Red zzzzzver: Test steering: Nissan 350Z
At the end of the last century, films and computer games about street racing created the erroneous feeling among many motorists that a cheap small car with the help of total tuning can be turned into a sports car with the characteristics of a racing formula. Sports coupes briefly disappeared from car dealerships and from city streets - they simply went out of fashion.
It’s nice to know that the traditions of real sports cars are being revived. The continuation of the kind of legendary models was the new Toyota Celica and Mazda RX-8, Volkswagen announced a roadster, which could become an ideological descendant of Scirocco and Corrado. Racing habits Nissan 350Z, which we personally had a chance to ride, Japanese engineers honed at the legendary "Northern loop" of the Nurburgring, the German track, which has become a testing ground for the best supercars in the world. The head of the Driving Art School of Driving Art and the 2004 Russian rally champion Gennady Broslavsky helped us figure out what the new Z-car really is - a real sports equipment or just another fashion car.
The first Z-car was born in many respects due to two terms: the acquisition in 1966 by Nissan of the small company Prince and the participation of an outstanding manager in the project. Yutaka Katayama, the founder of the American division of Nissan, was a big fan of the American lifestyle. It was he who convinced the company management of the need to focus on the American market. In October 1969, the new 240Z went on sale, a comfortable high-speed projectile for New World highways.
The advanced technical equipment of the 240Z was indebted to the engineers of the former Prince aircraft factory. On the Japanese version of the Z-car, a 2-liter 6-cylinder engine from the Prince Skyline model was installed, the car was intended to homologate the FIA and participate in races. The American Datsun 240Z was equipped with a 2.4 liter single-shaft engine, simple and reliable. The car had an independent suspension of all wheels, a lightweight carrying body. In terms of driving performance, it was significantly ahead of the A550X concept car underlying it, which has a frame structure and a dependent rear wheel suspension. But the design of the A550X belonged to the pen of Count Albrecht Goertz himself, who participated in the development of the legendary BMW 507 and Porsche 911 roadster.
The commercial success of the 240Z exceeded all expectations: in America, Ferrari for the Poor immediately became a scarce commodity and resold for $ 4, 000 at an official dealer price of $ 3, 526. Sales were spurred by regular Z-car victories in races and periodic model upgrades. For example, in 1974, a two-seater got a rear seat, and the engine size was increased to 2.6 liters - this is how the Datsun 260Z appeared. In 1970, engine power increased to 170 hp, the car received a 5-speed transmission.
The new generation of Z-car - Datsun 280ZX - was released in 1979. Then, a more comfortable and dynamic Japanese was sold in the amount of 86, 007 copies, for which he received the title "Import Car of the Year" from the American magazine Motor Trend. Soon, the 280ZX acquired a Targa body and a turbocharger. The fourth-generation machine (1984 model) continued the successes of its predecessors.
It's hard to believe that the Nissan 300ZX, the fourth generation of the legendary sports car, appeared in 1990. The design of the machine does not seem outdated in our days, many still dream of this particular model. The car was equipped with a 3-liter engine, which with the help of a turbocharger produced the coveted 300 hp.
Japanese coupes were named Fair-lady by the will of company president Katsuji Kawamata, who visited the famous Broadway musical My Fair Lady in 1959. Katayama, who believed that the feminine name for a sports car would not be appreciated in the United States, could not convince the head of the company. By his daring order, the Fairlady Z's nameplates were ripped from their cars on the threshold of American salons and replaced with laconic alphanumeric designations 240Z. Since then, all Z-car in Japan are called Fairlady, and in Europe and America are digital indexes. This fully applies to the latest Nissan 350Z.
Outside Nissan is a lump of muscles, a clot of energy. A long hood, swift lines of narrow teardrop-shaped windows, continuing in the contours of the rear lights, strongly protruding wings give the impression that a massive predator is pressed against the roadway. The sophisticated optics of xenon headlights, laconic door edges and vertical metal door handles remind us that we have a high-tech product. Through the spokes of the 18-inch wheels are visible orange, in the color of the body (!) The brake calipers with the cherished Brembo inscription - 4-piston front and 2-piston rear.
Landing in the Z-car recalls the benefits of morning exercises. Having penetrated inside, you find yourself in a pleasantly close embrace of a massive door panel, center console and a high central tunnel. In a wide leather chair with developed lateral support it will be especially convenient for large people. A very tall driver (Gennady Broslavsky’s height is 192 cm) can easily fit in the 350Z, but even a man of average height will not be able to sit imposingly and relaxed - landing in the Z-car forces the pilot to concentrate and concentrate on controlling the machine. Visibility in the 350Z is like in the most uncompromising supercar: it is clearly visible only ahead, the low ceiling, narrow windows and thick pillars interfere with the side view, and the almost horizontal rear window allows you to back up only from memory.
Behind the driver and passenger seats are located ... a subwoofer, a glove box and a trunk. Even there is no symbolic rear seat, and the location of the front seats was selected taking into account the influence of the mass of people on the weight distribution of the car. On the tailgate of a tiny trunk, witty engineers attached instructions on how to place two golf bags in it.
Interior design is harmonious
and thought out to the smallest detail. It contains traditional elements of sports style - a three-spoke steering wheel, metal pedal pads, recessed devices in a separate “cup” with a central tachometer and a speed limiter LED, additional devices on the center console (voltmeter, oil temperature gauge and on-board computer display), turned to to the driver. At the same time, Nissan does not boast of its sportiness - no white dashboards and carbon-fiber panels. Shiro Nakamura, a leading Nissan interior designer, says he spent a lot more time working on the Z-car than on other models. As a reminder of the legendary past of the model, the letters “Z” are scattered throughout the cabin - the sign flaunts on the steering wheel hub, is embroidered on rugs and is even built into the climate control vents in the doors.
Nissan pleases the owner with original technical solutions. For example, the dashboard moves with the steering column when adjusting the height of the steering wheel, so the steering wheel will never block the instruments. Direction indicators, lights and wipers are controlled by unusual short-stroke levers, climate control by ergonomic rings, and cruise control, as usual, by buttons on the steering wheel. The windshield washer nozzles are located directly on the wipers and move with them, watering the entire glass. When you press a small button on the panel in front of the passenger, it extends and, like a bud, opens into a cup holder.
With all this, Nissan is simple and sociable. It allows the driver to feel what is happening with all nodes of the car at any given time. On the center console in the Z-car is not a computer display, but a high-end Bose music center with active noise reduction and classic controls. The magnificent short-stroke lever of a 6-speed manual gearbox moves with a noticeable effort and is so accurate that it allows you to feel by touch how synchronizers are closed in a box. A light non-damped accelerator pedal puts all 280 horses at the disposal of the driver at once, and a tight brake pedal makes it possible to meter the braking force with precision. Long-stroke and not too informative clutch is a necessity with such engine power: the disks must close with great effort.
Looking for some engine. At idle in the cabin there is silence - only the trembling of the gearshift lever is issued by the engine that has come to life under the hood.
Nissan 350Z was originally developed as a car, the controllability of which allows not only to furnish everyone with a traffic light, but also not to yield to a race track full of turns. The Z-car engine is located in the base, behind the front axle. The 250-horsepower 3.5-liter engine, known for other Nissan models, was refined: lightweight pistons and connecting rods were installed, intake and exhaust systems were re-configured. As a result, 280 hp were removed from the engine. at the cost of working on 98th gasoline, providing a one and a half-ton car with excellent power output: up to a hundred Nissan accelerates in 5.9 seconds. The motor on the Z-car drives the rear wheels through a carbon fiber propeller shaft, and a self-locking differential helps to not lose precious torque in the corner.
The 350Z aerodynamic body kit provides a drag coefficient of Cx of 0.29 and zero total lift. In this case, with increasing speed, the downforce on the front axle increases, and, to a lesser extent, the lifting force on the rear. Additional loading of the front wheels achieves even greater control acuity.
The wheel suspension is an independent multi-link. Particular attention is paid to the stiffness of the body: the standard equipment includes spacers connecting the strut supports in front and rear. The rear strut halves the already small trunk and is visible through the rear window.
Of course, such a powerful car is necessarily equipped with an electronic driver assistance system ESP. It makes the car obedient even to a novice, helping not to lock the wheels during emergency braking, to avoid skidding and uncontrolled rotation in the turn. By analyzing the information of several sensors, the processor can brake each wheel individually, as well as "dump gas." ESP can be disabled. The maximum speed of a standard car is limited and is 250 km / h.
Finally, being on the long-awaited training ground, I boldly press the gas and hang over the seat cushion, being tightly pressed to the back. The engine of the machine is magnificent: a large volume provides diesel traction in all speed ranges, it seems that it is absolutely elastic. At the same time, the interior is filled with a stunning metal ringing that you want to enjoy forever - but no, very soon the engine rests on the limiter. The speed limiter can be adjusted by setting the desired bar, however, the “red zone” on the tachometer starts already at 6500 rpm - the main bet in the 350Z engine is made for tremendous torque. In general, the engine of the new Z-car is completely different from the squeaky "Japanese" - it is more likely a "German" character.
In rapture with power and speed
I was very late with braking before turning. Brembo's excellent informative brakes helped to upset the car, but still had to go into a turn at a speed significantly higher than the optimum. The weight and aerodynamic loading of the front axle does its job - obeying the sharp movement of the steering wheel, Nissan willingly changes the trajectory. I provoke a drift with gas, turning the nose of the car inside the turn, easily regaining traction with the reverse movement of the steering wheel and - the insidious turn remains behind.
Nissan cheerfully responds to commands by a wheel, at development of a drift behaves predictably. While in the car, the driver instantly senses the beginning of a skid, the speed of its development. Nissan makes it easy to predict the optimal steering angle and gas flow to adjust the vehicle's trajectory and prevent uncontrolled rotation. Z-car forgives mistakes, allowing the pilot to drive the car to the limit without unnecessary fear.
I got into the passenger seat, giving control to a professional rally driver Gennady Broslavsky. While he was more systematically than I was studying the driving performance of the car, burning gasoline (and tires), I asked myself the question: “Why aren't there five-point seat belts here ?!” (Z-car is quite capable of achieving lateral and frontal accelerations of more than 1 g) .
Small complaints racer caused gearbox. 6-speed manual, pleasing in the city with impeccable clarity of work, on the track was not fast enough. “It is felt that the synchronizers abut, not allowing the arm to be operated quite intensively during acceleration. The box is pleasant for everyday driving, but slightly does not correspond to the sports potential of the other components of the car, ”are the comments of Gennady Broslavsky.
Contrary to the calculations of the Japanese at the exit from the turn, the rear wheels of the car are slightly underloaded, not allowing to realize all the torque in acceleration. However, the small flaws of the Nissan 350Z as a racing car were revealed only because, on the whole, the new Z-car is a full-fledged sports car with purebred racing habits. Experienced drivers will certainly appreciate it. True, according to Gennady Broslavsky, in Russia there are no more than 50 people capable of realizing the full potential of this car.
Z-car or Family car?
After the Nissan 350Z test, the editorial staff had heated debate. Some said that the expensive (about $ 60, 000) Z-car is unsuitable for traveling around the city. They complained about the uneconomy (consumption in the urban cycle of 16 l / 100 km, and a full tank costs 1000 rubles!), Stiff suspension, a sharp start, poor visibility, the need to constantly monitor speed, and finally - to cramped space and a small trunk. Others were ready to ride the 350Z every day, forgiving him everything for his excellent stability on a straight, sharp steering wheel and, most importantly, for the opportunity at any time to leave behind all the neighbors in the stream. Perhaps the nature of the disagreement is that the Z-car can’t just get from work to home after a hard day, dreaming of a comfortable armchair in front of the TV. You need to ride it, constantly wanting to enjoy driving, enjoying every start and every turn, every time you approach the car in anticipation of communicating with a friendly red-headed animal. If the owner of the 350Z is lucky to be on the race track, then there are very few cars for which he agrees to change his Z-car.
The car was provided for testing by Nissan.The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 9, September 2005).