Nissan had planned to release the full details surrounding its new 370Z model on November 19 to coincide with its global debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, however the official press release has been leaked slightly ahead of time.
The new Nissan Z Coupe is set to go on sale in the US from January 2009 from a base price of $30,000, followed by the Z Roadster in 2010.
Almost every part of the new Nissan Z has been redesigned, resulting in a shorter wheelbase, greater use of lightweight body materials, a new engine with more horsepower and improved fuel economy.
The 370Z is smaller than its predecessor in every direction to help reduce weight, coupled with the expanded use of aluminium for the door panels and hood.
The net result is a saving of around 45kg over the comparative 350Z model with rear body torsion rigidity improved by up to 22 percent and rear body vertical bending rigidity improved by up to 30 percent.
“As every race car driver knows, weight is the enemy of performance and rigidity is the foundation for handling – but they usually work at cross purposes from each other,” said Castignetti. “With the new 370Z, the engineers were able to build a body that is both stronger and lighter, enhancing Z’s athletic performance abilities.”
The exterior design intentionally incorporates 240Z styling cues, with a dramatic cantilevered roof gathering its inspiration from the Nissan GT-R.
The drag coefficient is just 0.30, which drops to 0.29 with the Sport Package – the same as the previous 350Z model. The new Z also maintains the previous generation’s zero front lift and zero rear lift when equipped with the rear spoiler, thanks to extensive aerodynamics efforts.
The distinctive ‘boomerang’ shaped head lamps and tail lights incorporate High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-functional xenon headlights with auto on/off feature are standard.
The 370Z is a true two-seat sports coupe, with an open cargo area for enhanced storage and accessibility in the rear.
The instrument panel retains the traditional 3-pod cluster with oil temperature, voltmeter and clock, while the speedometer and tachometer now include an “initial sweep” function, coming alive when the Z is first started.
Standard interior creature comforts include Push Button Start, one-touch power windows, a centre console box, automatic climate control, rear window defroster with timer, two 12volt power outlets, four cupholders (two in door panels, two in centre console), dual overhead map lights, lockable glove box and a 4-speaker audio system with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls.
The 370Z Touring model adds 4-way power adjustable heated leather sport seats with adjustable lumbar support, 6CD Bose audio system with eight speakers (includes dual subwoofer) and MP3/WMA playback, Bluetooth system and passenger seat map pocket.
The new-generation 3.7-litre VQ37VHR engine with VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) is rated at 247kW and 365NM at 5,200 rpm – almost a 20kW improvement over the previous model.
The larger capacity engine yields better power delivery all the way to the 7,500 rpm redline with improved low end power and more high-end torque.
The new engine is backed by a choice of two new advanced transmissions: a 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic.
The close-ratio six-speed manual includes the world’s first synchronized downshift rev matching system, which automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the exact speed of the next gear position, essentially “blipping” the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts.
This function improves vehicle balance and smoothness by reducing the typical “shock” when the clutch is engaged, although driver’s who prefer less vehicle intervention can deactivate the system completely with a button next to the shifter.
“The SynchroRev Match system takes nothing away from the driver – you still have to engage the clutch and move the shifter – it just gives you a performance edge by smoothing out the gear engagement,” said Castignetti.
The new 7-speed automatic with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM) and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) is designed to offer quick, manual-like shifting when operated in manual mode with a target time of 0.5 seconds between shifts.
Fuel economy is identical for either transmission, using 13.0l/100kms in city driving, and 9.0l/100kms on the highway – which is a slight increase over the previous Z car.
The double-wishbone front suspension (replacing the lower multi-link setup in the 350Z) uses lighter forged aluminium arms and a lightweight rigid aluminium-alloy cradle, along with a lighter stabilizer bar with a 35 percent improved lever ratio.
The standard 370Z wheel and tyre package features 18-inch staggered 5spoke lightweight aluminium-alloy wheels with P225/50R18 front/P245/45R18 rear Yokohama ADVAN Sport maximum performance rubber.
An optional sport package adds 19-inch RAYS forged lightweight aluminium-alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A P245/40R19 front/P275/35R19 tires.
The braking system has been upgraded to improve overall feel and brake fade resistance with 4-piston front callipers and 2-piston rears biting onto vented discs.
The new 2009 370Z’s model line-up has been greatly simplified, versus the 2008 350Z, with just two models – 370Z and the 370Z Touring.
Australian specific details will be released closer to the local launch date.