Test drive: The Nissan Z 2023 is sports car history

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As the global auto industry moves closer to an electrified future, Japan’s big automakers are fighting the good fight for customers who still want to drive an old-school sports car. And I mean driving.

Toyota relaunched the Supra, Acura the Integra, and both are available with manual transmissions. The Mazda Miata has never deviated from this course.

The shift-it-yourself category also includes the Toyota GR86 and GR Corolla, Subaru WRX and Honda’s Civic Si and Civic Type-R, but the new Nissan Z might be the most retro of them all.

The 2023 Nissan Z is a fully updated version of the 370Z it replaces and is designed to pay homage to the history of the model line, which began with the 1970 240Z.

The design of the Nissan Z is inspired by the 240Z.
(Nissan)

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, of course, but you can order it with an optional nine-speed automatic if you must.

The Nissan Z borrows the shape of its profile from previous Z models.

The Nissan Z borrows the shape of its profile from previous Z models.
(Nissan)

The Z’s long hood/short deck profile, rectangular grille and petal-shaped headlights are all direct callbacks to the 240Z, while its oval taillights are borrowed from the 1990’s 300ZX.

The Z's taillights are similar to those on the 300ZX.

The Z’s taillights are similar to those on the 300ZX.
(Nissan)

Nissan even added a turn-of-the-century touch, so to speak, by recreating the shape of the steering wheel of the Skyline from the 1999 film 2 Fast 2 Furious, because many enthusiasts consider it the most perfect user interface ever created.

The Z has a two-seat cabin.

The Z has a two-seat cabin.
(Nissan)

The entry-level Z Sport comes with a 400-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that Nissan borrows from Infiniti but tweaks for use in a dedicated high-performance car. Starting at $41,015, the Z is among the most affordable 400-horsepower sports cars available today, and about 10 grand less than the most powerful 382-horsepower version of its arch-rival, the Supra.

The Z's engine is a 400 hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6.

The Z’s engine is a 400 hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6.
(Nissan)

For $10,000, you can also upgrade to Z Performance trim, which adds more powerful brakes, a limited-slip differential for improved traction under acceleration, 19-inch “super-lightweight aluminum alloy” wheels, a Bose audio system, and additional fairings.

Only 240 limited edition yellow Z Proto Spec cars will be built.

Only 240 limited edition yellow Z Proto Spec cars will be built.
(Nissan)

A limited run of 240 Z Proto Spec vehicles will also be offered for $54,015 to celebrate the launch. They’re painted bright yellow with black roofs, like the Z show car was, and have gold wheels, yellow brake calipers, and yellow interior accents. This is the model I tested, but good luck finding one at list price when the Z goes on sale this summer.

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The Z’s chassis is an evolution of the 370Z, evidenced by an identical wheelbase, but it’s stiffened and fitted with a revised suspension that aims to improve both handling and ride comfort.

The Z Proto Spec has a unique yellow interior.

The Z Proto Spec has a unique yellow interior.
(Nissan)

The cabin features a digital instrument cluster and dual power seats, which Nissan says are perfect for drivers up to 6ft 3in tall. Two inches shy of this height, I found exactly the position I wanted to attack a trail or mountain road, but could have used a little more legroom to stretch out on long rides. A package of electronic driver aids with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control is included, even on cars with a stick shift.

Nissan hasn’t released an official 0-60mph acceleration time because it wants you to think more holistically about the Z’s performance, but according to my Mississippi it’s easily under five seconds.

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The turbocharged engine delivers power like a steamroller compared to the 370Z’s naturally aspirated V6, and its smooth, deep voice is almost too fine for a Z. Don’t worry, I’m sure the real-world Dom Torettos will find a way to crank it up .

In corners, the Z really finds its groove, proving it’s one of the most responsive cars at all costs. You can take it from cornering on the proverbial rails to drifting with just a nudge of the accelerator, and let your rear end hang out all day with relative ease.

It’s not the fastest way to get from A to B, but that’s the point of a car like this. Make the trip as fun as possible, whether you’re in the moment or in nostalgia for the past.

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2023 Nissan Z

Base Price: $41,015

As tested: $54,015

Type: Two-seat, two-door, rear-wheel drive hatchback

Engine: 3.0 liter turbocharged V6

Power: 400 hp, 350 lb-ft

Transmission: 6-speed manual

MPG: open

#Test #drive #Nissan #sports #car #history

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