The all-new Nissan 350Z sports car, unveiled last January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit just three years after the first Z Concept vehicle was rushed onto the North American auto show circuit as an initial styling and feasibility study, goes on sale in the United States and Canada this August as a 2003 model. The stylish, 287-horsepower 350Z continues the Z heritage of design, performance and value that has remained unchallenged since the original Datsun 240Z was introduced 33 years ago as a 1970 model.
To be successful in the marketplace, we know that the 350Z must deliver in performance and design while keeping the price tag under $30,000. The new 350Z does just that,' said Carlos Ghosn, president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (NML).
'Z DNA' Guides Designers
'The new Z inspires both appeal and appreciation,' said Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president, design, NML. 'First, the design offers strong visual and driving appeal. But the Z can also be appreciated for the more practical side that comes with everyday ownership ' durability, utility, comfort, reliability and low maintenance.'
Other 'must haves' for the new Z were also taken from the first generation 240Z ' a front engine/rear-wheel drive drivetrain configuration, two-seat interior, a
powerful 6-cylinder engine and, of course, a simple and honest design. The new Z, like the original, features a true hatchback body.
'A long wheelbase and wide stance provided a great starting place,' said Diane Allen, chief designer, Red Studio at Nissan Design America Inc. (NDA). 'Our first thought was to recreate the sensation of an open-wheeled Formula 1 car ' all wheels and an intimate center structure.'
The Z's beltline provides a distinctive spine, which crosses over the form in the rear and is anchored in the Z's strongly visual taillights. The body surfaces are
rendered with a certain roundness to impart a soft impression. While the design strongly accentuates the bulge of the fenders, the volume at each
corner has been pared to emphasize the shortness of the overhangs. The 17-inch wheels also serve as a design element that hints at superb driving performance.
'We wanted the design to be an expression of agility ' very three-dimensional and moving,' said Mamoru Aoki, product chief designer, Nissan Technical Center (NTC). 'The Z is very fluid and relaxed, from the curve of the door cut to the freeness and movement of the glass. It looks fast, but not just in a straight line. It's a simple yet exacting design, which gives the Z a polished feeling.'
In addition to the hatchback coupe, a convertible version of the new Nissan Z is planned.
'The inside of the new Z is a realm of sensation,' said Allen. 'We wanted to emphasize the sport appeal of the car without sacrificing the functionality. The essence of the Z is performance and we wanted the design, inside and out, to reinforce that impression.'
The instrument panel features three gauge pods, similar in design to the 240Z, consisting of the drive computer, oil pressure gauge and voltmeter as well as modern
touches such as a navigation system with video display. The door vents and center console have a solid, chiseled-from-a-block-of-aluminum look.
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