The Nissan 350Z 2021 review

The Nissan 350Z is a fun Japanese sports car sold between 2002 and 2008

£10,362
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Cool styling
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • Impractical
  • Expensive to run
  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

Nissan has a long history of producing its ‘Z’ sports cars, with models dating back to 1969 with the 240Z (it was initially badged as a Datsun in some markets). 

There have been many variants of these sporting models, with the 350Z arriving as the fifth-generation version in 2002, though it wouldn’t be until the following year that it would be introduced to the UK.

Powered by a powerful 3.5-litre V6, it features many cues ‘Z’ cars are known for, such as a long nose, hatchback boot opening and wide arches, it soon proved to be a hit with the firm’s loyal performance fans, of which 4,000 registered their interest, even before the car arrived in showrooms. 

In 2003, the 350Z Coupe would be followed by the drop-top Roadster, which featured an electric roof that can be lowered in 20 seconds as well as a specially modified exhaust system to better enjoy the V6 engine. 

Latest model

The first major change to the 350Z happened in 2006 with the arrival of an updated version. Power increased to 296bhp, while the exterior got a subtle refresh with a redesigned front end, LED rear lights and a higher-quality interior that benefitted from repositioned switchgear and plusher materials. 

In 2007 the 350Z would get a second update, which would see power increase again – this time to 309bhp thanks to a raft of changes. New tyres were also said to improve refinement, while it also benefited from a higher bonnet line and range of new colours. 

The 350Z would be replaced by the 370Z, which launched in 2009 and remained in production until 2020. 

Value for money

It’s a sign of how much prices have increased that, when new in 2003, the 350Z was available for £24,000 – a price that these days would struggle to buy you a new Volkswagen Golf. 

But on the used market, the 350Z is now available from around £5,000. At the time of writing we saw a tidy-looking 2004 car with 70,000 miles on the clock for £6,250, which would get you a lot of car for the money. The tidiest low mileage versions could set you back in excess of £10,000, though, which would buy you a Porsche Boxster of a relatively similar age. 

Looks and image

Though the 350Z might not have been on sale for well over a decade, its design has actually aged quite well, with the sleek lines, flared wheel arches and large grille all being cues you could expect to find on modern cars. Though it’s not the most elegant of designs, it offers something a bit more brutish than you’d expect from a similar German sports car rival. 

When it comes to the interior, the best cars to go for are those produced from 2006 onwards, which are far better put together and use nicer materials, with the earlier models feeling a bit cheap and rattly. Later versions even got the option of a factory-fitted satellite navigation, though of course it’s fiercely outdated by modern standards. 

Then there’s the way the 350Z drives, which is a blend of a muscle car and a sports car. Though some might turn their nose up at the concept of a Nissan, it’s actually a great option from behind the wheel. That V6 makes a great sound, while it feels balanced, stiff and quite agile, allowing you to push on through the corners. Though the ride is firm, it’s still comfortable enough that you could live with it every day. 

Space and practicality

If you’re looking at a 350Z, there’s a good chance that practicality isn’t a top priority. Though there are worse options when it comes to spaciousness, the 350Z’s cabin isn’t the most accommodating, and though the 235-litre boot doesn’t sound too bad, it’s interfered with by a support brace that limits usability. 

On the plus side, all 350Zs come with front, side and curtain airbags, while ABS and electronic stability control is also included. 

Engines

All 350Z models effectively use the same 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, though it was revised during this Nissan’s time. 

At launch in 2003, it produced 276bhp, which allowed for a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds. In 2006, the power was upped to 296bhp – shaving a tenth of a second off the 0-60mph time – while in 2007 the power was upped again to 309bhp, thanks to a raft of new engine parts being used. Though the latter option is only another 0.1 second quicker to 60mph on paper, a shift in the power band meant more punch was available lower down the rev range, which actually makes it feel quicker. 

All 350Zs are real-wheel-drive, and though most use a manual gearbox, there are a few automatic options hanging around.

Running costs

Unsurprisingly for a 15-year-old sports car with a big V6 lump under the bonnet, the 350Z won’t be a cheap car to run. Nissan claimed around 24mpg, though even this figure is a bit ambitious. CO2 emissions of 280g/km are also rather high. 

You should also be aware of car tax rates, too. That’s because models registered after March 2006 will be far more expensive to tax than those registered before – £600 compared with a far more affordable £325. 

Things to look out for

When it comes to reliable sports cars, the 350Z is actually a better option than most. Providing models have been well-maintained and regularly serviced, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. 

That said, areas to look at include ensuring the electric windows work as they should (the motors have a habit of failing), while the rear suspension is known to make a knocking noise – something to be aware of when test driving a car. 

As with any rarer Japanese sports model, there will be a number of 350Zs on the market that will be imported – they’ll be called a Fairlady Z, rather than a 350Z. Though this doesn't necessarily mean they’re any worse, you should be aware that imported cars can often be far more expensive to insure. 

Rivals

Key rivals for the 350Z include the Porsche Cayman and Boxster, while the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK could also be considered, too.

Depreciation

Given the 350Z hasn’t been on sale for some time, models will have likely depreciated as far as they’ll go. Though this Nissan isn’t quite at ‘future classic’ status yet, the 350Z is a car you could use and enjoy without worrying too much about it losing money. 

Trims explained

Two main trim levels were available on the 350Z – the standard car and a ‘GT’ model. Equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

350Z

Standard equipment on the 350Z includes electronic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with washer function and Brembo brakes. A six-speaker CD player is also included.

From £6,000 (used)

350Z GT

The GT pack brings luxuries like heated and electrically adjustable black leather sports seats, along with cruise control and a seven-speaker Bose sound system.

From £6,500 (used)

Summary

  1. On sale between 2003 and 2009
  2. Great to drive
  3. Strong V6 engine used in all versions
  4. Still looks good by modern standards
  5. One of the more reliable sports cars
  6. Expensive running costs
  7. ‘GT’ trim car brings far more standard kit
  8. Coupe and Roadster available
  9. Attractive used prices
  10. A great competitor to more obvious German rivals

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