The Nissan 350Z returns for 2009 largely unchanged from its 2008 form, though now only offered as a convertible. The coupe has been redesigned for '09 as the 370Z, which will spur a redesigned convertible for next year. The sporty roadster is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 306 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque.
Nissan has drawn sharp lines and smoothly rounded curves that echo older Z-cars only a little. Where the Audi TT and Ford Mustang steer toward retro themes, the style of the Nissan 350Z is totally modern.
The interior of the 350Z has been upgraded since its introduction in 2003; the plastics are more lavish, but all the basics remain. Inside the 350Z, Nissan lets the controls do the talking.
The 2009 Nissan 350Z puts power to the ground through a 3.5-liter V-6 and a choice of either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is a respectable 18/25 mpg with the manual gearbox and 17/23 mpg with the automatic. The 350Z's 0-60 time is about 5.6 seconds for the manual (6.0 seconds for the automatic) and a top speed hovering around the 150-mph mark for both models. Top-class dynamics, blistering speed, and undiluted driving pleasure are standard equipment; the Nissan 350Z has scalpel-sharp steering, a meaty gear change, an amazing exhaust rasp, and big brakes.
These attributes are especially enjoyable with the top down. The 350Z employs a power-operated soft top, and wind buffeting is quite good, but with the top up, the experience is more claustrophobic and visibility is hampered.
Crash ratings from the NHTSA are mostly four stars, save for five stars for passenger side impact. Anti-lock brakes are standard across the line, with front-side and side-curtain airbags.
A navigation system, a choice of satellite radio systems, and an Aerodynamics Package are optional, while 18-inch wheels and tires are standard, as is a speed-sensitive power steering system.
The Bottom Line:
Amazing V-6 power and rear-drive handling keep the 2009 Nissan 350Z convertible rooted in sportscar basics and fun.