Nissan doesn’t need to develop a two-seat, internal-combustion sports car in the future when EVs and SUVs rule the road. In 2020, even though it was a terrible year for vehicle sales, the carmaker only sold approximately 2,000 370Zs, or about one-hundredth of Rogue sales. Even the renowned Toyota Supra sells just about 6,000 units each year, indicating that there’s not a lot of money to make on fast coupes.
And yet, here we are, driving the Nissan Z 2023. I could bore you with personal tales or historical table settings, but let’s get right to it. This two-seater is a knockout.
With the weight of a 53-year-old namesake, Nissan’s sporty new coupe strikes the perfect blend of historic charm and modern performance, and while it’s still built on the platform of the defunct 370Z, the 2023 Z is vastly improved over its predecessor. It’s a joy. The fact that Nissan created a new Z-car at all. It’s worth celebrating that it’s pretty nice.
2023 Nissan Z Revamped Engine
The 2023 Nissan Z, like the Ford Mustang, has nodded to previous Z models. One is buried behind the skin. The 2023 Z is built on the same platform as the current 370Z. Don’t take the phrase out of context or misinterpret the sentiment.
For starters, Nissan changed or replaced over 80% of the 370Z’s components for the 2023 Z. Second, the Z is more rigid than the 370Z, with bigger front tires, firmer springs, sway bars, and shocks. Furthermore, the wonders are monotube rather than twin-tube designs.
And, unlike the 370Z, the Nissan Z Performance sports a mechanical limited-slip differential rather than a vicious one. As a result, it is more consistent and communicative and less susceptible to differential fluid choice.
Some may be disappointed by the loss of the 370Z’s naturally aspirated VQ V6 engine. The twin-turbo V6 in the 2023 Nissan Z, on the other hand, produces greater power and torque. Furthermore, while a new optional nine-speed automatic is available, the six-speed manual remains with specific internal changes. In addition, the V6 boasts a Ferrari-style turbine speed sensor and an interior gauge to match.
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2023 Nissan Z has Incredible Interiors
The inside, like the outside, is virtual as vintage. Yes, the 2023 Nissan Z includes a 12.3″ digital gauge cluster and an 8.0″ touchscreen, including navigation, while Performance variants receive a 9.0″ touchscreen. The remainder of the cabin, on the other hand, is stunning in its deliberate simplicity and analog nature.
For example, the HVAC controls are dials that feel good to manipulate. The turbine speed gauge is one of three physical gauges that stay permanently attached to the dashboard. Furthermore, the interior of the Z is far more open and spacious than that of the Supra.
This retro vibe makes the 370Z desirable, despite or perhaps because of its age. It’s also not terrible that the 2023 Z has these vibes. We can also order a primary Z Sport without any ADAS features. That may seem like a deal-breaker to some, but it’s also a big part of what makes this sports vehicle so appealing. And it just gets better once you are on the road.
2023 Nissan Z Performance: Better Than Ford Mustang GT
To be honest, it was pouring as I drove the 2023 Nissan Z Performance through the twisting forest-hill roads of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In addition, I discovered later that the manual automobile I was driving had minimal rear tread remaining. At that point, I connected the dots about the rear-end squirminess I saw during vigorous 1-2 shifts. To Z’s credit, the squirminess felt enjoyable rather than alarming.
Surprisingly, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 I drove at Road America last year didn’t have a squeaky back end. It did, however, include the optional Handling Package, which included chassis changes, lighter wheels, more aero elements, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. As previously established, the latter is more grippy than the Z Performance’s Bridgestone tires. Keep in mind that I was driving Mach 1 at track speeds.
However, while Mach 1 is the quicker track vehicle and reaches 60 mph faster, it also has more chassis bracing than the Z, as well as MagneRide shocks and Brembo brakes. Even with all of these enhancements, the Mach 1 couldn’t conceal the fact that it was built on a Ford Mustang GT. It’s capable but also a little too heavy and numb in responsiveness, and steering feels completely enjoyable. Oh, and it’s nearly $10,000 more expensive than the Z Performance.
It Has A Retro Look
The 370Z had a more defined appearance than the 350Z it replaced, but the 2023 Z takes it further. The traditional sports car proportions of a long hood and a short deck remain. The new Z has a more buttoned-up appearance thanks to strong character lines, particularly on the hood and rear haunches. The first-generation Z inspires the side view, while the 300ZX inspires the taillights. The gaping mouth may turn some off at the front, yet it serves a function.
The Z’s cabin has a new layout and considerably more delicate materials. Including a telescopic steering wheel should improve interior comfort for drivers of all sizes. A pair of analog gauges atop the dash and a steering wheel with a small-diameter center are also an homage to the Z’s history. Some 370Z carryovers, like the door handles and climate controls, will be evident to keen viewers, which is OK in an otherwise pleasant interior.
Thankfully, Nissan did not keep the Z’s tech menu antiquated. The infotainment system is now controlled by an 8- or 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth. In addition to the larger screen, there is inbuilt navigation, an eight-speaker Bose music system, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. With two USBs and two 12-volt connections in the cabin, dead phones should be a thing of the past. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that we can customize.
Every Z comes with frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert as standard. This is a significant improvement over the previous 370Z, which had no contemporary safety technology.
Nissan wants the 2023 Z to be a street dance partner. I declare the mission complete. In addition to the steering, the chassis and suspension reduce body roll, but not to the point where weight transfer is imperceptible. In terms of rest, it’s remarkably soft for a sports vehicle. Furthermore, while not as satisfyingly hefty as Mach 1’s cue-ball shifter, the Z’s manual shifter seems like an adulterated version of the Miata’s shifter in the most remarkable manner.
People frequently purchase Ford Mustangs for the feelings of performance rather than the performance itself. And there’s nothing wrong with buying a Mustang because you want to feel like you’re driving a classic sports vehicle. But why pretend to drive a vintage sports vehicle when you can acquire the actual thing?
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