Nissan 350z Track Model 6spd
Folks, listen up, it's that time again. Bringing you the best from the automotive-winding test-driving world, I have now had some serious seat time in the 350z track 6spd.
My initial impressions of this car were not good. I felt the interior was cheaply done, especially the HUGE broad interior door panels and the perforated cardboard-esque roof liner. That aside, I really fell in love with the shifter even before taking her out for a good romping. It's so short and smooth and heavy, highly enjoyable. The clutch is rather heavy, but not overbearing. The steering wheel is thick and steering FEEL is heavy and satisfying, much like my 330 (much more so than the G35c).
Starting up this beast is like a symphonic orchestra gone wrong. It is LOUD. The dual exhaust is quite nice, very deep and rumbly. The car was cold when I drove it, so it was even louder than normal. The engine is obviously highly tuned. The difference between the G35 sedan and the 350z is like the difference between a 325 and the M3. It's really that ridiculous -- and I love it!
Initially the clutch was a little odd, you know what with having a mid-pedal engagement point and all like the rest of the cars of the world. Once I got used to that, it was cake. The shifter is precise, heavy and SOLID. The car at this point is begging me with all its might to take it to the limit. FWIW it had about 290 miles on it.
I hit the on-ramp for a local highway and shoehorned it to 80mph before I knew what happened. This car is a freakin rocket people! I don't know how this thing could only pull a 6.0 0-60 -- I'm gonna say mid 5's at the max. It is ridiculously quick, and not only by the ass meter but by the speedometer as well. The rev limiter is sharply at the redline, for all you future 350z test drivers, so watch out. The most satisfying shift is definitely 2nd to 3rd at redline. 3rd gear is SO strong on this car, it just feels like it'll never ever run out of room to go.
Highway cruising is a breeze. Lane changes? You won't even notice! There is zero body roll, and even less pitch front to back. This is a serious car now, and it shows it on less-than-formidable roads. You get to wondering exactly how much damping there really is under the shock towers. But all in all it's just the sporty nature of the car, it really loves to haul balls and it does it in any direction you fancy.
Braking is somewhat iffy. I found them to be very solid (these are the Brembos btw), very fade-resistant even doing a relatively hard 80-0 stop, but I must admit they're not very good at giving feedback. You have to push on them pretty hard, no lie. Yes that's exactly the opposite of the G35 sedan, which would be more likely to send ABS into a storm of chatter if you so much as sneezed with your foot over the brake pedal.
Interior comfort is another interesting topic. This car had cloth seats, which I am NOT fond of. It's like burlap, only harder. There's no nap to the fabric, so you literally "rub" into the seat rather than slide. It's not a pleasant sensation, and makes it harder to get comfortable. I was all set after about 2 minutes of fidgeting. I sat in a leather touring model that was on the showroom floor and ingress/outgress were much easier and I felt much more comfortable. Plus cloth = manual seats, which is not part of my 350z game plan (maybe it's part of yours?).
All in all I thought to myself, "Wow I could really see this as my next vehicle." The sound and power of this beast coupled with the driver feedback (less the brakes) and the suspension make it a true sports car. This is NOT anything like the G35c. It is even further from the G35 sedan than the Mini is from the M5. It's really a driver's car. It books baby, and I want one. Daytona blue please!