It has been a long time since we have seen an all-new Z car. When Nissan last updated the moniker, it was the 370Z that first appeared on the scene all the way back in 2009 (2008 in Japan.) The 370 promised more power and even more usability. However, just like how a box of Hostess Twinkies does not stay good forever (despite local legend) Nissan left the 370Z on the shelf too long without any significant updates. That large lapse in time caused the car to fall behind its rivals and slumping sales reflected this sorry state of affairs. Nissan is out to reverse things though and has unleashed the 2023 Z which is indeed worth the wait.
Red Paint Makes This Z A Star
To find out just how well the Z does in delivering fun for the dollar, the company invited us to their state-of-the-art technical center in Farmington Hills, Michigan to not only see the Z but also embark on a mini road trip with the car. Before we get into how it drives, we might as well talk about the design which is a welcome trip back in time. The Z pitches the old car’s weird quasi-futuristic look for a delightful retro theme that calls back to the first few generations of Z
The front fascia is cleaner and simpler than before with the low mounted front grille being complimented by the tidy headlights. There’s no excess here and the new face shines when paired with certain colors including the vibrant red hue that was on our tester. The side profile is highlighted by the puffy rear haunches and it also embraces the classic long hood short rear deck theme that has come to define many sports car entires. The rear now incorporates a shiny black panel and the taillights are also another callback to past Z models. The end result is an improvement over the old model though it also causes the Z to not have as much visual pop as the Toyota Supra which looks like a concept car that rolled off the design pad and into real life.
Reworked Interior Blends Old And New Z Traits Into One Distinct Package
Slip inside the 2023 Z and you’ll see that Nissan designers had to work with some of the 370Z’s old clothes when updating the cabin for a new generation of buyers. The old car’s hard points carried over to the new Z and as a result, the Z retains some of its quirks including the odd seat controls, door-mounted vents, and some bits of hard plastic. That said, there are plenty of improvements here that finally justify the car’s $40,000 plus price tag. The digital instrument cluster is a welcome addition and its crisp graphics were visually appealing while also delivering the information that matters most including a tachometer that’s front and center. Thankfully, the dash-mounted gauge pods are still present and continue to do their job delivering boost pressure, turbo speed, as well as heat readings.
The red-hued fabric infused seats in our car delivered a balanced blend of comfort and support and the infotainment system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The software itself is updated but the angled screen did cause it to be occasionally affected by sun glare and some of the cramped menu icons forced us to use the steering wheel-mounted controls to get around. Cargo space in the Z is roughly what you would expect in a sports car, but it’s still big enough for groceries or even some light suitcases for a weekend trip out of suburbia. The steering wheel also boasts telescoping capability with Nissan claiming that a wider height range can drive the car. This author measures in at 6ft even and we managed to find a comfortable driving position with reps claiming that folks up to 6’3 can find a cozy medium too in this regard.
All New Z Is A Sharper Corner Carving Instrument
While the interior has improved in the way it provides comfort and technology, the Z is a performance car first and ultimately that’s the key category that many buyers will buy the Z for. To find out how well it did in this regard, we were told to travel to our stomping grounds in Hell, Michigan where the winding roads would be a good test of the Z’s composure. While slow traffic did force us to do a portion of our loop twice, we came away impressed with the Z
Power comes from an all-new 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 (aka the elaborately named VR30DDTT) which makes 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. These figures are also found in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport models but the engine here benefits from some model exclusive updates and revisions. They include a new turbo speed sensor and a new turbo recirculation valve with the latter designed to reduce lag and keep the boost right in the sweet spot as often as possible.
A six-speed manual is standard, but we chose to instead evaluate the optional nine-speed automatic which will make up the bulk of Z sales for key demographics. The unit is the same nine-speed that’s seen in other Nissan models like the Pathfinder, but tweaks made to the transmission do allow it to be a commendable choice for potential buyers. As we made our way through Hell’s fabric of roads, we immediately noticed that the engine was more responsive than before (especially in sport mode) and that the power was virtually on demand with only a light application of the throttle being enough to make our tester surge forward with confidence most of the time. There’s also a simple to use launch mode in the Z that makes sprints to 60 mph even more enjoyable.
There were occasions where the transmission suffered from bouts of gear hunting but overall shifts were smooth and accurate. The chassis controversially carries over from the old 370, but Nissan made its fair share of revisions to try and inject some youth into it. There are added materials and small enhancements throughout while the front suspension has more positive caster and the rear has been treated with tweaks too. All-new monotube dampers replace the old twin-tube ones with Nissan claiming that this allowed the car to have a cushier ride when it’s not being asked to dance around corners. Add that in with the wider tires and this Z can finally handle with the best of them and the rear will even poke out on occasion with minimal effort (versus the old car requiring some high engine revs to achieve the same feat.) In short, the 2023 Z is a personality-filled machine and its renewed engine and handling performance capabilities will make a believer out of even the most doubtful of skeptics.
Pricing for the 2023 Nissan Z has evolved over the years, but buyers will be getting alot of car for the money with a base Sport trim starting at $39,990. Performance grade models like our tester have an asking price of $49,990 while the launch year only Proto variants start at $52,990. Those figures don’t include the $1,025 destination charge and fees but it does confirm that value will continue to be a prominent part of the Z ownership experience.
Nissan will also be offering a wide range of accessories and options, but the company is not quite ready to reveal that information just yet. In the meantime, the Z is rapidly shaping up to be a big player in the sport coupe segment once again. Not only are buyers getting plenty of cars for the proverbial dollar, but Nissan is also going all-in in its attempts to revive a segment rivalry that once had plenty of sizzle and big dollar investment in the 1990s when the Supra, 300ZX, and others ignited a golden age of JDM performance offerings.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.