2003: Nissan 350Z
“A real sports car doesn’t come along every day. That’s one reason the Nissan 350Z is an event. And, like every real sports car, it has a kind of purity to it, a dynamic quality that’s beyond the usual empty phrases about good power and good handling.
“It is a terrific car, yet the company also found a way to make it affordable. There are five different models: Z, Performance, Enthusiast, Touring, and Track. Prices range from $26,809 to $34,519, but the power output and suspension calibration are the same throughout the line. The Z is also a fashionable piece. Nissan is using it as the signature of its new outlook on the car business, an approach apparent not just in its ‘Shift’ brand-awareness advertising campaign but also in a series of Z-themed underground concerts held across the country.
“It has all come from the original 1970 240Z, the masterstroke of Yutaka Katayama, who even now, at age ninety-three, is the company’s foremost spokesman for performance and driving pleasure. Mr. K’s Z-car was a kind of promise to everyone who cares about driving, a statement of purpose that will forever define Nissan. The 350Z delivers on the promise, and that might be the best thing about it.”