Image: Nissan Cube
Paul Buck  /  EPA
Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s design director, introduces the 2009 Nissan Cube at the Los Angeles auto show.
updated 11/20/2008 4:59:58 PM ET 2008-11-20T21:59:58

While U.S. automakers scale back their presence at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Nissan Motor Co. was determined to make a splash, unveiling three new vehicles Wednesday.

Nissan debuted its 2009 370Z, the first redesign of the roadster since its reintroduction as a 2003 model. Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager of Nissan North America’s Nissan division, said the vehicle is lighter with a shorter wheelbase than its predecessor. It’s 3.7-liter V-6 engine produces 332 horsepower, 26 more than the last model.

There’s a new seven-speed automatic transmission, and what Nissan says is the world’s first synchronized downshift rev matching system for the six-speed manual gearbox.

The new 370Z is scheduled to go on sale in North America in January with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $29,990.

The No. 3 Japanese automaker also unveiled its 2009 Cube, which goes on sale in the U.S. this spring. The name describes the vehicle’s boxy, low-riding design, which fits the recent wave embraced by Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion vehicles and Honda Motor Co.’s Element.

The five-passenger Cube’s styling features an asymmetrical body, wide doors, a wraparound rear window, and a refrigerator-style rear door. The standard 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with either an Xtronic continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.

Nissan says it expects the CVT model to get more than 30 mpg on the highway. Pricing information wasn’t released.

Nissan also spotlighted its 2009 Versa sedan, which it is touting as the lowest-priced new car in the North American market. The automaker is starting the Versa with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $9,990.

The show opens to the public Friday after two days of media previews.

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