a doubt, the most eagerly anticipated, most passion-inspiring, indeed, the most
wanted new sports car of 2003 is the Nissan fabulous new 350Z.
It's hot. It's gorgeous. It's arresting to behold.
350Z earns the award by being a genuinely good sports car first and foremost --
the kind of car that gets your palms sweaty and your heart pumping irrespective
of its looks. After all, a true sports car is best appreciated from behind the
wheel, preferably on a deserted twisty two-laner, where beauty is defined not
in terms of visual appeal but rather through engaging all of your other senses
the 350Z is nothing if not a feast for your senses. It looks, feels, sounds and
smells like a pure sports car, just like the original 240Z. Inside and out, its
geometric and organic forms reverently recall Z cars of yore without going overboard
with retro syrup. Overall proportions and front-end design elements more than
recall the original, yet the Z's stacked headlights and stylized exterior door
handles are very today. The metal-trimmed interior is clean and modern, boasting
an instrument cluster that moves up and down with the steering wheel and terrific
sport seats (a la the Infiniti G35). The most controversial part of the Z is its
cargo area, which is bisected by a beautifully rendered metal brace that enhances
overall vehicle stiffness (good), yet gobbles up precious cargo space (not good).
who's looking for cargo space in a sports car, anyway? Nissan bred the 350Z for
maximum performance, not maximum luggage space. Performance is paramount here.
So a sinewy 3.5-liter V-6 sends a whopping 287 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque
to the 350Z's rear wheels, providing outstanding forward thrust and marvelous
sounds to boot. Suspensions are tight and composed, keeping the tires planted
on the pavement and limiting body roll to, well, nil. Braking, steering and shifting
are nothing short of world class. The penalty for all of this sheer capability
is a stiff ride, which in our book, is a small price to pay in a car that goes,
stops and turns this well.
considering its legendary bloodlines, the new Z car had to be good. But the 350Z
is beyond good. It is scintillating. Tantalizing. Loin-stirring. And the fact
that such a lustworthy machine is actually attainable (starting well under $30K)
makes us obsess about it all the more. Without a doubt, then it's "Z"
sexiest new car of 2003.