The Nissan 350Z is one of the most popular Japanese performance cars of the past 20 years.
People love the 350Z (also known as the Fairlady Z in some markets) for its attractive styling, strong performance and “back to basics” nature, being a naturally-aspirated, rear-wheel drive sports car.
The Infiniti G35 (also sold as a Nissan Skyline 350GT in some markets such as the Japanese Domestic Market) is a car that is closely related and also rather popular.
In fact, if you’ve been looking at a Nissan 350Z, then people might have also recommended that you check out the G35 (or vice versa).
In this edition of Car Facts we are looking at the Nissan 350Z vs the Infiniti G35 to see which one is right for you.
Ultimately, car purchasing decisions and questions of what is better out of two (or more) cars is very subjective. Different people value different things in their cars. In this article we simply seek to set out what we think are the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Infiniti G35 versus the Nissan 350Z, to help you buy the right car.
We are looking at four key areas to help inform this:
- Styling – Which car looks better?
- Performance – Which one is faster and better at handling etc?
- Practicality – Which car is better for “daily drivability”?
- Running costs – Which car will cost you more to keep on the road?
In coupe form, the cars clearly share some styling elements, due to both being based off the Nissan FM platform which was also used for some other interesting cars like the Fuga and Stagea.
However, we do think that the 350Z is the better looking of the two cars – although this is very much a matter of personal preference.
In particular, we think that the 350Z looks superior from the side angle and also from the rear.
The 350Z is certainly more “purposeful” in its design and stands out more, whereas the G35 is a bit more understated.
If you prefer a car that blends in more, then the G35 might be the better option from the styling perspective. The coupe is good looking, but not as aggressive in terms of design as the 350Z. It is more “grown up” in some respects.
Also remember that the G35 was available as a sedan. It is somewhat anonymous looking and perhaps not the most attractively designed sedan ever (it is certainly no Alfa Romeo 159, for example) but it isn’t bad looking either.
When it comes to performance, there are some definite similarities.
Both cars use Nissan’s legendary 3.5 litre V6 – the VQ35DE, which has also featured in other cars like the later Stagea and the Fuga. Both were available with identical transmission options; a five speed automatic or six speed manual.
While both cars aren’t exactly lightweight, the 350Z is not quite as heavy as the G35, which benefits its acceleration and handling.
The 350Z suspension setup is also superior for handling (at least when it comes to driving on a track or road with the intent to go as quickly as possible). The downside is that the suspension setup is less comfortable.
Basically, the 350Z is the winner in the performance department, especially if you get your hands on a six-speed manual track variant (read our 350Z buyer’s guide for more information on the various trim and equipment levels that were available).
While both are definitely close in terms of performance, if you care more than anything about getting the fastest car for your money out of these two, then you need to pick the 350Z. It’s as simple as that.
If you are looking closely at buying a G35, then pay attention to the model year and exact engine to find out what output your potential purchase has, as earlier models were less powerful than later ones. For example, the very first G35s in 2003/04 came with around 260hp from the factory. This rose to as much as 298hp in manual sedans by 2005/2006 model years.
The automatic G35 engines are also slightly different in that they only had variable valve timing on the intake camshaft (and not the exhaust camshaft).
One other thing to bear in mind is that towards the end of the production of the G35 and 350Z, you could get examples with the more powerful VQ35HR engine, with 306hp.
This was available in the late-spec (2007) 350Z and G35 sedan. The G35 coupe was never available with the VQ35HR, which is definitely considered to be the more desirable and superior engine choice. The earlier DE engine in the coupe is still great, but if you want the most powerful option you will need to go for a later model 350Z or G35 sedan.
There was also an AWD version of the G35 sedan available, which sacrifices a small amount of performance for superior daily drivability if you live somewhere prone to snow or ice.
One other point to consider if you are looking to buy a Japanese Domestic Market example of the 350Z (or the Nissan Skyline sedan/coupe, which is the JDM equivalent to the Infiniti) is that you might see different power figures reported due to Japan’s “gentleman’s agreement” regarding horsepower, especially if you are researching earlier models. While many JDM cars had much more than 276hp from the 1990s (e.g. the Nissan Skyline GTR R34) it wasn’t until 2004’s Honda Legend that any Japanese manufacturer officially exceeded the self-imposed/reported 276hp limit.
The Infiniti G35 is the clear winner here for a simple reason – it has back seats, in both coupe and sedan form.
The 350Z is a two seater only. If you need to regularly transport more than one other passenger, then the 350Z is not going to be the car for you (unless it is a weekend car or secondary vehicle).
It is an impractical car, unless you are the kind of person who doesn’t like to carry passengers or possessions in their vehicle.
If you are looking to buy a daily driver and have it as your only car, then the G35 is definitely the better choice.
Do bear in mind that the G35 Coupe s a “2+2” car, so the rear seats in it aren’t exactly the most comfortable, especially for longer journeys.
The G35 Sedan has three proper back seats, and reasonable leg room so if you regularly transport friends and family, then this is the best option by far in terms of practicality.
Another area to consider with regards to practicality is trunk/boot space. Once again, the G35 easily wins here. If you need to transport items in the trunk of a car on a regular basis, then you’ll be far better off with the G35 in either coupe or sedan.
One other area where the G35 shines in terms of practicality (versus the 350Z) is that it is definitely set up more for comfort.
While the 350Z is not the most uncomfortable sports car in the world, it certainly isn’t set up as well for comfort as the G35 is, which is more of a “GT” car. If you do a lot of highway miles or around town driving, then you will probably come to appreciate the superior comfort of the G35, although this does mean sacrificing some performance/handling capability. .
Considering that both cars share the same underlying running gear (with the exception of the AWD G35) you might expect that running costs are similar for the 350Z and the G35.
This is basically true. However, let’s break this down further and look at a few crucial areas, namely gas mileage, maintenance costs and insurance.
350Z vs G35 Fuel Economy/Gas Mileage
Both cars have relatively poor fuel economy/gas mileage, due to being heavy cars with big engines. You can realistically expect around 20mpg in mixed-use driving (city and highway) provided you drive sensibly. If you start to thrash the car, then expect that economy figure to worsen substantially.
You can see from Fuelly (which records “real world” user submitted gas mileage data) that the G35 appears to be marginally worse. This makes sense as it is a slightly heavier car, and also real world users would be more likely to transport passengers as well.
If you are after an economy car, then neither is a particularly sensible choice!
350Z vs G35 Maintenance Costs
There isn’t too much in it reliability-wise and also in terms of maintenance costs, due to the large number of shared parts.
If you’ve read our 350Z buyer’s guide, then you’ll know that the running gear in these cars is generally fairly robust. Maintenance is also relatively simple, and there is a wealth of good information online about DIYing repairs and maintenance on both the 350z and the G35.
However, one thing to bear in mind is that the G35 is less of a “boy racer’s” car, so it might be easier to find examples that have been maintained better and thrashed less, which should in turn reduce ongoing maintenance and repair costs.
If you aren’t particularly mechanically-minded, then it would certainly pay to get a robust independent inspection on any potential purchase before handing over the cash.
One thing to consider here is that it might cost you more to insure a 350Z than a G35. Although they are about as close as two cars can get in terms of performance, the 350Z has a bad reputation as being one of the most dangerous cars on American roads (read our article here on whether or not the 350Z is a dangerous car for more in-depth information).
While the G35 is capable of similar turns of speed and potential oversteer if driven beyond one’s skill level, it doesn’t seem to have quite the same bad reputation as the 350Z has with insurers.
While we don’t recommend the 350Z as a good first car for younger drivers (and because the 350Z and G35 are basically the same thing from an underlying performance perspective, we can’t in good conscience recommend the G35 either for inexperienced drivers) if you have your heart set on these two cars, the G35 will probably be a better option from an insurance perspective, especially if you are younger.
Conclusion – Nissan 350Z vs Infiniti G35, Which Should You Buy?
Ultimately, both are good cars and we reckon you would be happy with either.
If we could only have one car in our garage and had to pick out of the two, then the G35 would be the winner. In fact, if you don’t mind the sedan’s styling, then a G35 sedan is an excellent “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and would be a sufficiently practical proposition for most people to live with as a daily driver. If you can find a late model G35 sedan with the stronger VQ35HR engine – and ideally with the manual gearbox option and in a high trim level – then you are getting your hands on a truly excellent package that will manage to be fast, practical and affordable all in one.
If you have to have a coupe but you need passable practicality, then the G35 coupe is your next best bet.
However, if you can live with the lack of practicality and reduced comfort (e.g. you are buying a second, fun car that you might take out for track use or back road blasts) then the 350Z is unequivocally the one to go for.
It looks better, it has superior performance, and it is far more likely to be considered a bona fide classic in the near future. It is one of Nissan’s “greatest hits” and is as good of a car as the day it first rolled off the production line.
What matters more than anything is that you buy the best possible example you can within your budget.
However, if you value the true sports car experience then the 350Z must be your first choice, because it is definitely set up to be a more performance-focused car.
If you want more practicality, then the G35 is the better buy.
Basically, your decision should just come down to whether or not you need the extra practicality of the G35 over the 350Z. Although the back seats in the G35 aren’t amazing, they are still there (whereas the 350Z only has two seats) and the overall focus of the car is more of a compromise.
If you like both of them, then this puts you in the best possible position as you can afford to be more discerning. For example, it might be easier to find a better G35 than a 350Z in your local area.
One other thing to remember – the G35 was also available in some markets as the Nissan Skyline (350GT – sedan or coupe). In New Zealand, for example, you can find many examples of 350GT Skylines for sale in both sedan and coupe form. These are almost always JDM cars that have been imported from Japan on the used market. These may have some slight differences again.
If you are thinking of buying a 350Z, then make sure you read our comprehensive Nissan 350Z buyer’s guide and history. This article will talk you step-by-step through how to source and secure a great example of the 350Z.
Unfortunately we don’t have a G35 buyer’s guide yet, but it’s still worth looking at our 350Z guide as a lot of the same advice applies.
We would love to hear your take on the 350Z vs the G35 – which do you prefer and why? Leave us a comment below and get the discussion started.