The return of the Z, Nissan’s iconic sports car

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The 2023 Z has styling cues from older models.

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The original 240Z was introduced by what was then Datsun in 1969. It stunned the world, as complacent global automakers didn’t expect such a cool vehicle to come out of Japan. Nissan’s previous sports car was the little Roadster (also known as “Fairlady”) released around 1966. It was cute and a more reliable variant of the British roadster (as the Mazda Miata would later be), but certainly not revolutionary.

The long-hood, short-deck 240Z was the keeper, and modernized through six generations, each with more power and functionality. The 370Z, with up to 350 horsepower, dates from 2009. But now the seventh generation Z (its full name) is upon us, debuted as a 2023 model in Brooklyn last month. Enthusiasts were relieved to learn that a close-speed six-speed manual transmission is standard (although a nine-speed automatic is the alternative). It will go on sale in spring 2022.

The new rear-wheel-drive car is powered by a three-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, and owes the 370Z a styling debt. But there are also older cues, such as the taillights borrowed from the 300ZX and the 240Z echo grille. “In the end, we created a Z that travels decades while being completely modern,” says Alfonso Albaisa, global design manager at Nissan.

The seats are black woven fabric with synthetic suede in Sport mode and upgraded in Performance and Proto Spec models.

Nissan Pictures

The Z was presented as a coupe, with the Sport and Performance categories (both using the twin-turbo V6). The 370Z was offered as a Roadster, and that might be the case later with this one too. An optimized NISMO version is also likely, but maybe not until 2023.

The Performance Z adds a Bose audio system with eight speakers, upgraded seats, larger red painted brakes with four front pistons, lightweight 19-inch aluminum wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires, paddle shifters unique (borrowed from the GT-R) and launch control.

There is the Proto Spec edition, limited to just 240 units. Cars are enhanced with yellow brake calipers visible behind bronze-colored alloy rims, a unique manual shift knob, special leather seats with yellow accents, and fabric door trim with yellow stitching.

The Z automatic have two driving modes, Standard and Sport, the former being the best for commuting and big sightseeing. The Sport features faster throttle control, a more precise steering algorithm, and performance-oriented vehicle dynamic control tuning. “Active sound enhancement” means the motor note sounds more aggressive through the Bose system.

These are analog gauges, complementing the digital dashboard.

Nissan Pictures

Inside, the driver looks at a 12.3-inch screen with three modes; click on “Sport” and the tachometer is brought to the fore, and a boost gauge is activated. The instrumentation isn’t entirely digital, however. Above the eight-inch touchscreen center console is a row of three analog gauges (for boost, turbo speed, and volts).

No official pricing has been announced, but company spokesperson Dan Passe tweeted that the base Sport with manual transmission will start around US $ 40,000. This makes it cheaper than the competing Toyota Supra, but more expensive than the base 370Z.

Introducing the Z in Brooklyn, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta described the 2023 Z, which looks a lot like the Proto Z introduced in 2020, as “an accessible sports car that plays at the intersection of aspiration and accessibility. How often can you describe a car with just one letter? Z is the purest expression of thrills.

These taillights echo the 300ZX.

Nissan Pictures

The 370Z had a long lifespan and sales in the United States were steadily declining in recent years: 4,614 (2017), 3,469 (2018), 2,384 (2019) and 1,955 (2020). That’s down from 13,117 in 2009. The two-seater market is never big, and it’s even smaller in this era of SUV domination.

But like the Miata, the Z is a very proud heritage car. Market Z is very specific: The average car buyer is single with no children and in his 40s, Nissan spokesman Steve Oldham said.

Sooner or later the Z will likely be an electric car. The biturbo V6 is a neat format, but like all internal combustion engines, it’s one with a target on its back.


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