Is A Nissan 350z A Good First Car?

Deciding what to purchase as your first car can be a difficult decision to make given the number of vehicles in the market to choose from. Shopping for a used car can be even more difficult since you want to make sure that you do not purchase a car that will have large repair bills or reliability issues.

In this article, you will be presented with some factors to give thought to as you shop for cars and ultimately decide whether a 350z will be a good first car for you.

Is A Nissan 350z A Good First Car?

Since the 350z is no longer in production and has been replaced with the 370z, for drivers looking to buy a used car as their first car purchase, the 350z can be a good option if the age of the car and the older technology aren’t a turn off.

Cons Of Purchasing A 350z As A First Car

Even though the 350z was a popular car, especially when they were new, it might not be the right fit as a first car for all buyers.

The following are some of the negative aspects of buying a 350z as a first car:

Age Of The Vehicle

The Nissan 350z was produced from 2002 to 2009 and can no longer be purchased as a new vehicle. Buying a used car can be a tricky situation to navigate since many people sell their cars once they begin to have mechanical failures or other issues that they no longer wish to address.

Buying a quality used sports car can be even trickier since sports car owners tend to push the vehicles to their limits during their period of ownership.

Another aspect which makes sports cars more difficult to buy used is the fact that they tend to be modified by their former owners.

Modifying a car is not always a problem, but it can become a problem when the car is heavily modified or modified incorrectly which causes the car to operate beyond its engineered limits.


The 350z largely resembles the 370z that is currently being sold by Nissan. While this fact is true, some updates have been made which may cause some buyers to become disenchanted with the older styling of the 350z.

Older Technology

Another factor to consider when buying the 350z as a first car that is related to the age of the vehicle is the older technology present in the 350z.

While much of the technology available in the car was on par with what was being offered at the time that the car was being sold as new, technology has advanced a great deal since the 350z was produced.

If you are shopping for a first car and want some of the bells and whistles that newer cars offer such as lane keep assist blind-spot monitoring or remote start the 350z may not be the right choice for you.

Large Engine In Small Engine Bay

The 350z was produced using Nissan’s famous VQ 6-cylinder engine. In order to fit the engine in the engine bay without making the car much larger which could detract from the car’s handling capabilities, the car has a rather large engine crammed into a small engine bay.

Many owners who perform their own car repairs have complained that tasks which are easy to complete in other cars with larger engine bays can be a bit more difficult or time-consuming when performed on the 350z given the cramped engine bay.

Rear Wheel Drive

The 350z was only produced in rear-wheel drive and there is no factory option for all-wheel drive. While rear-wheel-drive cars are known for providing great handling and their overall fun factor, they do have an Achilles heel which is inclement weather.

If you live in an area where you are prone to the occurrence of frozen precipitation, a rear-wheel-drive vehicle may not be the best option for you especially if you are an inexperienced driver.

Small Interior

Since the 350z is a sports car, it was not designed with space in mind and isn’t intended to haul or store large objects.

Some prospective car buyers who are tall or a bit larger in frame than the average person may find that the interior of the 350z to be cramped or even be uncomfortable, especially for long-distance driving.

Oil Burning

The Nissan VQ engine is an overall good engine that has been used by the manufacturer in many of their vehicles.

One issue that is commonly complained about by many owners of the 350z and other Nissan products using this engine is excessive oil burning.

Even when the cars were new, oil-burning was an ever-present issue plaguing vehicles with this engine and in many instances, the issue will only get worse with increased time and mileage.

Power Output

The 350z produced between 287 – 306 horsepower and between 260 to 274 lb.-ft of torque depending on the trim level and year chosen.

While these were respectable numbers for a sports car during the 350z’s heyday, there have been significant increases in power output since then.

Now family sedans such as the Maxima or even the Lexus ES-350 offer similar power numbers and sports cars such as the 6-cylinder Camaro produce more power than the 350z.

Octane Requirement & Gas Mileage

The 350z is only offered with a 6-cylinder engine that requires premium octane gasoline. The dependency on premium octane gasoline may be an unattractive feature of the vehicle, especially given the fuel mileage that the car achieves.

As vehicles age the fuel mileage that they achieve often decreases, when new the 350z got 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 miles per gallon on the highway.

Pros Of Buying A WRX As A First Car

Even though we have presented some cons associated with purchasing a 350z as a first car, there are also some benefits that can be obtained.

The 350z offers the following positive aspects:

Transmission Options

One of the great aspects of the 350z are the transmission options that are available. The 350z was manufactured with both manual and automatic transmissions

If you are a driver who wants the experience of owning a car with a manual transmission the 350z is a great option and as many of us manual transmission lovers have discovered, the number of cars being offered with manual transmissions is dwindling.

Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle of having the change gears yourself, 350z’s are also offered with automatic transmissions.

Another benefit of the 350z’s transmission is that the automatic transmission is a traditional automatic with actual gears.

Many car manufacturers have begun replacing traditional automatic transmissions with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT). Even though the CVT offers some benefits, many drivers are not enthused about owning a vehicle with a CVT given some of its shortcomings.

Offered In A Convertible Option

While the 350z was not offered with a sunroof option, it was produced in a convertible. If you are a person who wants a bit more sunlight or to have the wind blowing through your hair (or scalp if you are balding like me) the 350z roadster is a great option.

If you are shopping for the roadster keep in mind that it was built during a period when hardtop convertibles were not as prevalent as they are now and the 350z only offers a soft-top convertible.

Opportunity To Learn How To Repair Cars

As we previously stated, the 350z is no longer being produced by Nissan therefore the only examples of these cars that you will find in the marketplace will be used.

While owning a used vehicle can present some cons, there are also benefits to be realized as well. Since the newest 350z was produced in 2009, there will likely be repairs that need to be made to your car soon after you purchase it.

Many of us have learned how to work on cars as the vehicle that we owned needed repairs and we attempted to perform the repairs ourselves to save money or to get our car back on the road quickly.

Purchasing a 350z will more than likely provide you the opportunity to work on the vehicle at some point during your ownership of it.

Older Technology Provides Greater Connection With The Vehicle

Even though the technology in the 350z is outdated compared to the new technology available in modern-day cars, that could be a benefit to some prospective buyers.

Some drivers find the new technology to be intrusive and that it interferes with their connectivity with their car.

Additionally, the lack of modern technology in the 350z makes the car easier to own in some respects since there are less components to fail.


One of the biggest considerations when purchasing any vehicle whether it is your first vehicle, or you have purchased other vehicles in the past is the car’s price point.

The price of a used car is largely dependent on the age, condition, and mileage of the vehicle.

Used 350z’s that are older with high mileage can be found for as little as $6k or lower while 350z’s built later in the cars production cycle with relatively low mileage for their age can be found listed for $20k or more.


Since the 350z is not a large car it can be easier to maneuver than some larger vehicles. This can be a great benefit for newer drivers who are still developing their driving skills.

Standard Features

The various features that are offered standard on all trim levels of the 350z also add to its value as a good first car. A few standard features are:

  • Cup Holders (can be rare in sports cars)
  • Seatbelts with Pretensioners
  • Dual Stage Supplemental Front Airbags (check for airbag recalls as many Nissan vehicles had airbag recalls)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights
  • Dual Power/Heated Outside Mirrors
  • Security System with Vehicle Immobilizer

Final Thoughts

Deciding which car to purchase is a process to which many people devote hours of research. The 350z provides an opportunity to own a sporty car with either a manual or automatic transmission. The Nissan 350z can be a very good first car to purchase if you keep in mind that the car will be used and therefore will likely require some maintenance.

If you aren’t convinced the Nissan 350z is for you, check out other sporty options for a first car such as the Subaru WRX, Camaro, and the Mustang.

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