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Nissan is calling the 370Z an all-new car, and it's hard to argue with that. The wheelbase of this sixth-generation car is almost four inches shorter than the previous-generation 350Z, and all of the sheet metal is new. Overall, the 2009 Nissan 370Z is 2.7 inches shorter and 1.3 inches wider, and although the styling has something plainly in common with the previous (2008) model, almost every plane and contour is subtly or distinctly different.
As a gesture of respect to the designers of the first Z-car, the base line of the rear quarter window sweeps up just as it did on the original 1970 Datsun 240Z. In more modern vein, the front and rear light shapes are hooked (or barbed) for improved visual effect, and are quite unlike the symmetrical shapes found on the preceding model.
At the rear, the new lights combine with more-rounded contours to produce an elegant effect not unlike that of a Porsche. Altogether, we think the appearance is more subtle and mature than the somewhat squat aspects of the outgoing model.
There's still ample space in the seats for two occupants to travel in comfort, but the interior ambiance is now much improved by the new design and the choice of far more suitable textures.
Now enlarged to 3.7-liters, the V6 engine has plenty of power and a high operating speed. It's hooked to a six-speed manual with Nissan's interesting new SynchroRev system that matches revs for you on downshifts as long as the system is switched on at a button alongside the gear position indicator. The seven-speed automatic transmission does something very similar, blipping the throttle to match revs when you tug the paddle for a downshift.
By keeping the model variations to a minimum, but splitting the available options essentially between manual and automatic, basic and Touring, Nissan has broadened the appeal of its iconic Z-car in a meaningful way.