. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $30,625 for a base Z car with 332-horsepower V-6 and six-speed manual transmission.

The 370Z with new, seven-speed automatic starts at $31,925.

Prices are mid-range among sport coupes. The 2009 Mazda RX-8 starts at $27,105, while the 2009 Audi TT coupe starts at $42,895.

Z car prices include automatic climate control, key-free entry and ignition, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, high-intensity discharge headlights, adjustable steering column with gauges attached to the column, and the addition of standard curtain air bags. Standard safety items also include antilock brakes, electronic stability control and anti-whiplash head restraints.

The Z car is Nissan's long-running two-seat sports car, but it was overshadowed last year by the debut of the company's exotic GT-R two-seater.

Indeed, someone looking to the 370Z to be a stripped-down version of the $77,000-plus GT-R is likely to be disappointed, as Nissan officials studiously kept the 2009 Z car true to its heritage. There are some GT-R parts in there, to be sure. But GT-R's sophisticated double clutch system and turbo engine aren't in the Z.

Fact is, the 370Z is closer to the Infiniti G37S coupe than it is to GT-R. For example, the Infiniti's 3.7-liter, double overhead cam V-6 is under the 370Z hood, hence the name change from last year's 350Z to today's 370Z.

It's a sweet engine, giving the 2009 Z more power than any other Z car has had. The 332 horses are up from 306 in the 350Z.

Combine the new power with wider and slightly shorter length Z car and a weight that's cut by up to 50 pounds and you can begin to appreciate the attention to detail that went into boosting performance and fun in the 370Z.

The car rockets forward, with Nissan noting that the 0-to-60-mph time has been shaved to about 5 seconds. It's faster than an earlier 350Z car with Nissan's Nismo motorsports parts on it.

Of course, true sports cars require impeccable handling, too, and the new Z car excels.

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