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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.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, of course, but you can order it with an optional nine-speed automatic if you must.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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
#Test #drive #Nissan #sports #car #history