The new Z has emerged as a big player in the tuning scene and it's easy to see why. The car generates a good deal of performance out of the box, there's plenty potential to be tapped by the aftermarket, the car's styling is leading edge and the sticker price (starting at about $26,000) doesn't bruise the wallet.
When it comes to tuning the Z nameplate, Stillen is at the head of the class. It was one of the first to start prototyping parts for the 350Z. This silver-hued example is a rolling catalog of Stillen's extensive R&D effort. Dubbed "The SMZ," this 350 was forged in the same spirit as the original SMZ, a limited-edition 300ZX built in celebration of the Z's 25th anniversary in 1995. This version is all aftermarket, and each piece can be bought separately through Stillen or one of its dealers.
We popped the hood and were greeted by a VQ35DE aggressively topped with a twin-screw supercharger. Stillen pulley'd the blower to develop 5.7 psi of boost pressure, which translates into 312 whp and 318 lb-ft of torque. The company designed a cast-aluminum plenum that bridges the gap between the blower and the engine. The plenum also houses all the stock fuel system components and has been configured to accept a single secondary injector, which provides fuel enrichment under boost. An auxiliary controller operates in conjunction with the factory ECU to regulate the secondary injector. To expedite exhaust flow, the Z was fitted with Stillen's full stainless-steel cat-back exhaust system.
The blower's high positioning means the stock hood needs to be augmented or replaced, both issues Stillen has addressed. It offers a bolt-on hood scoop for those who wish to retain the OE hood, or a full custom composite hood for the more aggressive enthusiast.
The hood is only the first volley in an all-out body tuning attack. Stillen developed a 360-degree body kit that features a wicked front fascia, side rocker panels and a rear valance. The front bumper cover creates a spoiler effect by extending the lip under the stock grille toward the edge of the car. The center grille opening on the Stillen piece is flanked by vertical air ducts and features a vent on the driver's side to feed cool air into the intake.
Stillen addressed suspension in a different way. The strategy involves retaining the stock shocks, adding Eibach lowering coils and Stillen's crazy five-way adjustable anti-roll bars. The company says the bars allow the enthusiast to dial-in an increase in stiffness from seven to 70 percent over stock.
Stillen's Brake Pros division worked in cooperation with AP Racing to develop a wild six-piston caliper big brake package for the Z. It features huge 14.25-inch drilled and slotted two-piece rotors. Stillen also offers a less expensive but equally impressive kit consisting of four-piston calipers and 13-inch drilled and slotted rotors.
Tires are a key component in any suspension system because keeping contact with the road is critical. To this end, Stillen enlisted Yokohama AVS Sport tires and wrapped them around 19-inch Volk TE37 wheels in a race-prepped gunmetal finish.
While the original SMZ was sought after for its exclusive limited-edition status, the 350Z variant will be lusted after for its sheer performance. The SMZ combines the brute force of an NFL linebacker with the finesse and footwork of a ballet dancer. The result is a supremely balanced car and a supremely satisfying driving experience. We took the car for a quick test lap and noted there was 3 psi pumping at only 1700 rpm. Like many positive displacement blowers, the 62-inch Eaton made the engine feel bigger. It behaved like a V6, but had more of everything and seemed much more eager to flex its muscles. Stillen reports it's developing an off-road pulley kit as well as an intercooler. Rest assured, we'll put the big-boost kit on the dyno as well. Stay tuned.