|When Nissan launched its £24,000, 3.5"litre V6, two-seater sports coupe, the 350Z, Audi chiefs must have spat their designer espressos across their chrome- and leather-clad boardrooms. Suddenly, their all-conquering fashion victim steed, the TT, looked old and over-priced (at £27,500) and was also out-classed, in all areas. The 350Z had a better engine (3.5 V6 versus 1.8-litre four-pot turbo), was faster (0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, 155mph limited V-max), boasted better handling (thanks to alloy multi-link suspension and rear-drivel front-engine layout) and, arguably, was better looking, to boot.
No wonder, then, that, even today (some 18 months after its UK launch), trying to find and buy a decent 350Z is a serious mission. Demand has far outstripped supply, meaning you're doing amazingly well to find one - even with high miles and in poor condition - for less than £20K,such is its popularity, and deservedly so.
However, what Nissan probably didn't know was that it could have had other big-name flagship cars quaking in their Iow-profile rubber boots. But only if they'd spotted the 350Z's untapped potential.
Australian tuning specialists, APS (APS Engineering), realized that there was a whole lot more to come from the 350Z. Not convinced that 280bhp, 5.9 seconds to 62mph and 155mph was enough, APS engineers have designed a kit to take the 350Z out of the toddler group to play football with kids from the big school. But how do they achieve this? Two turbos, of course - what else? Official APS UK distributor, G-Force Motorsport, wasn't slow in seeing the potential for the UK market.
It must be said that Nissan's 350Z is extremely good in all areas, straight out of the box. With 18in Rays rims, a delightful V6 engine coupled to a six-speed close-ratio 'box, rear-wheel drive, a great interior and neat styling package, there's little left for the modification men to get their teeth into. Especially as we all know that tuning an already well-developed normally aspirated engine is hard work, expensive - and usually for minimal gains when compared with forced-aspiration cars.
So, the decision to develop a bolt-on twin-turbo kit is pure inspiration, especially as the resulting 400-plus bhp rivals the power levels of a 911 Turbo or a heavily-modified Evo or Scooby. No normally-aspirated 350Z could achieve this. And, importantly, the kit itself is so simple. It's designed to bolt straight onto the VQ35DE Nissan V6 engine, with no modifications to the engine internals, no compression ratio changes - not even a different clutch, such is the engineering brilliance of both the original car and the kit.
The only engine change, aside from induction, exhaust and fuelling alterations, is an enlarged APS sump (and uprated oil pump), giving a six-litre capacity of synthetic black gold. This provides the necessary extra fluid required to cope with additional lubrication of the two turbo units.
The rest of the kit, which is best fitted as an engine-out job (although it can be done on the car, you're left with less skin on your knuckles when it's finished), is all bolt-on.
The turbos themselves are simple, relatively small (and, therefore, responsive) Garrett units, bolted onto the side of each bank of cylinders, using mounting brackets and all associated pipework provided in the APS kit. It's almost impossible to see the units from above, with just the actuator and the edges of the compressor wheels visible through tight gaps with the bonnet up.
There's very little extra room in this engine bay, so it's really only the blow-off valve and hard pipe to the front-mount intercooler you can observe. Only with the car on a ramp can you catch sight of the small turbines buried away, while the extent of the fabulously engineered exhaust and induction modifications is also revealed.