2023 Nissan Z is youthful, iconic sports car
Pop culture icons regularly go by just one name: Cher, Madonna, Bono and Beyonce. Icons need no further explanation. You know who they are. The same can apply to this week’s tester which goes by simply one letter: Z.
The 2023 Nissan Z is a legendary sports car with a loyal group of followers, as evidenced by the several times I got stopped by Nissan Z enthusiasts to take a picture of this reborn sports car.
“Z is the pure expression of Thrill. It is Nissan’s passion wrapped up on four wheels,” said Ashwani Gupta, representative executive officer and chief operating officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “The new Z retains its authenticity as a pure sports car to keep you connected to the road while bringing in the latest modern technologies to make sure the car can help keep you connected to your life.”
The 2023 model year kicks off the seventh-generation of Nissan’s iconic Z-car where previous iterations had cult-like followings. So with much ballyhoo, the 2023 Nissan Z returns without the 370 moniker, now simply known as Z. And that fits as this is a youthful, whimsical rear-wheel sports car.
I actually drove around a few 20-something relatives who were in awe of this car and one who owned an older version of the 370 Z and they enjoyed everything about the new Z car, from the looks to the performance.
And as a 40-something (almost 50-something) I am not the demographic for the 2023 Nissan Z. It’s aimed directly my 20-something nephew or my daughter’s 20-something boyfriend. Even though I’m the “old guy” it doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the Z. The engine alone makes that quite easy.
A twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine cranks out 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. There are two transmissions including a six-speed manual transmission which will be a favorite amongst the enthusiasts. My tester had the optional nine-speed automatic transmission. The shifting was smooth and befitting of sports car performance.
The dual exhaust pipes with stainless-steel finishers provide enough of a tune to appease all enthusiasts. My nephew’s older Z is tuned up and even he liked the note emitting from this new Z.
The looks have been met with some lukewarm reception by some. The grille and front end has a distinctive look and starkly different appearance than previous generations. Some people wanted it to be a little more aggressive and certainly it could be. But from a complete look, the Nissan Z looks every bit the part of a sports car with a longer hood and sharp sloping back. In many ways it still resembles those old classic Z cars from the past, but yet feels so modern and current.
Overall, the design is a winner for me as I’m in the camp of liking the look.
Inside, the brand new “Z” logo is prominently displayed on the leather steering wheel. The steering wheel feels great in your hands and looks just as good. Red leather seats add a pop to the interior and showcase the playful, sporty side. Likewise the aluminum performance pedals give the car a special vibe.
Between the gauges and the nine-inch touchscreen, the Z is driver focused. Sure the passenger (in this two seater) will be comfortable with both lumbar support and thigh support. As the “old guy” I usually don’t enjoy sport-styled seats like this, but in the Z they were comfortable. And sure my old knees and the low profile made it hard to get in and out of this car, but it’s so much fun to drive you can forgive that flaw.
I’m obligated to mention cargo room, but this is a sports car, so you shouldn’t expect much in that regard. And the Z has 6.9 cubic feet of room. It’s technically a lift back with the back “trunk” opening upwards. I compared the area to my nephew’s 2017 Z and there was more useful cargo in the new Z than the old one.
Perhaps the Z resonates with young people because it’s more reasonably priced than a German sports car or an American muscle car. There are three trim options, each with manual and automatic transmission options: Sport, Performance and Proto. My tester was the Performance with the Automatic Transmission.
With a starting price under $40,000 (Sport trim), the Z represents an opportunity to afford a sports car. My tester had a starting price of $49,990. Some of the extras that added to the MSRP were illuminated kick plates, premium two-tone paint color, floor mats and a destination fee. The final MSRP of my pre-production test vehicle was $53,610.
Fuel economy for the turbocharged V6 engine is 19 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway. The manual transmission offers a slight uptick in fuel economy over the automatic. In a week’s worth of heavy-footed driving, I averaged nearly 24 mpg.
Within the auto industry vehicles get called icons too often. I’m guilty as charged of this. But for the Nissan Z it lives up to that billing and has earned that standing. The eye-catching sports car sure felt like a big star during my week with it.