In this series of blog posts, we already examined many cars to see if they’re sports cars or not. Today we look at the Nissan 350Z and put this car to the test to see if it’s best classified as a sports car or something else. However, let’s start with a quick answer:
The Nissan 350Z coupe and roadster are both sports cars. The 350Z has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.087 – 0.092 hp/lbs, which is more powerful than other sports cars such as the Toyota GT86 and BMW Z4. Furthermore, the car is aerodynamically designed, only has 2-doors, and is available with rear-wheel drive. All of these elements are features of a sports car.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we’ll first look into the power this car brings to the table compared to the weight that it carries. Then, we’ll discuss the car’s design, and we found out if this is sports car-like or if it’s better classified as something else. Finally, we look at the drive system and explain if the 350Z is classified as a sports car for the insurance. Read on!
Let’s first talk about the power-to-weight ratio of the 350Z. We should do this because it takes into account two of the most important factors of a sports car. First, that’s how powerful the engine is. Second, it’s how light the car is. Sports cars are generally powerful cars for the weight that they have.
However, it’s important to establish some benchmarks here. In this article, we wrote about whether or not the Dodge Dart is a sports car or not. We compared the Dart with other sports cars such as the Mazda MX-5, Toyota GT86, and the BMW Z4.
We found that these cars all have a power-to-weight ratio of 0.07 horsepower per pound or higher. Therefore, we’ll use this as our benchmark for the 350Z. Let’s first see what engines the car has and how much power these engines produce:
- 2003 – 2009: 3.5L V6
We found that the Nissan 350Z uses the same engine for all its models (whether that be the coupe or the roadster). Depending on the model year, this engine produces 287, 300, 306, or 313 horsepower, making it incredibly powerful for such a small car.
Then, there’s the weight of the car. We already wrote extensively about the Nissan 350Z’s weight for both the coupe and the roadster in this article. In this, we found the following:
- 2003 – 2005 Nissan 350Z coupe: 3,188 – 3,247 pounds
- 2003 – 2005 Nissan 350Z roadster: 3,428 – 3,462 pounds.
- 2006 – 2008 Nissan 350Z coupe: 3,339 – 3,404 pounds
- 2006 – 2009 Nissan 350Z roadster: 3,580 – 3,602 pounds.
Now, let’s look at the power-to-weight ratio of the heaviest, most powerful version of this car for each generation and body layout.
- 2003 – 2005 coupe: 0.088 hp/lbs.
- 2003 – 2005 roadster: 0.087 hp/lbs.
- 2006 – 2008 coupe: 0.092 hp/lbs.
- 2006 – 2009 roadster: 0.087 hp/lbs.
What becomes clear here is that the Nissan 350Z is not only powerful enough to be considered a sports car. It’s so powerful that it beats sports cars such as the Mazda MX-5, BMW Z4, and Toyota GT86 in terms of how much power it provides compared to its weight.
This may also beg the question of whether the Nissan 350Z can better be considered a supercar in power? However, looking at the power to weight ratio, we wouldn’t go that far. Take, for example, the Dodge Viper that we also wrote this kind of article on already. This car has a power-to-weight ratio of 1.35 hp/lbs. The Nissan 350Z is, therefore, a powerful sports car but not a supercar.
The car’s design is most likely one of the biggest differentiators between ‘normal’ cars and sports cars. The whole goal of a sports car is to make the handling very good. This way, the car can go around a track quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the design of a sports car should be aerodynamic, relatively small, and low to the ground. Also, only 2-door coupes/roadsters can be considered to be true sports cars.
When we consider these things, it becomes clear that the Nissan 350Z checks all boxes. This goes for both the coupe and the roadster. They both have only 2-doors, they’re both aerodynamically designed, and they’re small and have a low center of gravity which is ideal for going around corners on a track.
This is a car that’s made for handling well, and it has the power to go around a racetrack quickly and efficiently. There’s not much more to say: this is a sports car.
Also, there’s the drive system and engine layout of the car. True sports cars have the following elements. First, they have an engine in the front that’s located as close to the middle of the car as possible. The reason for this is that this allows for better handling and less unpredictability because the center of gravity is in the middle of the car.
Secondly, a true sports car has rear-wheel drive. This is because rear-wheel-driven cars are considered more fun to drive. After all, you can drift with them.
In the Nissan 350Z, we can see that the car has a front engine located as close to the middle of the car as possible. Furthermore, the car is only available with rear-wheel drive. Both these features mean that the 350Z is indeed a true sports car because the 350Z also checks all other boxes in terms of design and power-to-weight.
Is The Nissan 350Z Considered A Sports Car For Insurance?
Finally, there’s the question of whether or not a Nissan 350Z is considered a sports car for insurance purposes. Let it first be said that insurance companies don’t just classify a car as ‘sports car’ or ‘not a sports car.’ Insurance companies take into account many, many different factors to come up with the price. Using moneygeek.com, we found the following:
The average cost of auto insurance for insuring a 2003 model is $1,106, while a 2009 model costs roughly $1,273. Now, does that mean that insurance companies consider the 350Z to be a sports car? We would say this is indeed the case.
Yes, the 350Z is not that expensive to insure when you compare it to, for example, a new Dodge Challenger, which costs $2.270 per year, as established in this article. However, we’re still talking about a car that’s more than a decade old and costs more than $1.000 to insure.
Therefore, we feel that insurance companies see the car as a sports car, though it can be a great deal if you’re in the market for an older sports car with a lot of power.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
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