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Sunday, August 3, 2008

2009 Nissan 370Z Compact Coupe

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What Says:A leaner, less brutal Z car should go a long way toward generating more interest in Nissan's often overlooked sportscar.

What We Know: All the talk out of Nissan recently has been about the GT-R supercar, but the 2009 Nissan 370Z is headed our way soon as well. An early test mule for the next-generation Z-car was spotted testing at the Nurburgring test track in Germany last year. It wore what looked like sheet metal from the current-generation Z, but a closer inspection makes it clear that the car was substantially modified. At roughly 3,600 pounds, the current-model Z-car is far heavier than its natural competition, the 2,900-pound Porsche Cayman and the 3,100-pound BMW Z4.

We think Nissan is looking to push the Z closer to its natural competitors when it comes to performance, and this cut-down chassis might be an attempt to create a leaner, lighter Z. Instead of employing exotic materials to reduce the Z-car's weight, it looks like Nissan is simply whittling down the chassis to a smaller size. The current Z has a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, and while the next-gen Z isn't likely to match the short 95.1-inch wheelbase of the Porsche Cayman, we're guessing something between the two numbers is a safe bet.

And don't be surprised to see a 370Z badge planted on the trunk lid of this new car, as an upgrade to Nissan's new 3.7-liter V6 is also likely to appear. Rated at 330 horsepower in the Infiniti G37, the 370Z's V6 would probably come in around 320-325 hp, a modest bump to the 306 hp delivered by the current 3.5-liter V6.