9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

We all know the VQ35 from its time in the Nissan 350Z, but the V6 found several different homes in its time
9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

We all know the Nissan VQ35 from its time in the 350Z. Yes, we also know all the memes about how they sound god awful with a £150 straight pipe.

Although it's the Z the VQ35 is best remembered for, the 3.5-litre, naturally-aspirated V6 has seen homes well beyond just the sports car - some are better known, and some may surprise you. We pick out some of its other outings.

Nissan Skyline

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

When the R34 Nissan Skyline left production in 2001, it took a few years until the GT-R had a whole life of its own on a global scale with the R35. In Japan, though, the Skyline name continued immediately after.

Before the GT-R, the Skyline had long been a humble commuter saloon or coupe and that part of its history didn’t (and still hasn’t) changed. For the V35 generation, it dropped the RB engines in favour of using VQ V6s exclusively, becoming the first Skyline without a straight-six. You’d find the VQ35 in the Skyline 350GT, the most powerful of them all,  producing 276bhp.

If you’re looking at that and thinking “That’s not a Nissan Skyline, that’s an Infiniti G35” you would partly correct. The US and parts of Europe had the V35 rebadged.

Nissan Stagea

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

As with the first-gen WC34 Nissan Stagea, the second generation used a reworked version of the Skyline platform. This meant the M35 was also exclusively powered by VQ engines, with the 276bhp 350S its most powerful version.

Though it lacked the mad variety of models of the original Stagea, the Autech Axis 350S exists as the sole manual, VQ-powered estate car. It’s a shame it never found its way out of Japan officially, though we’d be very tempted to look at importing one.

Renault Samsung SM7

Credit: Benespit/Wikicommons
Credit: Benespit/Wikicommons

Now here’s a bit of niche car trivia for you. Samsung once had a crack at making cars under the Samsung Motors brand with Nissan providing technical assistance, before the Nissan-Renault alliance led to the manufacturer becoming Renault Samsung in 2000.

Rather than just rebadging global Renault or Nissan cars, it made a few of its own - albeit using platforms of the other two.

The SM7 arrived in 2004, using the underpinnings of the Altima at the time, and with the choice of a VQ23DE or VQ35DE V6. The latter wasn’t exactly oozing with power though, with 217bhp on tap - not amazing for a rather large four-door saloon with a 3.5-litre V6.

Renault Samsung now exists simply as Renault Korea and largely rebadges other cars rather than making its own now.

Formula Renault 3.5

Credit: Darren/Wikicommons
Credit: Darren/Wikicommons

At the same time Renault Samsung was offering the VQ35 in Korean commuter cars, Renaultsport was building them for formula racing. Talk about versatility.

Built for the Formula Renault 3.5 series, the Dallara T05 and T08 both used race-prepped versions of the 3.5-litre V6, initially producing 425bhp and later rising to 485bhp.

It’s worth noting that at the time, you wouldn’t find flagship Nissan 350Z race cars using the VQ35. In Japan’s SuperGT series, top-class GT500 Fairlady Zs were running twin-turbo VQ30s until 2007 when that was swapped for a 4.5-litre V8.

Renaultsport Megane Trophy

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

As well as formula racing, the VQ35 was finding itself used as a mid-mounted unit for the Renault Megane Trophy series.

Yes, a mid-engined Megane. Albeit, it was not even remotely related to the road car bar using its head- and taillights - rather it was built on a spaceframe chassis. The 3.5-litre V6 would produce 321bhp in this car, used exclusively for a single-make racing series. We’re a little upset Renault never had a crack at making a road-going version.

Renault Vel Satis

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

Europe did get its own share of road-going VQ-powered Renaults, and perhaps it was fitting it found itself a home in the bonkers Renault Vel Satis.

The Vel Satis looked a little bit like a mix of an estate car and MPV yet was designed to be a range-topping executive car to compete with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6.

Reportedly, the car cost Renault around €550 million to develop (keep in mind this was launched in 2001, too, so that would be about €1.4bn today) only to sell about 63,500 of them in an eight-year production run. Worse still, only 1,293 made it to the UK - with a right-hand drive version built especially for our shores.

Mitsubishi Dignity

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

Here’s a car that, we’ll be honest, didn’t know existed until we came to researching this list.

The Mitsubishi Dignity, it turns out, is a huge executive-sized car the Japanese manufacturer offered as its flagship. It built its own from 1999 to 2001, though relied on Nissan for a second generation in 2012 to 2016.

That’s where the VQ comes in as the keen-eyed among you will have spotted this is a rebadged Infiniti Q70 L and powered by the later VQ35HR hybrid complete with a 302bhp output.

Honestly, it’s not even a remotely exciting car, but it’s a little bit of padding to our knowledge of JDM oddities.

Nissan Elgrand

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

One much cooler JDM special is the Nissan Elgrand. This Japanese minivan falls into the category of things we very much wish were offered officially outside of the country, turning the people carrier into a private jet on wheels.

For its second and third generation, you could have the Elgrand with a VQ35DE - albeit paired up to a CVT which naturally hampered its performance. On the plus side, it does at least sound pretty wicked from the inside - especially if you’re sat right in the back and above the exhaust exits.

Alpine A110-50

9 VQ35-Powered Cars That Aren’t A Nissan Z

Before Alpine was launched with the new version of the A110 and then reinvented as an electric performance car brand, Renault had pumped out a few concepts with the branding to hint at its return.

The A110-50 was one of those, arriving in 2012 to celebrate 50 years of the original A110. In truth, it bore very little resemblance to the car - aside from two circular lights placed narrowly on the front. Underneath the skin, the concept was the Megane Trophy we mentioned earlier, meaning it used the same VQ35.

The A110-50 would sort of go into production, becoming the Renault Sport R.S. 01 race car. Instead of the VQ though, that car would use the VR38DETT from the Nissan GT-R. That’s a story for another day…


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