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Nissan will be showing off in many ways at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (7-9 July) from a race winning 350Z never seen before in Europe to a couple of new, speed themed concept cars making their international debuts. The company will also be making a bid for the title of fastest vehicle at the Festival … with a Nissan Primera.

Not one but two concepts are having their first ever showing at Goodwood this year. If the press and public approve, they could be available in the not so distant future.

Taking star position on Nissan’s stand is the Murano GT-C, standing for GT Concept. Nissan GB has taken its shapely crossover 4×4 and made it even more dramatic inside and out. Exterior brightwork has been given a new darker hue and all lights have been tinted to coordinate with the Kuro Black paintwork. The Murano’s standard 18″ alloy wheels have been changed for a new 22″, five-spoke design. And a raised roof spoiler finishes the purposeful look. Just as striking is the GT-C’s interior which has been retrimmed using British craftsmanship and a classic colour palette but with a modern slant.

The GT-C’s drivetrain modifications are equally exciting. Under the close supervision of Nissan’s Bedfordshire based European Technical Centre, the Murano’s 234PS 3.5-litre V6 engine with seamless CVT transmission has been turbocharged to literally boost power to around 350PS. The suspension has also been modified to give the Murano a tauter feel while retaining Nissan’s electronic ALL-MODE 4×4 system. Road testing will begin after the GT-C’s next public appearance at the London Motor Show. But expect continents to shrink under its power, whatever the weather.

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.

Sticking with the 350Z, Sony Play Station GT4 gamesters will be fully aware of the 2004 Xanavi sponsored Japanese Super GT race series version which was won by a Nismo tuned Z. Now, for the first time in Europe, they will be able to see the car in action as it is being transported directly from Japan especially for Goodwood. The 2004 championship winning GT500 350Z will be piloted by champion race driver Richard Lyons – also transported from Japan. Look out for him and the car performing in the International Racing Sports Cars 1980-2006 category.

The 1999 BTCC winning Primera was the surprise second fastest car on the circuit in 2005, a remarkable achievement considering the type of machinery it was up against and the fact that the Nissan arrived at Goodwood expecting a reasonable run but more for show than go. This year however Derek Palmer (owner of the car and Pro Motorsport) and driver Anthony Reid are coming prepared.

Back on Nissan’s stand, lined up alongside the Murano GT-C will be 350Zs (coupe and roadster), the Micra 160SR and, controversially, a pink Micra C+C. It may not have been to Richard Hammond’s liking but the first 100 built sold out in a few weeks. And Nissan may be making some more.

A new attraction in 2005 and repeated this year is an off-road circuit which will be hosted by Nissan. The Navara, Patrol, Pathfinder and X-TRAIL will all be expecting some rough treatment. Visitors will not only be able to see Nissan’s 4×4 range but they will also be able to drive them … in the wild. This is one area of Goodwood where rain will certainly help play.

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Zerin Dube

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