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Nissan shows sports car, minivan

Quest features sleeker look, wraparound glass

SHARE Nissan shows sports car, minivan

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 Tuesday. 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 bifold 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.