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Old 11-19-2008, 06:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Car and Driver: 2009 Nissan 370Z - Official Photos and Info - Car News

The lighter and more powerful Nissan 370Z coupe is finally here, making its debut at the 2008 L.A. auto show prior to going on sale in the fall of 2009.

Bigger Engine, Smaller Package

The big news, as evidenced by the name change from 350Z to 370Z, is the 3.7-liter V-6 now under the hood. The bigger engine, which produces 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, will power a new Z that is about 90 pounds lighter than the one it replaces—a perfect recipe for fun. Icing on the cake are two new transmission options: a six-speed manual with an optional rev-matching feature that automatically blips the throttle on downshifts, and a seven-speed automatic—the same unit that was recently introduced on Infiniti’s G37.

The new Z is visibly wider—by 1.1 inches—than the car it replaces, with increased front and rear tracks. It is 2.7 inches shorter overall, with a wheelbase abbreviated by 3.4 inches. Its design incorporates the now-familiar Nissan boomerang-style headlights and taillights, as well as Z-branded side marker lights. The cantilevered roofline is borrowed from big brother GT-R. Weight distribution of 54/46 front/rear has been maintained from the 350Z, and a new double-wishbone front suspension design is complimented by a lighter and stiffer four-link rear. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, with 19-inchers available as part of a Sport package.

Inside is a modern interior that appears more luxurious than that of the 350Z. Seats have larger bolsters, while the knee pads have grown as well. The instrument cluster features bigger gauges, and the triple gauge pod above the center stack has been retained, harkening back to Z cars of yore. An extruded aluminum brace behind the seats replaces the large strut-tower brace that cut into cargo space on the 350Z.

Nissan will offer the 370Z in two trim levels at launch: base and Touring. Standard features include keyless start, automatic xenon headlights, and stability and traction control. The Touring trim adds a better stereo system, Bluetooth, and leather-trimmed sport seats, among other features. The only options are a navigation system with iPod connectivity (only available on 370Z Touring models); the automatic transmission; and the Sport package, which includes a limited-slip differential, the downshift rev-matching feature, forged 19-inch wheels, front and rear spoilers, and Nissan Sport brakes. The 370Z will carry a starting price of $29,930, excluding destination charges.

Platform Alphabet Soup and a Smaller Sporty Nissan

While the original Z rode on Nissan’s FM (for front-midship) platform, the 2009 370Z rides on the new E platform that encompasses former FM vehicles as well as some international vehicles on the FR-L architecture, which denotes “Front-engine, Rear-drive, and Large”—all part of Nissan’s platform consolidation efforts. The 370Z will share the E platform with much of the Infiniti lineup, including the FX, EX, M, and G coupe and sedan.

Meanwhile, Nissan officials say they are still interested in a smaller, more entry-level, front-wheel-drive sports car for the brand, but not immediately. The automaker does not want to take the spotlight away from the launch of the new Z and is dealing with a full portfolio right now, says Larry Dominique, Nissan North America vice president in charge of product planning and strategy. But something that takes cues from the Nissan Urge concept—it would compete with the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky—is expected in a few years.

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