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LA show: New Nissan Z wows California crowd

Zed ahead: Nissan's compact coupe is smaller, cheaper, more powerful.

Redesigned 370Z emerges as one of the few highlights at a sombre 2008 LA Auto Show

21 Nov 2008

NISSAN’S 2009 370Z Coupe was the undoubted star of this week’s LA Auto Show, where its pulling power easily out-paced similarly big-ticket production debuts by the all-new Mazda3, Lexus RX and even a new-generation Mustang coupe from Ford.

As the first redesign of the compact Nissan two-door since the company revived its iconic Z car in 2003, the all-new “Junior GT-R” coupe is smaller than before and will also be less expensive when it goes on sale in the US in January at a base price of around $US30,000.

Australian sales will commence in mid-2009, while the redesigned 370Z is due to appear in 12 months from now for North America’s 2010 model year.

Yes, beneath its GT-R-inspired roofline, Nissan’s new “everyday sports car” also comes with a host of extra equipment, a classier interior and more power, but the latter increases a mere 17kW and 8Nm over the 350Z’s 3.5-litre V6 – despite the fitment of the new four-generation 3.7-litre VQ37VHR 24-valve DOHC V6 from the Inifiniti G37 coupe and convertible.

Nissan claims 35 per cent of the engine is new and, aided by VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) and an increase in stroke from 81.4 to 86.0mm (the bore remains 95.5mm), it produces peak figures of 247kW at 7000rpm and 366Nm at 5200pm – up from 230kW at 6800rpm and 358Nm at 4800rpm. Maximum revs increase to 7500rpm, while compression is also – from 10.6:1 to 11.1:1.

The new engine is teamed with a improved version of the previous six-speed manual transmission, now featuring “SynchroRev Control” which automatically adjusts engine revs to match the next gear position.

“Essentially ‘blipping’ the throttle to smooth out any down/up shifts,” Nissan says the system is the world's first synchronized down/up shift rev control system for a manual transmission.

12 center imageAlongside it is a new seven-speed paddle-shift operated automatic transmission, to replace the current 350Z’s five-speed auto with “Downshift Rev Matching”. Attached to a carbon-fibre composite driveshaft, the latter’s final drive ratio is 3.357 – taller than the manual’s 3.692 ratio.

Harking back to the original 1970 240Z are upswept rear quarter windows, a ‘Kamm’ tail and more compact overall dimensions. Riding on a 100mm-shorter (2550mm) wheelbase, the new Z coupe is 70mm shorter overall at 4250mm.

Featuring new “boomerang”-style headlights (with bi-Xenon beam technology) and tail-lights (with LED technology) plus signature vertical door-handles and ual exhaust outlets, its more aerodynamic body is also 33mm wider and rides on a 55mm-wider rear wheel track.

No kerb weights are provided in the initial press release for the front/mid-engined rear-drive two-seater coupe, though Nissan claims there is “greater use of lightweight body materials” and “expanded use of lightweight materials help reduce weight”.

The bonnet, doors and boot are crafted in aluminium and Nissan claims increased body rigidity had resulted in improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, plus enhanced handling, ride comfort and safety.

Underneath resides a new double-wishbone independent front suspension system with three-point strut tower brace, a revised multi-link IRS, large-diameter hollow front and rear anti-roll bars, a vehicle speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system and power-assisted four-wheel disc brake system (with four-piston front brake callipers and two-piston rear units) that continues to comprise an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).

The interior’s new “driver-centric three-layer design” is claimed to be of higher quality than before and range-wide standard equipment comprises an eight-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manual passenger’s seat adjustment, black woven “carbon” cloth trim, active head restraints, three 240Z-style dash-top gauges, automatic climate-control, a leather three-spoke steering wheel, a revised aluminium-look centre console, power windows with auto up/down function, two 12-volt power outlets, four cup-holders, cruise control, the Nissan Intelligent Key push-button starting system and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system.

Standard safety and security features will include three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and load-limiters, twin dual-stage front airbags, roof-mounted side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) electronic stability control with Traction Control System (TCS), a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and power door locks with auto-locking.

The successor to the 350Z, nearly 5000 examples of which will have been sold in Australia by the end of 2008, rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/50 R18 front and 245/45 R18 rear Yokohama Advan Sport tyres.

Optional equipment highlights, many of which will be standard on the up-spec Touring model grade (there will be no Track version), include a Viscous Limited-Slip Differential (VLSD) and 19-inch RAYS lightweight five-spoke forged-alloy wheels with 245/40 R19 front and 275/35 R19 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tyres.

The extensive options list also comprises a 9.3GB “Music Box” hard-drive, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, four-way power-adjustable heated seats, synthetic suede and leather trim, and a six-CD/eight-speaker 240-Watt Bose sound system, aluminium pedals and a rear cargo cover.

Read more:

First look: Next Z-car in straight-to-video debut

More 370Z facts emerge

First official look: Nissan lays its next Z bare

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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