DETROIT – Nissan showed off its revived Z sports car and unveiled a concept minivan Tuesday during the media preview of the North American International Auto Show.
The new 350Z is a two-door, two-seat hatchback with a curved roof and raised rear. The Z's hatchback shape recalls the original 1969 Datsun 240Z, a sports car that was stylish and affordable in its day.
Nissan first showed off a new version of the Z in 1999, when sales were suffering and the company was looking to spice up its staid image with a standout from the past - just like Volkswagen with its Beetle and Ford with the Thunderbird.
The Z has a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. The base model is priced at $26,269.
Pre-orders for the Z will be taken starting Jan. 15. It is expected to reach showrooms in August.
Nissan also introduced the new Quest minivan, a concept model of a vehicle that is to begin production in May 2003. Nissan called it the Z of minivans and said it hopes it will appeal to women and men.
``People buy minivans because they need space and flexibility, but most people, especially dads, just don't want to drive them,'' said Alfonso Albaisa, a Nissan designer. ``We set out to challenge the notion that a minivan can't be sexy, modern and fun to drive, even for dads.''
The Quest concept discards its old minivan clothing and exchanges it for a sleeker look, featuring wraparound glass, athletic 20-inch wheels and tires pushed out to the corners.
The traditional lift-gate type rear hatch is replaced with a power operated bi-fold tailgate to make it easier to gain access to cargo. A glass roof helps keep the cabin brighter, and fiber optic headlamps replace incandescent bulbs.
The Quest seats six and features a center console shaped like a rugby ball.