Nissan's sultry 350Z is the long-awaited revival of the famed Z badge--the company's high-performance flagship.
When Nissan was hurting on a number of fronts, the Z was the beacon in the mist. As it transitioned from concept to production, Nissan was flooded with pre-orders--the bandwagon was rolling.
At the 2003 Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS), the 350Z, or Z33, was the star of the show. In fact, in the nine years Turbo has covered the Salon, no other vehicle had dominated the Makuhari Messe floor as intensely as the Z. Will this popularity carry to the American aftermarket?
Star cars of the past, the Altezza (IS 300) and the Subaru WRX, are a couple of the more recent models to carry their TAS momentum to U.S. shores. If the power-tuned example we discovered at GReddy is any indication, there should be some wickedly fast Zs in the offering.
|GReddy Twin-Turbo Kit|
|Standard Boost||5.6 psi|
|Compressor||TD05H 18G (2)|
GReddy Twin-Turbo 350Z
The biggest departure for the 350Z was its loss of turbochargers. The 1990 to 1996 300ZX generated 300 hp from its twin-turboed VG30DET 3.0-liter V6. The new Z33 puts out 287 hp all-natural style from its VQ35DE 3.5-liter V6. GReddy was nostalgic for the sound and fury of spooling turbos and decided to take the 350Z to the next level. A car was acquired and the R&D staff began tinkering at a furious pace. The goal: back to the future, twin-turbo thrust. The tight confines of the 350 engine bay meant the hairdryers would have to be dropped out of sight, but GReddy reports more room is available in the Z33 than in the Z32.
The GReddy kit consists of two TD05H 18G turbos, a pair of Type-S external wastegates, two Airinx filter assemblies, a pair of trick cast stainless-steel turbo manifolds, required piping and hardware, larger main injectors and a preprogrammed e-Manage. Intercooling is handled by a GReddy front-mount, three-row chiller with cast aluminum end tanks. The intercooler is configured with dual inlets and a single 80mm outlet leading to the throttle body. The R&D effort also included a dual cat-back exhaust system with stylish Evolution cans and huge tips. Tuning is accomplished with leading-edge electronics, namely a GReddy e-Manage piggyback computer and a PRofec e-01 boost controller outfitted with a trick e-Manage programmer. The e-Manage commands upgraded 440cc RC Engineering injectors designed to fit the OE intake manifold and get the power flowing while keeping factory-spec duty cycles. A Trust Japan technician familiar with the e-Manage system was flown over to whip the twin-turbo VQ35DE into shape. GReddy's Mike Chung reports that "Surprisingly, the turbocharged Z took the e-Manage very well, although we weren't successful in getting the ignition control feature to work. We took the tuning very slow because of the V6's high compression of 10.3:1. Little by little, the car began to run better and better. We finally figured about 5.6 psi should be within a safe limit through the factory catalytic converters, while still making a big punch in the power department."
Set at the aforementioned conservative 5.6 psi, the GReddy turbo kit dished out the power. The 350Z baselined at 244.4 whp on Dynamic Autosports' Dynojet. With boost coursing through the V6, output jumped to 334.2, an 89.8-whp gain through the cats in CARB-legal trim. The GReddy 350Z blasted a 12.9-second quarter mile when the Nissan was evaluated by "Motor Trend" magazine; that's a full second improvement from a stock-tested 13.9. The prototype kit may see some fine tuning as GReddy is considering downsizing the turbo, "The 18G is a bit oversized and requires intake restrictors to keep the boost down," says Chung. "We may go to actuator turbos and/or a single wastegate." The kit is expected to hit the street by summer 2003. This Z was outfitted to do much more than go straight. Tein Type Flex coil-overs with the company's high-tech EDFC option are on-call at the corners. Electronic Damping Force Controller (EDFC) allows the driver to alter the damping force of the shocks on the fly.
Pretty heady stuff. At the 2003 Tokyo Auto Salon, Tein unveiled a speed sensing system that will automatically change shock performance in reference to vehicle speed. Road contact is maintained by 19-inch Nitto 555R high-performance tires wrapped around exquisite Volk Racing GT-C wheels. Up front, 235/35s are joined by 19x8.5 GT-Cs, while the drive wheels are 19x9.5 GT-Cs and 275/30 555Rs. This sticky combo can really put the power and grip to the pavement so GReddy covered the final base by upgrading the brakes with one of its tasty Alcon-based, six-piston caliper front setups featuring 335mm slotted rotors. Making a good thing better is what performance tuning is all about. GReddy has showcased its talents well on this boosted Z33. The Z appears to be alive and well in the aftermarket.