by Jay Traugott
Nissan did the right thing and it knows it. Instead of giving up on its iconic Z sports car following the 370Z's retirement in 2020, the Japanese automaker did the exact opposite. And this is the gorgeous result. Introducing the 2023 Nissan Z, the seventh generation of the Z-car family that dates back to 1969. The new Z not only looks the part but it's got the performance goods all combined in what should be an affordable package.
Two-door sports coupes such as this are a dying breed but Nissan still made the brave decision to proceed. It'd be understandable if had done the opposite, but giving up on such an iconic nameplate didn't seem right. The original plan was to have a live debut at this year's New York Auto Show. Unfortunately, the event has been cancelled so we'll have to make do with an online reveal for now. After years of anticipation, the new Z is here and we couldn't be happier.
The new 2023 Z is instantly recognizable as a Z-car. Nissan says the exterior styling is inspired by past generations, such as the 240Z-influenced silhouette. Its rear-wheel-drive layout is evident thanks to the long hood and rear-biased stance. Up front are standard LED headlights featuring two half-circles, a styling trait borrowed from the JDM-only 240ZG of the 1970s.
Notice how the roofline flows nicely from the nose to the more angled rear edge. Another cool design element is the flush-mounted door handles and thin rear hatch. Out back, the fenders help direct airflow past the rear panel. We also like the unique 3D LED taillight signature which was influenced by the 300ZX.
The pricier Z Performance grade tacks on a rear spoiler, while the front spoiler was developed with lessons taken from the GT-R. A set of 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels come standard and 19-inch super-lightweight RAYS forged alloys wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza tires are part of the Performance trim package. Buyers can select from three monotone exterior colors, or a two-tone exterior with a choice between six colors - including the Seiran Blue you see here and the Ikazuchi Yellow from the Z Proto concept - combined with a black roof.
Under the hood lies the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 found in the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, meaning it has 400 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque from 1,600 rpm to 5,600 rpm. Nissan hasn't announced performance specs, but with a 0-60 mph time promised to be 15% quicker than the 370Z, a little more than 4 seconds should be fairly accurate. Power is directed to the rear wheels through the standard close-ratio six-speed manual or an optional nine-speed automatic gearbox with launch control and aluminum paddle shifters. Two transmission modes are offered: standard and sport, the latter unlocking a unique algorithm for sportier driving and enhanced overall dynamics.
Engineers enhanced body rigidity, added electronic power steering, and wider front rubber for both trims in order to boost cornering G up to 13 percent. Front and rear dampers boast a new monotube shock absorber design and the front double-wishbone aluminum suspension has new geometry for improved straight-line stability. The rear independent suspension also underwent significant upgrades.
Stopping power comes from 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with optional red-painted calipers. On the Sport, these are two-piston front and single-piston rear, but the Performance gets four-piston front and two-piston rears.
Like most of its predecessors, the new Z is a two-seater. Nissan says the interior is designed "to fit the driver and passenger like a glove." The center stack has old-school-inspired touches like the three analog gauges (turbo speed, boost, voltage) on top of the instrument panel while an 8-inch touchscreen is located beneath. A 9-inch screen is optional. The climate control knobs are located just ahead of the shifter.
The driver further benefits from a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster packed with vital information that can appear in three modes, Normal, Enhanced, and Sport. The latter, for example, enables for a boost gauge or G meter to be shown. The new steering wheel incorporates quick access controls along with a "vintage aesthetic." The GT-R-influenced seats are available in either black woven cloth or optional leather. Some standard convenience features include push-button start, a pair of USB ports, six speakers, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, and Bluetooth.
A Wi-Fi hotspot and an 8-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellation are available. Buyers have a choice of three colors (Black, red, and blue) while the special edition Z Proto (limited to 240 examples) includes yellow interior accents and upgraded seat materials.
Nissan has not announced pricing at this time but we suspect the 2023 Z will cost a few thousand more than the 370Z's $31,000 base price. Figure no less than $35k. A fully-loaded Performance trim will easily surpass $40k.
The Nissan Z is not short on rivals, but there's only one that really matters: the Toyota GR Supra. In base trim, it begins at nearly $44k and upgrading to the BMW-sourced inline-six engine ups that amount by at least $8k. The new Z-car has its Toyota rival beat in that department, but we'll have to wait and see the new performance specs to get a better overall picture of things. Either way, it's going to be one hell of a rivalry. Other contenders include the Ford Mustang EcoBoost, Audi TT RS, Jaguar F-Type, and even the Porsche 718 Cayman.
It may have taken some time for a proper 370Z successor, but the 2023 Nissan Z is definitely worth the wait. The combination of its retro-inspired styling inside and out, powerful engine, and advanced tuning make it fully worthy of its inherited legacy.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Nissan Z:
Check out some informative Nissan Z video reviews below.