Nissan Motor on Monday launched the redesigned Fairlady Z sports car in Japan.

The model line, originally exported as the 200/240Z (the new version will be called 370Z outside Japan), dates back to 1969 and about 1.7mn units have been sold worldwide to date.

The latest Fairlady Z is offered in eight colours in Japan - all with Nissan's 'Scratch Shield', which self-repairs minor scratch marks in the surface.

Its new 3.7-litre V6 is more powerful than the previous 3.5-litre unit. Nissan claims the 100mm (4 inches) shorter wheelbase gives sharper handling and that fuel-efficiency is improved by using light-weight aluminum door panels, bonnet and hatchback door.

The automaker is also claiming a world first for the Fairlady's new six-speed manual transmission with synchronised rev control. A newly developed seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode is optional.

The interior features a new suede cloth, Forte Suede, which can be attached to three-dimensional panel surfaces, this was not possible with the types of trim cloth used previously. Three trim colours are offered in Japan.

The latest model is the first in the Fairlady Z/370Z line to have Nissan's 'Intelligent Key' system and a push-button engine starter.

A Bose sound system is standard in Japan while an an HDD-based 'Carwings' navigation system is a factory option.

All Japanese market models are certified as U-LEVs, emitting 50% fewer emissions than the levels mandated by the country's 2005 exhaust emission regulations.

Sales target is 500 units a month in Japan. The new model will eventually be available in 120 countries worldwide, with most sold in Japan, the US and Europe.

While admitting the domestic sports car market has been dwindling, Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga told local media the company aims to achieve its annual target of selling about 6,000 units by March and is eyeing a monthly sales target of over 1,000 units in the initial sales period.

Shiga also said Nissan hopes to take a bigger share of over 30% in Japan's sports car market from the current 20%.