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2009 Nissan 370Z.


The all powerful Nissan 370Z

Is it real? Yes, it’s a sixth-generation redesign, with two models for the taking, the Z and the Z Touring.

What they said: The Z-car is the “greatest performance value in the world,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager of the Nissan division. But the “most powerful Z ever” hype was followed (all too closely) by, “In these trying times, we see a need to return to our roots,” with a pitch for the 34-mile-a-gallon, $9,990 Versa.

What they didn’t say: A few words — green, electric, hybrid and environment — were unmentionables at the unveiling, although Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan, handled those in his morning keynote address. But performance talk was refreshing on the show floor; it almost seems that uttering “sports car” and “need for speed” at the jolly green giant LA Auto Show is like shouting fire in a crowded theater. Which is actually appropriate, since the Z is just as hot.

What makes it tick? The lighter — can you imagine? — Z will have a new 3.7-liter V-6 that makes 332 horses, up 26 from the previous engine. Two transmissions were also introduced, the premiere of the SynchroRev Match manual gearbox, which adjusts engine speed to the speed of the next gear position for smooth shifts, and a seven-speed automatic.

How much, how soon? Starting at $29,930, with the coupe on sale in January and a roadster in the 2010 model year.

How’s it look? Blink, and you may not notice the change from generation five. But blink again and you may think sexy GT-R. Close your eyes entirely if you can’t stand the sight of a good time ahead.

Rating: ★★★★

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