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2006 Nissan 350Z

2006 Nissan 350z Road Test Review
Martha Hindes

Nissan 350Z Roadster
Nissan 350Z Interior

For all those guys who abhor chick flicks, chick cars and chick-style beverages, here's one supposedly for the boys. Even in drop top demeanor, Nissan's 350Z is simply steroids in steel.

We recall the Nissan exec a while back who told us, "we design our vehicles for men, and women are welcome to buy them." So, guess what. We do. And we'll continue to buy them in spite of the guys as long as they give us a primal thrill, and a way to one-up some of those snarly dukes stunned when the distaff class leaves them in a cloud of dust at a nose-to-nose blast-off challenge. (So much for wondering what women want in a vehicle.)

That said, we gals have finesse to fall back on. We do look at styling as well as hormone-laden haunches designed for hot track laps. Brute power is a distinctive Z characteristic, and the look of both styles doesn't lose that feel in this 2006 update, the first revision since the Z's return three years ago. Slashes of high intensity xenon headlamps, burly air-sucking grille, bulging rear fenders and a high, encasing beltline echo both versions. A cold fusion cockpit with its short-throw-look automatic in an understated surround is no nonsense for those who eschew six speed manuals. (We know. A lot of guys couldn't drive a stick if their lives depended on it.)

For 2006, Nissan offers three "Z" roadsters in addition to five of their surly hunch-back two-seater coupe variety. We like that. Instead of a Jim Belushi grunt-fest, the drop top variety seem more like a Matthew McConaughey tease. Flopping the roadster's top down takes a scant 20 or so seconds, and the power ragtop and power tonneau cover finisher are appreciated plusses. Standard tire pressure monitors, heated outside mirrors and faster nav system are welcome 2006 adds.

Underneath this $35 K powerhouse resides a standard 3.5-liter 287-HP V-6 for automatics, or 300-HP 3.5-liter V-6 for the stick. Brake assist (track ready Brembo brakes on some trims), vehicle dynamic control and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels give it driver's car control, especially with the high-intensity precision driving a true sports car demands. The coup de grace? A programmable gear point alert to make shift play more fun.