The Nissan Z is back, Baby!
The Nissan Z has a long and storied history in the automotive world, from its not-so-humble beginnings as a 1970 production model in response to Toyota’s 2000 GT sports car, to its iconic heights with the second generation 300zx, with so many flavors sandwiched in between.
The first Z, the 240Z, as its moniker implied, sported a 2.4 liter, 151-hp straight-six engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. Considered a performance bargain, with 0-60 times in the 8-second range and a very modest MSRP of $3,525, the 240z became an overnight sensation for Nissan, ultimately selling over 160,000 in its first 4 years of production.
Later models, such as the 260z, saw the addition of a 2+2 variant, adding the cramped and almost unusable rear bench seat, larger displacement, more hp. For those looking for a more restrained driving experience, a 3-speed automatic transmission.
The 280z saw significant improvement with electronic fuel injection, a 5-speed manual transmission while retaining the2+0 and 2+2 wheelbases, just in case you felt the need to carry a bag or two of groceries inside the cabin instead of the liftback cargo area.
With the introduction of the first generation of the 300ZX, or Z31 sported the same wedge design as the previous generations, but now the Z found itself with a more significant powerplant, the VG30DE engine, a SOHC 3.0 liter V6 sporting 165-hp in the naturally aspirated version and 200-hp with twin Garrett turbochargers and dual intercoolers. Aging aesthetics the Z31 saw minor redesigns in the front and rear bumpers, taillights and headlights, but overall, the body design from 1984 remained unchanged until 1990.
The gold standard (to me) came with the introduction of the second generation 300ZX, or Z32. The Z32 was the first car to be designed using CAD (computer aided drawing) systems on Cray-II supercomputers.
The result was a perfectly fitted vehicle, albeit tight packed, with fit and finish the best any manufacturer had seen to date, and a host of new technological advancements. The engine was retooled to accommodate dual overhead cams and variable valve timing, improving output to 222-hp for the naturally aspirated and 300-hp for the twin-turbo version.
Low to the ground with a wide body stance and aggressive styling, the Z32 quickly gained notoriety as “Import Car of theYear” by Motor Trend, while Road & Track named it, “One of the Best TenCars in the World”.
For the first time in Nissan’s history, the 1993 model year found a new addition to the line in the form of a convertible.
The Z32 was more than a car. Nissan was able to create a vibe that had not previously existed with earlier versions of the Z, or any other car in their lineup. From the platinum key to the roomy, holding interior, the quick handling and responsive powerplant, everything screamed, “this isn’t just a car, it’s an experience.”
The ‘90s saw a trend toward SUVs and consumer reluctance to purchase sports cars with high price tags, to the doom of many sports cars, including the Z. 1996 was the last model year of the Z32 in the U.S., with only about 80,000 cars sold. Nissan did continue to produce and sell the Z32 in Europe and Japan until 2000. Then a brief Z hiatus ensued.
In 2002 Nissan released the 350Z to great acclaim, both as a hard-top and convertible, no T-Tops this time around. A 3.5 liter DOHC naturally aspirated V6 mated to either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, producing 287-hp. A twin-turbo version was not produced.
The 350Z came with several package options, in fact Nissan offered 7 trim packages in total, each offering options and upgrades based on the chosen package.
The 350Z gave way to the 370Z in 2009, seeing a redesigned, more aggressive body line, a 3.7 liter naturally aspirated V6with options for a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters, with an output of 328 to 350 hp. Once again, Nissan did not offer a twin-turbo variant. But with hp in the 300 range for a naturally aspirated engine, who needed it?
Well, that’s a question for later….
The 370Z outlasted its predecessors, becoming for many long in the tooth, with a production run of 10 years! Even so, the 370Z was a sports car to be reckoned with at any time.
Now that we’ve covered a brief history ofNissan Z time, let’s get on with the show! Cue the lights and music, we’d like to usher in the 2023 Nissan Z!
Developed by a passionate team of designers and engineers, the all-new Z represents an approachable sports car for the modern age – with an unmatched 50-plus year heritage and global fan base.
“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 all-new, seventh-generation 2023 Z, which drops its numerical prefix in the U.S. for the first time, is scheduled to go on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide in summer 2022.
The original 240Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible – a car built for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. That spirit and heritage continues today with the launch of the latest reincarnation of Z.
The 2023 Z’s 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo engine adds a significant bump in power output over the previous generation 370Z. The engine is rated at400 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque starting from 1,600 to5,200 rpm. With an increase of 68 horsepower and a 30 percent increase in torque, the engine is designed to deliver a sharp, yet smooth response to the driver’s input, along with an estimated 15 percent improvement in 0 to 60 mph acceleration.
“Simply put, our goal is to make this the best Z yet, period. With each generation, we raise the bar, pushing the limits of Z and continuing to tap into the human instinct for that next thrilling journey,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the new Z. “More than just powerful and agile, the 2023 Z is designed to be one with the driver for all kinds of on-road adventures.”
To achieve the marked increase in horsepower and torque, and to deliver sharp response, small-diameter turbochargers were adopted, as well as a turbo speed sensor to ensure the capabilities of the turbos are fully utilized(max spooling speed). The twin turbos balance power output and response time, while the use of an electronic variable valve timing (e-VVT) intake valve system ensures optimum response, adjusting the intake valve timing on-the-fly to achieve excellent response and fuel efficiency in a variety of driving scenes.
One of the defining traits of Z has always been its bond between the car and the driver – a physical and visceral connection, no matter the road ahead. That human-machine bond dominates the new Z, especially in the presence of the standard, 6-speed manual transmission.
The 6-speed close-ratio manual transmission includes an EXEDY® high-performance clutch. As a physical touch point between driver and Z, the shifter glides to the next gear, almost instinctively, with minimal effort.
In a first for a rear-wheel drive Nissan vehicle, Z Performance models equipped with a manual transmission include an advanced launch assist control system that helps deliver smooth acceleration from a stopped position.All automatic transmission-equipped models feature the launch control system.Manual transmission-equipped models also feature a carbon-fiber composite driveshaft, with SynchroRev Match® added to 6MT Performance models.
An advanced, quick-response 9-speed automatic transmission is also available. The new 9-speed automatic offers a direct and quick response feeling and quick acceleration, thanks to its wide gear ratio spread and standard launch control system. Its satisfying engagement keeps the thrill of Z power and performance in sync with the driver. Aluminum paddle shifters are standard on all 9AT-equipped models, with unique paddle shifters, the same design as found on GT-R, on Performance models.
The engineering team tuned the chassis, cooling, suspension and steering to ensure the driver always feels connected with the car. Getting behind the wheel, the Z feels new and modern, yet still familiar.
When it comes to delivering predictable, responsive handling, the engineering team took a multi-prong approach, especially for high-speed driving and cornering. Enhanced body rigidity, an electronic power steering with rack assist and a strong mechanical feel, and wider front tires (on both Sport andPerformance grades) help increase maximum cornering G up to 13 percent.
Both front and rear dampers use a new monotube shock absorber design with a larger diameter than the outgoing 370Z, resulting in an approximately 20 percent reduction in dampening force to help minimize impact shock over uneven surfaces, enhance road-following performance and improve handling stability. The front double-wishbone aluminum suspension features new geometry, including increased caster angle, improving straight line stability.A two-point front strut tower brace is standard. The rear independent multi-link aluminum suspension has also been reconfigured with new settings.
Two drive modes are offered on automatic transmission models, standard and sport. Standard mode is best suited for commuting and long highway drives for a pleasant drive. Sport mode unlocks the Z’s performance potential, offering faster acceleration control, a sports-mode steering algorithm, active sound enhancement and sports-mode vehicle dynamic control setting best matched to take on a spirited run through a winding road. All Z Performance grade models (automatic and manual) utilize a mechanical clutch-type limited-slip differential.
Responsive braking is provided by 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes.Larger sport brakes with red-painted calipers are standard on Performance grade models. The Z Sport grade rides on dark-painted 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Yokohama ADVAN Sport high performance tires, while Z Performance grades features 19-inch RAYS® super lightweight forged aluminum-alloy mounted withBridgestone Potenza® S007 high performance tires.
The 2023 Z boasts a fresh, sleek exterior design with an appearance that communicates respect to its lineage. Its long hood and short deck are fundamentally Z, with a fresh look that is “love at first sight.” The design theme for the exterior and interior of the new Z was “tradition with modern technology.”
"Inspired by the voices of thousands of Z owners and Z lovers and ignited by internal conversations around the six generations of Z that have come before, we found ourselves gravitating towards the sketches that touched the high points of certain decades while remaining true to our vision of the future," said Alfonso Albaisa, global head of design at Nissan.“Ultimately, we created a Z that travels between the decades while being completely modern."
For the exterior, the new Z takes on a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports car design, with a long hood, lower rear stance and a silhouette that pays homage to the first-generation Z. The designers utilized the latest technologies to streamline the design, and incorporated LED lighting to give dimension without unnecessary elements. The LED headlights have two half-circles that take their inspiration from the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 1970s, which fit naturally with the new Z’s identity.
The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the 2023Z from the side. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile, whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture.
The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect. Door handles are a flush-mounted design and the rear hatch design is ultra-thin, yet with increased rigidity over the previous 370Z design. In the rear, the blister fenders smoothly direct flow air past the horizontal rear panel. The rear combination lamps incorporate modern technology into the design reminiscent of the Z32 (1990-1996) 300ZX, including new 3D signature LED taillights.
The Z Performance grade features a rear spoiler that creates positive pressure where the rear hatch and spoiler meet, mitigating rear lift.The front spoiler takes advantage of knowledge gained through Nissan GT-R development to utilize negative pressure zones.
The new 2023 Z is available in three monotone exterior colors –Black Diamond Metallic, Gun Metallic and Rosewood Metallic. The new Z is also offered with a two-tone exterior, including six colors combined with a SuperBlack roof: Brilliant Silver, Boulder Gray, new Seiran Blue, new Ikazuchi Yellow, Passion Red TriCoat and Everest White Pearl TriCoat.
Designed to fit the driver and passenger like a glove, the 2023 Z cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches. The center stack takes inspiration from other generations before it, with three analog pod gauges on the instrument panel, 8.0-inch touchscreen audio display in the center and climate control switches near the shifter.
The interior design team also sought advice from professional motorsports legends, such as Nissan Super GT500 driver Tsugio Matsuda, to give the Z an ideal sports car cabin for all driving scenes. This can be seen in the instrumentation, with all vital information found in the 12.3-inch customizable digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the 12 o’clock position.
The 12.3-inch TFT meter display is all-new with three display modes to suit driver preference. “Normal” mode offers a sporty feel with the center area for navigation, audio and vehicle information. “Enhanced” mode pushes the tachometer and speedometer to the edges of the display, giving more space in the center for a larger navigation map and information to be displayed. “Sport” mode prioritizes the tachometer in the center with shift-uplight at the top for shift information in the driver’s field of view. The Sport mode also allows for a boost gauge or G meter to be displayed.
The new Z’s center stack uses a three-zone approach, placing three analog pod gauges on the instrument panel (boost, turbo speed, volt) within the driver’s eyesight. Both the manual and automatic shift levers are new, each of them custom-engineered for optimized grip and comfort.
The new, deep-dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic.
The design of the seats utilizes know-how from the GT-R’s development to enhance both hold and fit. An expanded use of suede on the seatback suppresses initial lateral shake on the body, creating more comfortable drives, as well as reducing body movement when the vehicle is aggressively cornering.
The 2023 Z Sport grade offers black woven cloth seats with an8-way manual driver’s seat and 4-way manual passenger seat. The Z Performance grade adds leather-appointed seating surfaces, 4-way power driver’s seat with manual lifter, lumbar and thigh support, 4-way power passenger seat and heated seats.
A full range of convenience features are offered as standard equipment, including Nissan Intelligent Key™ with Push Button Start,Intelligent Cruise Control, Automatic Temperature Control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, RearView Monitor, two 12-volt power points, two USB points(Type-A and Type-C), and front and rear sonar sensors. The 8.0-inch display audio touchscreen with six speakers includes Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™,Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®, SiriusXM®Radio, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant and Siri® Eyes Free.
The Z Performance grade includes a 9.0-inch touchscreen with navigation and NissanConnect® Services with Wi-Fi hotspot. Also included is an8-speaker Bose® Audio system with Active Noise Cancellation and Active SoundEnhancement.
Three interior color environments are available – Black, Red andBlue. The special Z Proto Spec edition features yellow accents throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature layered seat material to create depth and a gradation effect.
For the United States market, the 2023 Nissan Z will be offered inSport and Performance grades, each with a choice of a 6-speed manual or new9-speed automatic transmission.
All models include a range of standard driver assistance and safety technologies, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection,Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High BeamAssist and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning.
In addition to the wide range of standard comfort, convenience and connectivity features on the Sport grade, the Performance grade adds the8-speaker Bose® Audio System, 9.0-inch touchscreen with navigation,NissanConnect® Services with Wi-Fi hotspot, mechanical Limited SlipDifferential, 19-inch RAYS® super lightweight forged aluminum-alloy mounted with Bridgestone Potenza® S007 high performance tires, Nissan Sport Brakes, heated side mirrors, aluminum sport pedals, dual exhaust with Performance grade muffler and heated, leather-appointed power seats.
One special edition is available, celebrating the distinctive Z Proto introduced in 2020 – called the Proto Spec. Limited to just 240 units in the U.S., the Proto Spec model includes yellow-colored brake calipers with Z logo, bronze-colored 19-inch RAYS aluminum-alloy wheels, exclusive shift lever knob (6MT only), exclusive Proto Spec leather-appointed seats with yellow accents, exclusive Proto Spec suede + cloth door trim with yellow stitching and special Proto Spec interior stitching.
“The Z is more than a sports car you drive, it is an extension of the driver that moves and responds to the driver’s intentions,” added Gupta. “Whether on an unexplored winding road or your daily commute, the Z brings a smile and awakens the senses.”