Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
When the 300ZX hit Australian shores it changed the then current model's overweight boulevardier image around 180 degrees. With wind-tunnel inspired styling (Cd 0.31), a 164.5kW 24-valve, dohc, three-litre V6, all-new multi-link independent suspension, viscous diff, twin caliper anti-lock brakes all round, and a claimed top speed around the 230km/h mark, the 300ZX was a far cry from the obese luxury cruiser it replaced, and Nissan hailed it as a car capable of taking on Porsches and beating them. Wheelbase and track were increased over the current model but overall length was down thanks to minimal overhang.
Weight distribution sat at roughly 55/45 front/rear and with the cockpit moved forward the front-engined, rear-drive sports-car has something of a mid-engined profile. All-up weight was higher than the previous ZX at some 1460kg, but with a power to weight ratio of 8.9kg/kW it easily outclassed the ZX Turbo's 9.8kg/kW and even had an edge over the 9.2kg/kW ratio of the powerful Supra Turbo. Loosely based on the previous model's 60 degree three-litre V6, the VG30DE engine used a cast iron block with alloy heads mounting twin cams operating four valves per cylinder in a pent-roofed combustion chamber.
Induction was handled by electronic fuel injection, and spark came courtesy of a computerised direct ignition system which fired the centrally located plugs via a small coil on top of each one. Displacing 2960cc, the engine had a specific output of 55.6kW per litre, revved to seven grand, and produced its 164.5kW peak at 6400rpm with 264Nm delivered at 4800rpm.
A Much Better Car
In every way the 300ZX caught people by surprise, particularly given the Datsun 260 2+2
were little more than tarted boulevard tourers, offering little of the spectacular performance and handling
which established the Zed car both in Australia and around the world. Thankfully, the Nissan engineers instead chose to follow in the tradition of the hugely successful Datsun 240Z
, and in doing so the third generation 300ZX
started a new wave of attack to the high-performance
Boasting a powerful light-weight 60° twin-turbo
24-valve V6 engine,
it was capable of 155 mph (limited by electronic control)
and 0-100 km/h in around 5.6 seconds, previously times
only attainable in the likes of a Ferrari 328GTB. The engine was fitted with Nissan's ECCS (Electronic Concentrated Control System) fuel injection
which monitored not only the fuel flow, but also other critical engine functions such as temperature, mixture, spark and load to ensure the best possible fuel mixture for both performance and economy.
The new exterior styling, with its integrated bumpers, partially retractable headlights and smooth "droop snoot" bonnet line also improved the aerodynamics
for better handling, and a quiet, almost silent ride. Apart from its good looks and blistering performance, the 300ZX had
many other good things going for it, from styling that
is both handsome and imaginative, to a highly ergonomic
and comfortable cabin. The luxury appointments not normally found in a sports car were plentiful, resulting in a cockpit environment which was superbly comfortable around town and made long, fast drives a fatigue free delight.
For example, the new seven-way adjustable bucket seats featured adjustable thigh and lumbar support, and for the open air enthusiasts the lift out T-bar roof panels were removable for stoage in the boot via a simple and easy to use clip mechanism. Enthusiasts would always choose the five speed manual, which offered fast positive short throws between gears, however you could option a four-speed (three-speed plus overdrive) automatic with torque converter. The brakes
were up to the task too, being discs all round with dual master vacuum boost, and the speed sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering
was well weighted, light and gave plenty of feedback to the driver.
The 215/60VR low profile's gave a firm ride, falling just shy of being described as harsh. In many ways the handling
was only second to Porsche, which is a pretty big statement. The looks and enthusiasm were back in bucket loads.