The Nissan Z, now Nissan's compact sports car, is reduced to a single letter Z. It has no more numerical prefix to announce its engine capacity. Although it doesn't go back to one of its old names, that doesn't mean the Nissan Z doesn't pay homage to its predecessors in one way or another. Moreover, while the first generation Z in 1969 was inspired by the Jaguar E-Type or another Ferrari 250, the seventh of the name, no longer needs to look elsewhere, it is inspired by the six others which have preceded.
In 2023 Nissan Z comes in three main trim levels: Sport, Performance, and Proto Spec (available for enthusiastic Nissan fans).
The base Sport trim level in 2023 offers just one body color, but Performance and Proto models get a contrasting black roof. Among other distinctions, the Sport has 18-inch wheels, while the others roll on 19-inch. For the Performance they are painted black, while the Proto gets them in bronze color. Finally, the last marked differentiation for the Sport, it has no spoiler on the trunk.
Just as rumors predicted, the seventh-generation Z car is powered by Nissan's twin-turbocharged VR30DDTT 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 400 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque. In the 2023 Z, this engine reaches peak horsepower at 6,400 rpm, peak torque of 1,600 at 5,600 rpm, and revs of 6,800. Small-diameter turbos and an electronic variable valve timing intake system are said to contribute to better response and fuel efficiency.
When it comes to the pricing of the Nissan Z it's hard to say anything specific these days because of changing MSRPs due to supply chain shortages. But anyway, the 2023 Nissan Z Sport is offered at about $41,015 MSRP, The Z Performance MT that we reviewed here, came with $53,210 Total MSRP and I see that the Z Proto Spec is offered at $54,015 MSRP. Dealer markups will, of course, change these prices. However, at least this gives you something to work with.
Transmission options for the new Nissan Z include an optional nine-speed automatic transmission with aluminum paddle shifters or the standard six-speed, close-ratio manual transmission. The latter is accompanied by a high-performance Exedy clutch, a carbon fiber composite driveshaft and, in the top Performance trim, rev matching - a technology first pioneered by this car's predecessor and subsequently adopted by many. other manual performance cars.
So Nissan made countless enthusiasts happy when it announced that its new Z sports car would have a manual transmission. Now that it's here, the Nissan Z is among the last manual transmission-equipped sports cars on sale. And, the vehicle a quieter factory exhaust.
Why does the manual transmission equipped Nissan Z have a quieter exhaust sound than the automatic?
It is due to US regulations. The US has fairly strict regulations on car engine/exhaust noise, with California having the most stringent regulations of any state in the Union. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) developed a test for California noise standards, in which a car must accelerate from 30 mph at full speed past a microphone, under certain parameters, to measure its sound in decibels. Except that the parameters for automatic and manual cars are different.
What does this test consist of?
For a manual car, they test in second or third gear with the throttle wide open. However, a car equipped with an automatic transmission only needs to accelerate using as much throttle as possible without initiating kickdown. That last one is important, since kickdown, according to SAE, is a forced downshift to the lowest gear possible. Which means the manual car will hit full RPM during the test, while the automatic will be programmed to cool down in the highest gear possible, away from full RPM.
To pass the noise test with a manual transmission, Nissan had to install a quieter muffler on the six-speed Z, and the difference is noticeable.
The Z revisits its interior for the better. We enter the modern era with fully digital instrumentation with a 12.3-inch display similar to that found in other Nissan products. Considering the vocation of the Z, Nissan adds a third sportier graphic design in addition to the other two more traditional ones. The steering wheel adopts the same bead as the Nissan GT-R for a better grip. In addition, it incorporates a suite of buttons that allow the management of the instrumentation.
At the top of the dashboard, we have an essential feature of the Z, the presence of 3 dials: the first for the turbo pressure, the second for the turbo speed and the third for the battery supply voltage. This last dial is technically useless. Yet, it makes a reference to the car of the 1970s.
As for the multimedia system, we get an 8-inch screen for all models. It is functional and well placed. The air conditioning controls are lower while remaining simple since they are knobs. I love knobs.
As we are in a sports car, storage is limited as much in the console as in the doors and the trunk, to 241 liters. As for the seats, they offer good lumbar support, but in the case of the seat, it is very curved and also very short. Comfort seems relative to me. The quality of the interior finish is sharply improved, at least for the Performance and Proto trim levels. The Sport model abandons leather for fabric upholstery and more plastic.
Other cool features, that are specific to the 2023 Nissan Z Performance trim level that we review here, include heated side mirrors, universal garage door opener, heated front seats and SynchroRev match, which is manual transmission only. In fact, the Performance trim level also offers unique paddle shifters, which are naturally, Automatic Transmission only.
Sport trim of the 2023 Nissan Z will more than meet the expectations of most drivers. Standard tech includes:
A hands-free Text Messaging Assist.
Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button start.
A customizable digital gauge cluster.
An 8.0-inch center touchscreen with smartphone connectivity.
Another upgraded feature that music fans will appreciate in the Performance trim level of the 2023 Nissan Z is the eight-speaker Bose sound system. Also, an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot enables you to connect to the internet from any location.
On the road, the new NIssan Z shines brightly. The steering offers good precision and allows us to be in communion with the car. In a daily driving context, the power of the mechanics delivers the goods without rushing us, while the automatic does not lend itself to criticism. Suspensions do their job well.
The way the new Nissan Z corners is said to also be improved with a 13% increase in G-force in corners thanks to stiffer bodywork, retuned suspension, retuned steering and thicker front tires . The monotube shock absorbers at all four corners are new, as is the geometry of the aluminum double-wishbone front end. Meanwhile, the rear multi-link setup has also been retuned.
Spec for spec, the Z is probably 50-60 lbs. heavier than the 370 , but it has more power and torque, so it more than makes up for that slight increase in weight. It's quicker in all situations and, more importantly, feels more lively when changing direction and braking.
The V6 engine of the 2023 Nissan Z responds sweetly enough, the turbos rev up relatively early, somewhere below 2,500rpm, and the boost is well-managed: no heavy acceleration, but a muscular boost all the way to the 6,800rpm redline. In fact, that's a good way to describe this car: it's muscular rather than brawny.
The best about driving the Z, is that it's easy, controllable and fun.
I think this is the last Nissan Z before the brand may introduce an electric Z. It has just the right amount of power to keep it fast and it's not so overloaded that you have to rely on heavy power to keep you in the game.
This is a car with playful handling rather than overly harsh, track-biased nonsense. It's the feeling of going back to basics without having a cabin that takes you back to basics, and with excellent value for money.
It also has a useful duality in that it would make a good commuter car or a compact but usable GT. So, besides being a sports car, the 2023 Nissan Z is also a good touring car.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.