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2023 Nissan Z Performance vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

2023 Nissan Z Performance vs.  2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

If this was an 80s movie, the newbie, the 2023 Nissan Z, would be ravaged for the first half of the movie by our bully, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Then there’d be a montage of the Z- lifting weights, running and doing high kicks—perhaps while wearing a cropped sweatshirt and some wristbands—and at the end it would come back and teach the Ford, and all of us, a lesson about perseverance in the face of adversity. That lesson will have to wait, because while the Z makes a valiant effort, there aren’t enough terry cloth sweatbands in the world to help him beat the muscular Mach 1’s nimble moves and deep-toned soundtrack.

The Mustang plays the role of the rich villain in this story, and a look at the pricing reveals the monetary gap between the two. You can get an entry-level Z for $41,015, but a Mach 1 requires a minimum of $54,595. (A more equal battle might be between the base Z and the $43,960 Mustang GT Premium.) Our test Nissan was the Performance model, which gets a host of valuable additions, including better brakes, a rear-locking differential, gloss aluminum pedals and wider performance tires. That raises the cost of the Z by about $10,000, and our car pushed it to $53,610 with illuminated sill plates, glowing two-tone black-and-candy red paint and floor mats. Our Mustang had the Mach 1 Handling package, which increased its price by $3750, but made its money with gloriously tacky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a rear spoiler with a cute Gurney kickup and adjustable strut mounts. It also sported snazzy red calipers, bringing in another $495 for a total of $60,740.

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

The Mach 1 and the Z really should be friends because they actually have a lot in common. Each can trace its ancestry back to the same era (1969-70) and offers just enough retro design cues to make it recognizable even to those without a car. There’s a cliche among classic car enthusiasts that everyone has a Mustang story, and the same goes for the Z. Often people had both, remembering fond times in decades of Datsuns and Fords. In our modern versions, both cars have a six-speed manual transmission and promise to make good memories in the future with at least 400 horses under their long hood. The Mustang’s 5.0-liter V-8 pumps 480 ponies along with 410 pound-feet of torque just above halfway up the tach. The Z claims exactly 400 horsepower from the twin-turbo 3.0-liter 350 pound-feet V-6 spread over a wide rev range from 1600 rpm to 5200 rpm.

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

The Stang shrinks the Nissan in every dimension, including weight, where the Z is nearly 300 pounds lighter (3507 to the Mustang’s 3793). It’s also just over 16 inches shorter than the Mach 1 with a nearly 7-inch shorter wheelbase. Put the two cars side by side and you can’t even see the Z behind the Ford. This gives the Nissan an edge in the small day-to-day challenges of parking and maneuvering, but the Mach 1 offers more space in the trunk and feels more planted and stable when the speedometer needle rises and the road starts to turn.


2nd place:
Nissan Z Performance

Highlights: Quick off the line, beautiful in a parking lot, a compliant street car.
lows:
Tires don’t last, sticky interior, tiny cargo space.

1st place:
Ford Mustang Mach 1

Highlights: Track-worthy chassis, free-breathing V-8 soundtrack, comfortable seats.
lows:
Stiff ride, unexciting interior design, high price.


Marc UrbanoCar and driver

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

Wheelbase and width (the Rod is nearly three inches wider) are only a small part of the Mustang’s advantage when maneuvering at high speed. The adaptive dampers make a noticeable difference in how it reacts when diving and ascending a mountain road. The Z feels less yielding – it’s stiffer and more easily startled. But what really worried Nissan was the tire choice. Not only are the Bridgestone Potenza S007s smaller, at 255/40R-19 and 275/35R-19, compared to the Mustang’s lower profile and wider 305/30ZR-19 and 315/30ZR-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, they are just not that good. The Michelins are tacky like a broken-open beehive, and while they tend to explore imperfections in the pavement if you just want to go straight, it’s worth it for the way the Mach 1 hangs from a corner like a spider monkey passing through. a forest meanders . It’s all trust, all joy, all rock hard rudeness to whoever is left behind. Pleasant at moderate speeds, the Z howls and floats once pushed. Hit the brakes hard and the Mustang stops and spins. The Z slips and complains.

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

Our skidpad and braking tests supported the first impressions. The Mach 1 pulls a stomach twisting 1.06 g, while the Z can’t make the circle at more than 0.93 g. The Ford came to a stop from 70 mph in 138 feet, while the Nissan took 166 feet to go down. If your goal is to ruin the day of tourists in your local canyons, the Mustang is the more intimidating machine, not only because it pops up in their rearview mirror like a sudden summer storm, but because it will do with all the thunder that comes with it. Turbos may be an efficient way to make horsepower, but nothing sounds like a free-breathing V-8. It is a sound that rolls down the windows and seeks tunnels. The Z doesn’t even come close. It’s almost quiet, disappointingly enough that we felt sorry for the kids at a lookout point asking for it. Their faces clearly said, “Is that it?” Look boy, it’s a better car for sneaking home late. In a Mach 1, you can’t sneak anywhere.

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

There is no clear winner in the exterior design as both cars are undeniably beautiful machines that you would be proud to park in your driveway. Visually, we would give Nissan more points for its interior, which at first glance is uncluttered and attractive, in a flashy two-tone. The Mach 1’s looks like a Mustang interior: old-fashioned by this point and utilitarian. Sit down and start touching things, and Ford takes an unexpected win over material quality. The Z feels cheap, from the thin door handle to the S-mode sport button, which inexplicably has to be held down to activate Sport mode and the rev-match function, even though it allows quick presses that do nothing. . The Mustang may not look great inside, but everything feels solid, and if you want it to beep for you, it’s a menu option that stays on or off until you change it back. The Mustang also compensates for a harsh ride quality with a plush seat that cushions the bumps while still providing support in the corners. The Nissan’s ride is slightly smoother, but the seat cushion is significantly firmer, making the Mach 1 more comfortable overall.

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

Marc UrbanoCar and driver

Despite what appears to be a runaway win for Ford, the Nissan is showing itself well in the latest matchup. Get these two ready for a drag race, and the Mustang’s high horsepower and extra torque won’t help. Both cars offer launch control and no-lift shift, and each reaches 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. But then the Z sniffs ahead to clear the quarter-mile in 13.0 flat, compared to the Mach 1’s 13.1-second run. It’s not enough to make the Nissan the hero of this story, but it does give him some dignity, so maybe the Mustang won’t push him for the rest of the school year. The lesson in this movie may be that you don’t always succeed in winning over the popular kid, but if you have a retro-cool coupe with rear-wheel drive, stick shift and retro-cool coupe, you’ll have a blast to try it.


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