Nissan Z First Drive Review 2023: A Budget Hero

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Nissan Z

We didn’t even think that it would be happening but it’s happening. The 2023 Nissan Z is finally here to replace the 370Z, which was an 11-year production period. After over a decade of hardly any modifications, it’s easy to think Nissan will drop its long-running sports car brand name. While technically it’s seventh-generation Nissan Z car however, the Z without numbers isn’t exactly as brand new as you’d think. In reality, it has the 350Z’s Z34 platform designation as well as that model’s FM-based platform. To remind you how old FM is, it first appeared on the 350Z way back in 2002.

How can a car built on an old platform stand against the combined power that is BMW as well as Toyota with the modern GT Supra which is expected to come with an automatic transmission option, which will match the Nissan Z? The Nissan’s budget-cutting efforts weren’t worth it however, as the Nissan Z is now available in the market of sports cars with a price tag of $39,000 – which is less than the four-cylinder Supra and the twin-turbo V6 is 400 horsepower. (18 horsepower more that the inline six engine from BMW).

A few minutes driving around Las Vegas showed Nissan knew what was going on with the Z.

Nissan Z Exterior: Vintage Inspiration Made Contemporary

It could be a bit old-fashioned, but it’s not obvious from the look of the latest Nissan Z. Its old-fashioned 370Z’s dimensions have never seemed outdated, it simply needed a little nip-tuck and a few modern accessories to look like a model suitable for the next decade. Some have been critical of the grille’s boxy design however, in reality we think it fits in with the overall design. We actually like everything about the design that is inspired by heritage. The half-circle LED headlights take us towards the Japan market-only 240ZG, and the taillamps with LEDs have been influenced of Z32 300ZX. Z32 300ZX. It’s both vintage and modern in one. And we just love it.

We love everything about Nissan, Nissan offers an acceptably colorful color palette for the latest model of its sports vehicle. There are a variety of subtle shades such as Gun Metallic, Black Diamond Metallic, Everest White TriCoat, Brilliant Silver, and Boulder Grey, but we like the fact that there are some more outrageous options like Rosewood Metallic, Passion Red TriCoast, Seiran Blue Metallic and our personal favourite Ikazuchi Yellow.

Performance: Infiniti To The Rescue

Nissan’s reliable VQ37VHR engine is now removed from service, since the new Nissan Z gets the more modern VR30DDTT 3.0-liter twin turbocharged V6 which is also found in the underside in the Infiniti Q50 Sedan and Q60 Coupe. The Nissan Z has the most powerful tune for this engine, producing 350 lb-ft and 400 hp torque, which are substantial improvements when compared to the 370Z. This engine is able to bring the Nissan Z to the cutting-edge performance world, with an 0-60 time within the lower four-second range (you will be faster when you use an automatic).

The power flows through the wheels at rear via either a manual six-speed transmission that rev-matches as well as a no-cost nine-speed automatic which was first introduced inside the Titan pickup truck. In spite of its humble beginnings it’s an enormous upgrade over the 7-speed box. We wouldn’t be hesitant to recommend the auto because it doesn’t impede the enjoyment. Toyota’s BMW-based ZF box is more efficient as well as more responsive however we’d prefer not to bother Nissan excessively for an excellently-designed auto.

Driving Impressions: A Sporty GT

In the initial drive-in event at the first drive event in Las Vegas, Nissan brought out a 370Z so that we could test how the latest Nissan Z feels in comparison to the previous. The lighter steering rack is more comfortable but it doesn’t sacrifice any accuracy. It’s the same for both the transmissions. We don’t have to fumble at the switch to put it in gear, like in the old manual transmission in the 370Z. In the automatic model, shifts felt more crisp and better-timed than the seven-speed unit of the 370Z.

There’s also that engine. The addition of two turbochargers makes an enormous difference, and creates a totally different experience for driving. In contrast to the 370Z, this new model doesn’t need users to boost it up to redline in order to squeeze every bit of power from it. Instead, you can rev at a moderate rpm, and blast the tires with an engine that is turbocharged to produce torque. The VR30 was pretty decent when it was running the Q50 or Q60 models, however, it really sings in the Q60. We’d even go as far to say that the engine produces more pleasing sounds than the GT-R’s twin-turbo sixmotor, which is also a VR-family motor for instance.

On The Track: Room For Nismo

The Nissan Z as more like a sportsy GT car rather than an all-track-bred monster. This description is accurate when we drove our Z through on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, getting close to our lead-follow instructor with no difficulty. There is plenty of power on the track, and we last raced in the Shelby GT500, but other aspects of the experience, like suspension feel more comfortable on the streets. The Nissan Z is able to handle full tilt, however we believe the suspension is soft enough for regular use on the track. This is the area where Nismo could be able to help with stiffer springs as well as tougher Recaro seats (we nearly fell out of the seats that came with it).

Nissan has only offered two driving mode (Normal and Sports) for the automatic trim. So, there’s not much you need to configure before you can take it for a spin. The automatic model comes with a launch control that is easy to use, aiding you in getting off the line easily. The Performance grades that are manual-equipped come with modern Launch assist system which allows you to select the launch rpm. Although we had a bit more fun with the manual mode, the auto did not feel like an obstruction in the race.

Interior: Familiar But Improved

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting inside the 370Z (or even the 350Z) you’ll see a number of features that are carried over from the old vehicle. The controls for the climate and seat were adapted from the old model. Those unique door-mounted air vents? They’ve been around from the time of the 350Z. In spite of the obvious savings, Nissan put the money where it was needed and that was the information technology. The new touchscreen is 8 inches in as standard, with a 9-inch model that is available on the more expensive. The small tweak makes the world of difference when you consider that the 370Z was equipped with the same radio and navigation head unit from 2009 throughout its lifetime.

An instrument cluster with a digital interface with a stunning Sport design as well as dashboard-mounted gauges blend contemporary and retro style to create a look that is in line with the exterior. Yes the Supra has a more luxurious interior however, it costs more. Also, while Toyota has a mostly dark interior Nissan provides fun alternatives like black/red or blue and black/yellow and blue/red combinations. The Nissan Z is a practical car too with the same size hatchback space behind rear seats as the previous 370Z.

Read More: Ford Bronco Review, Pricing, and Specs 2022

Verdict: A Budget Hero

It’s not possible to say that 2023’s Nissan Z is the best new sports car in the market. But, with its low price at the beginning and its 400 horsepower powertrain, we can consider it to be one of the top bargains in the segment of sports cars. The Supra is more powerful and comes with a more luxurious interiors, but it’s priced around $12,000 higher than the Z’s base version to get it’s 3.0 inline-six. It’s the exact opposite about the Chevrolet Corvette, which is priced at a whopping $22,000 higher than Nissan Z. While, less expensive sports cars such as those of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Toyota GR 86 along with the Subaru BRZ don’t even come even close to the Nissan Z’s performance.

It could be an overstatement to claim that it’s a lie to say that the Nissan Z can be described as “great for the price” We appreciate Nissan for studying markets, becoming savvy in its choices and creating a vehicle that sits in between basic sports cars and more expensive luxury options. If you’re in the $40,000-$50,000 range and want to upgrade, this new Nissan Z is a fantastic choice.

A word of caution in that the base model isn’t equipped with all the fantastic capabilities for handling you need to get 400 horsepower.

Pricing, Trims, & Competitors: Watch Out

The pricing on Nissan Z Sport trims. Z Sport trim starts at $39,000, which includes a cost for the destination. Both manual and automatic cost the same amount which is a nice addition. It’s also less expensive than the more ineffective four-cylinder Supra. The upgrade to Z Performance is a hefty increase at $49,990. However, it includes 19-inch wheels with more tires, a limit-slip differential, a larger 9-inch display, Bose audio system, heated leather seats and much more. The Performance is packed with amazing features to not consider to skip it.

To add a unique touch for a special touch, the special edition Nissan Z Proto model costs $52,990 However, Nissan will only build the model in 240 pieces. We love the Proto’s yellow brake calipers, 19-inch bronze RAYS aluminum alloy wheels and the special black/yellow interior however we don’t believe it’s worth crossing the $50,000 threshold.

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