2009 Nissan 350Z Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Nissan 350Z was new.
Critics are impressed with the 350Z's powerful engine and sporty handling dynamics. Though complaints include a jerky clutch and an overly stiff suspension, most auto writers agree that the 350Z is a competent sports car.
- "Unlike the Ford Mustang, which often is mistakenly called a sports car, the 350Z is a genuine sports car, with athletic moves only low-slung two-seaters can provide." -- MSN
- "With its compact dimensions, spirited V6 engine, sharp handling, rear-wheel drive and well-balanced chassis, the 350Z roadster continues to be a sports car in the truest sense." -- Edmunds
Acceleration and Power
Test drivers are satisfied with the 350Z's strong engine and transmission options. However, many note that because the manual trans' clutch can be jerky, drivers frequently travelling in stop-and-go traffic are better off with the automatic.
The 350Z Roadster is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 306 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 268 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Standard on all trim levels is Nissan's Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS), which optimizes engine performance and fuel economy by gauging intake flow and rpm and adjusting valve breathe accordingly. Though a six-speed manual transmission is standard, a five-speed automatic with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching is available.
According to the EPA, the 350Z nets a city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 mpg with a manual transmission and 17/23 mpg with the automatic.
- "The car is fast, agile and great fun, with impressive torque across a wide band of engine speeds, accompanied by a lusty exhaust growl. And given its sporting credentials, the Z is easy to live with even when the top is raised." -- New York Times
- "The Nissan 350Z Roadster comes powered by a strong, 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces just above 300 hp. It lacks the sheer muscle and bragging rights of a V8, but this engine is still able to take the car to 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds." -- Forbes
- "You would think that this kind of power supplied to the rear wheels would translate into smoky burnouts from stoplights, but that wasn't the case. Sure, launches were quick, but the car remained planted and ran through the gears precisely. It does zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which is very fast for this segment." -- Cars.com
- "Only manual-transmission versions have been made available for us to test so far. They delight with ample power from any speed. All models tested suffered from jerky clutch engagement, which made smooth launches from a stop difficult." -- Consumer Guide
- "Although the automatic transmission matches revs on downshifts, a manual transmission is a must in a Z-car. The six-speed's shifter feels heavy through the gates, but clutch take-up is smooth." -- Edmunds
- "The clutch has a long, hard throw and nonliner action that can cause jerky starts. Those who do lots of driving in stop-and-go traffic are advised to get the automatic transmission, which has a manual shift gate." -- MSN
Handling and Braking
Despite its chopped top design, the rear-wheel drive 350Z maintains its road composure. What's more, test drivers find its power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and braking system precise. However, its stiff suspension tuning can lead to harsh road feel on anything other than smooth pavement.
- "Though some of our testers wish for more road feel, the 350Z's steering is precise overall. The firm suspension tuning and stiff, high-performance tires mean excellent grip and balance through fast turns, as long as those corners are smooth. Any bumps can cause unnerving tail hop, making the car feel less stable than it really is. The brakes have confidence inspiring pedal feel and control." -- Consumer Guide
- "Structural bracing that keeps the Roadster's body rigid also adds a bit more weight, but not enough to hinder the car's handling or acceleration by an amount most people would notice. ... If performance isn't at or near the top of your list of reasons for considering a two-seat convertible, the 350Z's stiffer highway ride and cumbersome rearward visibility could make it unappealing." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Simply put, the 350Z is a sweet machine. Steering could hardly be more precise, confident and satisfying. The 350Z maintains outstanding control and avoids overreaction, but the suspension is defiantly taut. A little hop occurs only in very quick curves. Maneuverability and stability are top-notch." -- Cars.com
- "The firm, all-independent suspension provides excellent handling, although it's happiest on smooth roads; wavy pavement causes a jittery ride. The ride is close to being harsh if the Z is equipped with 18-inch tires; 17-inch tires are standard on lower-line versions and have more sidewall area to help absorb road shocks. All 350Z wheels can be easily scraped on curbs and they aren't inexpensive." -- MSN