Nissan 350Z car an arresting experience

Nissan has a tradition for sporty 'Z cars' – Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, checks out the 350Z as a used buy.

Engines – Unsurprisingly it's petrol all the way with the 350Z – a 3.5-litre V6 putting out a useful 276bhp in launch trim. This smooth engine delivers a tuneful and distinctive rasp when worked hard, which does much to boost the overall fun factor.

Exterior – A handsome and compact car, the 350Z ushered in a new era of sporting cars for the Japanese company. In convertible Roadster trim, the 350Z looses nothing in the conversion from low-slung coupe. In fact, contrary to some rivals, Nissan has done a great job in the way the fabric roof is stored when down.

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Interior – Lots of hard black plastic abounds in the cabin but there's a slight retro feel to 305Z's interior, what with its chunky switchgear and no-nonsense instruments. There's enough room for two and that's pretty much it, although oddment space is ample.

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Driving – The rear-wheel drive 350Z won over the critics in coupe form and it's much the same story with the soft-top Roadster. A sprightly car, the Roadster offers real-world thrills and a tuneful soundtrack to boot. Easy to drive on a daily basis, the car's ample power ensures rapid progress.

Ownership – The car's powered fabric roof operates quickly and stows with little fuss, while roof-down motoring is surprisingly refined. Elsewhere, the car boasts plenty of kit, is straightforward to drive and the running costs are modest. Rearward vision isn't the best with the roof up, but that's a small price to pay for the flexibility and enjoyment the 350Z delivers.

What to look for – With the convertible roof performing a large role here, it's essential to inspect it for damage and ensure it works as described. Performance cars can lead a hard life, which makes conducting a test-drive an essential part of the buying routine. Be alert to unusual sounds and behaviour – soggy brakes, worn clutch, clunking suspension – that could hint at neglect and costly repair bills. Along with a spotless interior a comprehensive service history is a must.

Model history – 2005, Nissan launches the convertible Roadster version of its popular 350Z sports car coupe. Powered by the same 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine, this rear-wheel drive car offered an affordable alternative to the likes of Porsche's Boxster. Generous kit levels and a powered roof topped off an already impressive package.

Reasons to buy – Looks, performance, roof, ease of use, kit levels.

Reasons to beware – Modest size cabin, dark ambiance with roof up, limited boot space.

Pick of the range – 350Z Roadster GT.

What to pay – 2006 06 �10,400; 2007 07 �11,625; 2007 57 �12,075; 2008 08 �13,550; 2008 58 �14,000; 2009 09 �14,950; 2009 59 �15,550; 2010 59 �15,975. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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