New Nissan Z Series has lots of zip

LOS ANGELES Nissan has just introduced the new 370Z which replaces the popular 350Z. The bigger number means a bigger engine.

Though the car is smaller and lighter overall than its predecessor, with the increased power and trimmer size, the 370Z offers lots of performance for its $30,000 base price.

Nissan likes to point out that the new Z Series follows in the footsteps of the original Datsun Z Series from the 1970s -- heritage combined with modern attributes.

The new 350Z is a traditional sports car in the truest sense. But it also features some new technology as well. If you choose the 6-speed manual transmission, there's an available system that can help anyone shift gears like a pro.

The smoothest way to drive through a turn is to downshift and brake at the same time while keeping the engine at the proper speed. Three things to do with your two feet.

Racing drivers use a technique where the right foot works the gas and brake at the same time -- not an easy thing to master.

With Nissan's Synchro Rev-Match, the car's computer takes care of the throttle for you.

You just push a button and then downshift like normal while braking and clutching. The system knows exactly how much throttle to give the engine for smooth downshifting. Just about any driver can now feel like a pro.

Of course you can avoid all this entirely by choosing the automatic transmission instead, which many people surely will.

Or, if the 370Z is a little too hard-core for your tastes, it has a more luxurious cousin from Infiniti called the G37. It has a similar chassis and even the same engine, but with a higher level of luxury and a small back seat.

But for the purists, the two-seat, high performance "Z" is the hot ticket. And with that high-tech manual transmission anyone can feel like they've mastered some smooth driving moves.



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