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Edmunds.com : 2009 Nissan 370Z, New Details Revealed 10.14.08

SANTA MONICA, California The new 2009 Nissan 370Z is scheduled to make its first public appearance at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, November 21-30, 2008. But when a

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Old 10-14-2008, 01:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Edmunds.com : 2009 Nissan 370Z, New Details Revealed 10.14.08

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SANTA MONICA, California The new 2009 Nissan 370Z is scheduled to make its first public appearance at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, November 21-30, 2008. But when a prototype of the new Z-car came to town in early October, we were fortunate to be invited by Nissan to take a look at it. No factory-authorized information is available yet, but we were allowed to look (as long as we didn't look too closely) and venture a few wild guesses.

As we guessed when we first saw pictures of the new car circulating the Nurburgring in 2007, the forthcoming Z is a lot shorter. When the current, fifth-generation 350Z was first introduced in 2003, its long 104.3-inch wheelbase was a subject of some controversy. Nissan had followed the lead of the Corvette C5 in adopting a long-wheelbase platform as a measure to enhance stability at ultra high speeds. The new, sixth-generation car, on the other hand, looks dramatically shorter behind the driver seat, and we think the Z-car has gone back to a 99-inch wheelbase, a dimension long regarded as a kind of Golden Mean for sports cars, a magic balance point between dynamic responsiveness and stability. We wonder if the car will feel different when you're aware of sitting so close to the rear wheels, something that has always bothered us in cars like the BMW Z4.

The new car still has the Z-car's traditional proportions, and it also still shows the influence of the strong, geometric shapes of the 350Z, which was first drawn by Nissan Design America's Ajay Panchal. Even so, this Z is new in every detail, notably the wide, wide rear fenders. The roof recalls that of the Nissan GT-R in the way its rectilinear lines depart from the complex curve of the 350Z. If you look closely, you can also see the signature of the original 240Z in the shape of the rear-quarter window. We expect this remains a largely U.S.-based design effort, and we wonder if NDA's Randy Rodriguez has been involved.

It's safe to guess that the new car features the 3.7-liter version of the Nissan VQ engine just like the G37 coupe and the recently introduced G37 sedan. With more displacement, a taller compression ratio and both variable valve timing and lift, this engine should have more authority at low rpm even while surpassing the G37 coupe's output of 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It also seems likely that the engine will be available with a seven-speed automatic, just like the G37 sedan, although the car we saw had a manual transmission.

The platform underneath is identifiable as the Nissan FM (Front-Midship) architecture, but we suspect it incorporates the changes we've already seen for the G37 coupe. First, the G37's double-wishbone front suspension has a single, lower ball joint to reduce steering kickback. In addition the G37's rear suspension has been optimized for more traction by removing the anti-squat geometry of the top control arm and by relocating the track link.

The 370Z wears 225/50R18 95W front and 245/45R18 96W Yokohama Advan Sport tires. The front brake calipers didn't wear any fancy aftermarket label, so we expect Nissan has stuck with its own suppliers.

The architecture of the interior is familiar, as the steering wheel is mounted on a moveable pod and there are three small instruments on top of the dash, but the cheap, hard plastic of the current Z-car has mercifully disappeared.

We're looking forward to the first release of official photographs of the new car on October 29, followed by technical information on November 11. There's no official word about a Roadster model of the new Z-car, but considering the popularity of the current version, we'd guess that one is in the works. The New York auto show is customarily when convertibles are revealed, so we'd look for it then.
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