A small team of Nissan development engineers working in their spare time have transformed a 350Z into a highly tuned ‘Saturday Special'. Called the GT-S, the supercharged super coupe is a performance-focused version of Nissan's acclaimed ‘Z-‘car' and is designed to appeal to enthusiastic 350Z owners who simply want more.
Its first public outing will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (7-9 July) where it will join other exotic road cars in the Supercar Paddock and on the famous hillclimb course.
Although boasting a power hike and a substantially modified chassis, the GT-S is far from being a stripped out racing car with a rock hard ride and a peaky power delivery.
Nissan's Communications Director Wayne Bruce says: 'The GT-S has been created as a real car not an ornament.
'We wanted to build a ‘Club Special' that could still be used to commute to work during the week but would provide added thrills at the weekend: a weekday workhorse and a weekend warrior in one distinctive package.'
The project's technical leader Steve Robbins – who during the week is a senior engineer in the new vehicle evaluation team at NTCE – gathered together half a dozen like-minded enthusiasts to work on the project.
Working after hours and at the weekend, the team members came from within NTCE and also from outside suppliers and was known internally as the S-Club Seven.
The principal changes made to turn the 350Z into the GT-S center on its engine and chassis. Úsing a supercharger installation from Swiss manufacturers Novidem, power has increased by more than 25 per cent from 300 bhp to 382 bhp, while torque rises from 260 lb-ft to a heady 314 lb-ft.
Performance gains are expected to include a one second cut in the benchmark 0-60 mph time (5.8 seconds for the standard 350Z) with 2.5 seconds slashed from the 0-100 mph time.
And it sounds better, too, thanks to an electronically controlled by-pass valve that enriches the exhaust note at a pre-determined engine speed.
NTCE engineers have undertaken the suspension changes. Working closely with specialists from Bilstein, the changes concentrate on optimizing road performance, with improvements in both handling ability and ride comfort, particularly on British ‘B' roads. Wider wheels and tires complete the chassis alterations.
A wind tunnel developed body/aero kit from German firm Strosek not only gives the all-black GT-S a distinctive look, but also improves the 350Z's aerodynamic performance with increased front and rear downforce at speed. The package is completed by a NVH pack which makes the GT-S even more civilized than the standard 350Z.
Steve Robbins said: 'We could have produced a balls-out racer with huge power outputs and very little suspension movement. But while this would have created a superb racer, it would have been virtually unusable on the road. Instead we approached the GT-S from an engineering stand-point with a view to creating a 350Z that provides more of everything: performance, handling, looks, comfort and excitement.
'We also looked at the possible marketing potential of such a project and have designed the improvements as individual ‘packs' – an engine pack, a suspension pack, aero pack and so on – and kept a close eye on costs.'
So will the GT-S ultimately become more than a weekend project by a group of mavericks? Nissan is saying nothing officially, though insiders point to its appearance at Goodwood as a sign the company is giving the GT-S concept serious consideration.Goodwood Festival of Speed
Nissan has been showing its 350Z in the Supercar Paddock for the last three years where it has attracted as much attention as cars costing up to eight times as much. This year's entrant, called the 350Z GT-S concept, is the most special yet. The same talented team at Nissan's Cranfield Technical Centre who tailored the current 350Z to European driving needs have taken the car another step further. And they've been doing it in their spare time. Supercharging takes the power output of the Z's much loved 3.5-litre V6 engine from 300PS to 380PS, the brakes have been uprated with different discs and pads, and the suspension has been retuned to accommodate the extra power as well as increasing grip in all conditions. Which includes Goodwood's famous hillclimb on which the 350Z GT-S concept will be making its first dynamic appearance.
The 350Z GT-S concept also sports a full body kit which has been developed to aid aerodynamics, increase down force and direct cooling air over the braking system. Wheels have been changed, too, but stick to the 18 inch diameter keeping weight to a minimum. The interior will also be going on a diet but this will be displayed at a later date.
Singer Duncan James (formally of Blue) took time out from promoting his new solo album to drive the supercharged 350Z GT-S concept in the Supercar Run on Sunday. And a fine show he put on, too. As if the crowd wasn't excited enough, Duncan slowed the car down on the straight, revved the engine, dropped the clutch and did a tyre smoking start – a superstar indeed.
As one of the first people to drive this special 350Z developed by engineers at Nissan's Bedfordshire European Technical Centre, Duncan was more than a little nervous of its 380PS power output. But after the drive, once he'd fought his way through the pack of photographers, Duncan said: 'that was absolutely amazing, what a great experience.'
As a Murano driver himself, Duncan was very interested in Nissan's other concept car debut, the turbocarged 340PS Murano GT-C. This ÚK developed special sports 22' alloy wheels, red AP brake callipers, darkened grille and handles, an interior lightened with tan and black leather with a beige headlining plus an original Murano glass gear knob and tray with cool blue LED illumination. It certainly got a great reception from visitors to Nissan's stand … as did the pink Micra C+C. And not just from girls. There was many a bloke wanting his picture taken by the eye-grabbing cabriolet.Source - Nissan