Fifth Generation (Z33)
In August 2001, Nissan introduced the Z Concept. Much like the previous Z concept, it debuted at the North American International Auto Show and was painted a bright orange. The squat, long-hood/short-deck styling resulted from a competition between Nissan’s Japanese, European, and American design studios, with the La Jolla, California studio’s design being chosen. The product planners hoped to avoid the price problems that plagued the last few years of the 300ZX with a target MSRP of $30,000 while using the Porsche Boxster as a benchmark.
In the summer of 2002, the 350Z was released to wide acclaim. It employed a slightly improved version of the 3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V6 engine found in multiple Nissan cars at the time, including the Maxima and Pathfinder. This engine initially produced 287 bhp (214 kW) and 274 lb•ft (371 N•m) torque, but in 2005 was increased to 300 bhp (220 kW) and 260 lb•ft (353 N•m). Prices started at $26,000 US, well below the $30,000 mark initially set forth by Nissan. Coupled to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or 5-speed automatic (the automatic lost 13 bhp (9.7 kW) in comparison), it was initially available only as a 2-seater hardtop. A convertible model was later introduced in 2004.
The 350Z was available in a selection of seven trim packages, depending on the year: “Base”, “Enthusiast”, “Performance”, “Touring”, “Grand Touring”, “Track” and “Nismo”. The base model 350Z, in comparison to the more expensive packages, did not have a limited-slip differential or a traction control system. Touring and Grand Touring models both featured leather seats, Bose entertainment systems, optional satellite navigation, VDC (vehicle dynamic control), and other user conveniences, while the Grand Touring models also added Rays Engineering forged wheels and the Brembo braking system found on the Track and Nismo models. The Track and limited edition Nismo packages included Rays Engineering forged wheels and the Brembo braking system. In 2007, Nissan dropped the “Track” version in favor of the “Nismo” edition, but retained the Brembo brakes, Rays Engineering wheels, and simple interior, but added a larger exhaust and aggressive body kit. The second Nismo edition, released in 2007, included revised camshafts, a Nismo sport tuned exhaust, custom Rays Engineering 18-inch (460 mm) wheels (19 in/480 mm in rear), front and rear spoilers and rear diffuser, and a Brembo braking system with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers (with 12.8 in/330 mm front and 12.7 in/320 mm rear rotors).
The 2005 35th Anniversary Edition 350Z and 2006 350Z equipped with manual transmissions received a newly revised engine, which increased the redline to 7,000 rpm and increased power to 300 hp (220 kW).
2007-2008 350Z models came with the 3.5L VQ35HR engine with dual intakes and a 7,500 rpm redline, which produced a power output of 306 hp (228 kW).