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Nissan 350Z

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  • I don't know about these Japanese cars failing because they were too cheap. I just hope the new Z isn't too expensive when you start puting options on it. I think that Nissan desperately needs two coupes, the Z and a lower-end model, to compete with Honda and Toyota
  • ambullambull Posts: 255
    I found the following article about Nissan, which includes info about the Z. See "Nissan Revival Plan showing big results" under Recent Stories at http://www.autoweek.com
  • You know, I think I'd prefer having a convertible. I don't really like the roofline of the new Z very much, and although I realize it's an essential part of the design (it maintains a link to the Z's long history), I think it could have been styled more elegantly. Just my opinion.

    Hambone, the Z does not have to compete with Honda and Toyota, rather Honda and Toyota need to compete with it. The 350Z fills the niche (which by the Z's inception will be empty) formerly occupied by the Honda Prelude. Except the Z has a two crucial differences: 1) it has a V6, and 2) it actually has exciting style (that's something Honda and Toyota will never match, by the looks of it). But you are right that there needs to be another coupe. My vote goes to the beautiful 200SX (Silvia) - get it over here, Nissan!
  • ambullambull Posts: 255
    I don't know how reliable it is, but here is a link to a new coupe Nissan is developing. It kinda looks like an ugly Prelude:

    http://thehollywoodextra.com/nissan/nissan.html
  • Actually, that IS an ugly Prelude.

    That website is wrong =)
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    That looks a lot like an Accord Coupe that got put in the dryer and shrunk a bit.
  • flyingfish, Nissan could compete in the coupe market with Honda and Toyota, but they don't. I was in the market for a coupe, no four-dour, no way. Honda has the Civic, Accord, and S2000, basically something for everyone. Toyota has the Celica and Solara (I bought the Solara). Nissan has nothing. They don't build the Z yet, so you can't buy one. The thing is a year away. My last two cars were Nissans and I had to go to another company for a coupe. That sucks. What do you think the new Z will going to cost? I think they will be around $30,000, which will compete with S2000, the only sports car in the aforementioned bunch.
  • I hate to say this, but the new 350 is oh so ugly. It looks like an egg gone bad. How could they do this? The 300ZX is still one of the cleanest designs around and it was introduced 12 years ago. Why did Nissan have to screw this one up?
  • I like the last 300ZX better... As least in the looks department...
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    I do as well. The new 350Z is, like the RSX, a bit too swooping and egg-like for me. I'm still waiting for something in an SC400 body to make a comeback, I don't care who makes it.
  • hambone: Hmm. I guess you have me there. I see, then, what Nissan needs to do is sell the 200SX here. If they added a car with the GT-R body and a less sophisticated engine and interior and sold it for $30,000, alongside a $22,000 200SX, Nissan could compete for those markets, but you're right, they don't. Funny.

    bobbyknight: the 240SX's designed in 1988 are also still pretty fresh-looking. Both the coupes and the hatchbacks could probably still be sold today, with some minor changes to the headlights.
  • >>>>If they added a car with the GT-R body and a less sophisticated engine and interior and sold it for $30,000<<<<

    Who is going to buy one? You are into the Market level of a Cobra Mustang or an SS F body, which would suck the doors off something like that.
  • Yes Nissan could compete in the coupe market. However, it wouldn't be with a detuned GTR for $30,000. That's what the 350z is suposed to sell for, so why bring a $30,000 GTR to compete with themselves? The GTR would make a good sports model above the Z. There are rumors that Nissan may bring the full blown GTR after they introduce the Skyline(Infiniti G45). Don't know how well it would sell though for the same reasons that the NSX doesn't sell in large numbers, and the older Japanese sports cars failed.

    Oh, but if they did bring a GTR with the RB26DETT, it would be the one blowing the doors off Cobra's and SS's.

    It would be awsome if they brought over the Silvia too(200SX, JDM version of 240sx). We did have the 240sx in 1989 through 1997. Both the S13/RPS13(fastback) and S14 chassis(I have a S13 as my name says). However, they are on the S15 chassis in Japan right now, and it's one of the best looking sport compact cars in the world(and it sends power to the correct wheels, the rear). It would sell like crazy if they brought it over and priced/marketed it between the SER Spec V and 350z. That would put it right in the range of the RSX, GTS, WRX, etc. It would out perform all except possibly the WRX, which would make for a very close race. They should move on to the an S16 chassis within a few years, and maybe if we're lucky it will make it to the US. Actually now that I think about it, there is a chance that it could. Infiniti has said that all of there future models will be RWD. If they want a smaller car, they currently have no chassis to base it off of in the USA. So, if infiniti decides they want a smaller car(like the old G20 or J30) they will pretty much have to bring over the Silvia.

    Lastly, I wouldn't exactly call the Honda Prelude a niche car. It's a FWD sport compact car. The Integra/RSX is virtually the same thing, atleast performance wise. There's also the Celica, Sentra, and many many other crappy FWD SCC's(sorry, I'm a RWD and AWD fan, so I don't really think they are crappy, just their driveline). The Z is completly different, it's RWD, has better performance, image, it's a 2 seater. Basically the Z is a sports car, the Prelude is a sport compact car.

    The Z is kinda a niche car for now. Performance wise, it does have a lot of competitors in the sports car market(S2000, soon to be RX8, M3, M Coupe/Roadster, Boxster, 911, Corvette, etc, etc, I'm not saying it will outperform all of these, just that it will be in their performance range). However the only real competitor within it's price range is the S2000 which as we all know is a roadster, so kinda different market(although I'm sure many will cross shop). I think the RX8 will be the closest competitor when it comes out.

    Sorry for the long post, I just haven't replied lately and I'm a big Nissan fan.
  • I think I meant $19,000 Silvia and $23,000 Skyline. That's what you get for not converting Canadian dollars first. Who would buy one? Someone looking to cross-shop something with an Accord coupe or a Camry Solara, Pontiac Grand Prix or Chrysler Sebring Coupe; and who finds a suitable Nissan in the price range with luxury options. Sorry for the confusion.

    And the Prelude competing with the Integra? No, I don't think so. Why would Honda be so stupid? The Prelude is not in a niche with the Integra, imo.
  • People looking into Japanese sports cars/coupes aren't looking into American Muscle Cars for a certain reason we like to call driving a DRIVERS car. The only thing Mustangs/FBodies are good for is driving straight. I'll give you the Mustang Cobra, that handles pretty well but not comparable to many Japanese cars. Just because YOU would buy an American muscle car, doesn't mean people will. They're in different niches if you ask me.
  • At that price range, you're also in a category with the 325Ci, IS300, and base-level CL. Which one looks better now?

    Gee for that price, which would you buy? A 325Ci or a Camaro SS? The two may be in the same price range, but are in entirely separate classes.
  • I'd say the Integra and Prelude couldn't be more alike. Both FF(front engine, front drive) coupes, similar size, performance, options, etc, etc. They pretty much both define the FF compact market. Also, I don't think the Prelude has been selling very well, which could be due to competition within Honda(especially now that the RSX is out). I don't see any niche for the prelude, there's lots of competition in this class.

    Oh, and Nissan does have something in the same market as the Accord, Grand Am, etc. The 240HP Altima.

    IMO, they do need to bring over a good car for the upper end of the sport compact market. The SE-R is a nice car, but it's mostly suited to competing with the ZX3's, SI's, etc. Basically it's at the lower end of the SCC market. The Silvia would be the perfect car to compete in the upper end(WRX, RSX, Prelude, GTS, etc). Then the Z can be marketed towards the true sports car market(S2000, etc) and thus, no internal competition.
  • Prelude imo was a class slightly above the Integra. Since Honda doesn't make anything but front-engine, front-drivers (S2000 being the only exception... it is atypical Honda), it would be hard to separate the classes that way. Prelude had three things that Integra didn't: weight, torque, and traction control. Prelude was Honda's best imitation of a heavy cruiser, while the Integra was a light, nimble sporty car. The Integra's bread-and-butter engine had 140hp, the Prelude had 200hp and gobs more torque from a 25% larger engine. If you ask me, 25% more displacement, 40 more hp, 40 more lb-ft, and 500lbs more puts it into a separate class. Do you disagree?

    Now, comparing the Prelude to the RSX isn't really fair, since the Prelude was already on the way out when RSX cannibalized its market. That really is the reason Prelude's being cancelled: the Integra became too similar and internal competition would be too great. Come to think of it, that's probably also the reason the 3rd-gen Integra lasted 8 years.

    The Altima can compete with the Grand Am and Accord sedans, but if you're looking for a coupe, Nissan's lost your business.

    Nissan, if you're listening:
    Sentra, 200SX. One coupe, one sedan, same engines (SR20DE).
    Altima, 300SX. One coupe, one sedan. Give the 300SX the VQ30DD.
    Maxima, 350ZX. One coupe, one sedan, one convertible.
    There's something for everybody here (bring in the Wingroad or Avenir to compete with Protege5, Matrix/Vibe, IS300 Sportcross, Focus ZX5). Not only that, but the numbering would make sense again!
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    ...but I think the Prelude's survival until 2002 is a tribute to Honda. Anybody else putting out an equivalent car would have had to practically give it away IMHO.

    I am a fan of Honda, having just bought an S2000. I also owned two previous Acuras - an 1987 Integra and 1995 Legend GS 6-speed. To me, the Prelude was a total mystery. Perhaps heavier and with more horsepower than the Integra, but behind it in true performance. And well behind newer offerings by Audi, BMW and others relative to a "luxury" sport coupe. I never could figure out who the Honda's target buyer was. A long former girlfriend of mine bought two over the years, but she was a study in contradictions herself (i.e. nuts).

    That the Prelude survived as long as it did is a tribute to the fact that Honda has an excellent reputation and that some people will buy almost anything with their marque on it. But I think the Prelude was barely competitive as a "near luxury sport coupe" at least 5-7 years before it got its plug pulled. Dont' get me wrong - it was a very solid car but just with a combination of characteristics that resulted in a very narrow market appeal.

    Just my 2 cents.

    P.S. Another "just my opinion" comment. There may be some people that absolutely prefer a two door coupe, but for me, I would only give up the extra versitility of a sedan if I was getting something in exchange for going the coupe route: namely performance or exceptional aesthetics. I made that choice when I got the S2000 as a third car. But when I got my 1995 Nissan Maxima SE, I tested the Accord Sedan and Coupe and found that neither performed as well. Notwithstanding some notable successes (CLK, 330ci), the luxury "sport coupe" is a marketing challange today, partly because of the quality of performance sedans from BMW, Audi and others. I was either going with a replacement sedan (530i sport) or a true sports car as a third car (S2000), but couldn't rationalize a coupe (M3) as our family's second car.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    As one of the "nuts" who bought three Preludes over the years (each time over Integras and other compacts) the appeal of the Prelude was the niche in terms of driving feel that I feel it did occupy and partly define. One review I read described it as japanese engineering, german solidity. The Prelude had a lot of moves in its arsenal that I only see in cars costing twice as much, including road feedback, steering precision and (in the Type SH) overall handling, balance and traction at the limits. It's also one of the very few cars I could take to 10/10ths comfortably while the other "sporty compacts" started to feel skittish. Drive one back to back with an Integra at 120mph and you'll see what I mean... must be all that extra weight.

    I think the problem with the Prelude was, as you said, the fact that it wasn't clear who was being targetted. It definitely wasn't for the pocket rocket crowd that couldn't afford it and would get better performance and more tossability out of a lighter car anyway. It wasn't the "sports car" crowd that wanted more performance and could either afford much more, or would go used to get it. I think the target market was people like me from a year or two ago: people who wanted a serious driver-oriented car (in the same vein as a 911 or a M3) but just didn't have deep pockets. A friend of mine who owned an SH and now owns an '99 M3 (I think '99) told me the Prelude was 70% of his M3 at 50% of the cost. If you wanted a driver-oriented, low-slung, uncommon true coupe (true = has a trunk) then the Prelude was virtually the only game in town without adding $15-25k to the price tag. Unfortunately, we're not a big market; tossability definitely comes at the expense of solidity unless you're ready for some big car payments, and most people in my age and income level will choose tossability over solidity while auto journalists will choose solidity. That's why the Prelude won the awards, while the Integras got sold out.

    The other thing to remember is that the Prelude, built in Japan, was subject to some hefty import taxes, unlike (as of 2001) pretty much all of its competitors. Like many other imports, U.S.-spec'd Preludes were neutered versions of their JDM cousins. The Prelude Type S sold in Japan came with heated leather seats, a 220hp engine with more torque, standard ATTS AND four wheel steering, navigation, and the works. It was a compact performance-oriented luxury cruiser that would have competed directly with a 325Ci or a TT... but that car never made it to our shores.

    I would have loved to see that car with a 2.3L I4 and a low-boost factory supercharger, and more meaty tires at all four corners, it would have been the Honda version of the CLK. I would have paid low $30s for it, even with the Honda logo on the grill...
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    But getting back to the 350Z, the reason the Prelude gets brought up here is its similarty to the previous Z (and the Supra) both of which earned reputations as heavy cruisers, obviously positioned considerably higher up the ladder than Honda's entry. It looks like this market all but evaporated, the only survivors being luxury european coupes like the CLK that themselves are not exactly high-volume vehicles. When the 350Z returns, should it be a CLK, or should it be a S2000?
  • There is no way Honda would ever produce a car with forced induction. That's the reason they didn't ever compete with the Z, Supra, RX-7.

    I live on a university campus, and can't relp but notice what a huge sales success the Prelude has been. There are as many Preludes as there are Integras, and this on a campus where 1 in 4 cars is a Honda/Acura. That makes for an awful lot of Preludes. I think that the 350Z should have a model available in the general price range of the Prelude ($28,000 - $33,000) to appeal to all these current Prelude owners, with a turbo roadster version not going higher than the S2000 ($48,000).

    If the price gets too high (over $50,000), then sales will be slow. Take the Audi TT for instance: the $50,000-59,000 price range puts it out of reach for many, and they remain a rare sight on these roads. The Z is similar in conception to the TT, but selling the car in the wrong price range will have a negative effect on sales.

    300ZX - 3.0L, 240hp, $28,500
    350ZX - 3.5L, 295hp, $35,000
    350ZXT - 3.5L turbo, 330hp, $41,000

    (The engines are hypothetical, the prices are in Canadian $ 'cuz I'm too lazy to convert right now)
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    ..is a nice dream, but it isn't very realistic. A 295hp 350Z for $35,000 Canadian (coverts to under $23,000 US today) is just a little greedy. If I'm not mistaken, that's $2k Canadian less than a Maxima SE 6-speed.

    I think the $32k to $36k USD price range for a 350Z will allow Nissan to produce a high quality car that competes with some costing $10k+ more from Europe. A sub-$30k 350Z is likely to require compromises that would kill the car for someone like me. And I think I represent at least one of the target demographics Nissan has in mind. I just bought an S2000 as a third car and, although I could afford a BMW M roadster, SLK320 or Boxter S, felt that the S2000 was very competitive in performace and much easier to justify on the pocketbook.


    If you want something "fun" for $25k, get an Acura RSX-S. I'm a little to old for going in that direction and, had it not been for the great all-around performance attributes of the S2000, I would probably be driving an M3 Coupe this spring.

    Also, the idea that you can stick 3 engines in a car and end up with a $10k price differential is, IMHO, the wrong approach. The S2000 has a world class chassis. The difference in production cost between the different engines mentioned above is probably less than $500. I read where the new 3.5L replacing the 3.0L in the Maxima/I35 is actually within $100 of the production cost of the former. A $10k price differential between different "versions" of the Z would require a lot more compromises than a few cc's of displacement. There is nothing wrong with the new Z not being affordable to everyone.
  • >>>>I think the $32k to $36k USD price range for a 350Z will allow Nissan to produce a high quality car that competes with some costing $10k+ more from Europe. <<<<<

    If a level headed buyer, who doesn't have his snoot up about driving a foreign car, looks at a Cobra Mustang, he would be a fool to buy a "Z". He could pocket anywhere from $2 to $6K by your numbers and still get a better car. If he wants a real rocket, all he has to do is put a blower on the Cobra and he will blow past anything out of Europe at three times the price.
  • and I can build a dragster frame, put a hearse engine in it and blow the hell out of your mustang cobra for 10,000 less. Whats your point?

    The mustang is ugly. It has a big nose heavy front end. It understeers pretty bad. It is too long, too wide, and too heavy to be competitive. It handles like a whale(the cobra only slightly better than the GT). And it has a cheap and ugly interior. There is a reason why people are snooty about not driving a mustang.
  • Oh, and I could take a Datsun 510. Swap in an SR20DET. Tweek it to about 350hp. Run circles around the Cobra, and all for under $10,000. Heck it could probably be done for under $5,000.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    ..I am completely unwilling to give a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro the time of day when it comes to my automotive preferences. For me, the aesthetic appeal of these cars is nonexistant.

    And the idea that 0-60 would be the ultimate measure of a car's performance is not where I am at. That would be like suggesting I should like the design of a tract house by a production builder better than Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater because the tract house is bigger.

    So why is your dream car a Ferrari 360?? Maybe you actually "get it" and just can't admit it?
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    I'm attracted to the Mustang on exhaust note alone. Having tuned into the exhaust notes of such storied cars as a Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, 911 Carrera, and a Honda S2000 with VTEC activated, the Mustang's growl (all V8 trims) still is the most intoxicating note I've heard. I'd probably add a few thousand dollars to the price of the car just for that sound, and it does go a long way towards making up for the body roll, visibility, interior quality, traction, sloppy steering, and other problems with the car. (Obviously it doesn't make up for all of it, or I'd have bought a GT, but it does help.)

    One other thing - the Mustang GT, Cobra and Cobra SVT convertibles are hands down define a niche occupied by no others, now that the Camaro is dead. There are pretty much no cars putting up those kinds of performance numbers at that price, with a droptop.

    So I definitely give the Mustang its due; just because it's not right for me doesn't mean I can't respect it for what it is, and what it does well.
  • Ok, then. Back to my original idea:

    1) Sell a coupe with the Altima's V-6, and price it just above the Altima: $29,000 - $32,000. That 240hp would not only wipe out the RSX-S and the Accord V6 (for about the same price), but it would match the Grand Prix GTP and come close to the Mustang GT coupe (for about the same price). Call it 300SX or 350SX (depending on which engine goes in), but think of it as an "Altima coupe". The current Silvia body would work well. Z aside, I think Nissan needs to do this anyway.

    2) Sell the base 350ZX just above Maxima's range ($39,000) where it would compete directly in price with the BMW 325Ci and the Acura CL Type-S. If the price goes any higher than this, the Z will price itself out of the market for a second time. Even in this situation, comparing the Z to a 325Ci is a bit of a stretch, unless the Z is sold as an Infiniti model. Maybe that's what needs to happen. People often don't accept the idea of a $40k Mazda, and they might not accept a $40k Nissan.

    On the other hand, Nissan could charge a ludicrously high price tag for the Z. Charge $59,000 - $65,000, give it at least 375hp and pit it directly against the Corvette. That would give it a "supercar" image and an aura about it that could not possibly come from a $40,000 car. I'd almost give it a better chance at survival in the $60k range than in the $40k range.

    In summary: as good as I think the Z is, I don't give it very good chances of succeeding in the market today unless it can be a relatively inexpensive volume seller (e.g. Accord coupe, Camry Solara). If not, I can forsee it becoming a shrowded, quirky, expensive toy for midlife crises and the kids of millionaires (like Audi TT and Porsche Boxster... no offense intended), not the high-volume seller that Nissan needs it to be.

    Just my $0.02 ($0.0126 USD).
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