Pamplin Media Group – Nissan’s all-new 2023 Z Coupé is the best Z car yet

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The all-new 2023 Nissan 7 embraces the original concept of the long running sports car — small, nibble and great fun to drive.

The latest Z goes back to the future with retro looks and modern performance and technologies.

I drove a Datsun 240Z in high school and in my memory it is one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. However, when I look at the specs on that old 240Z, the numbers tell a different story. That car, with its inline six-cylinder engine and twin carburettors, pushed about 151 horsepower through a four-speed manual transmission. The 0-60 time of that car was 9.4 seconds. That seems anemic now, but the performance level was off the charts in 1981.

I recently spent a week in that old Z car’s successor – the 2023 Nissan Z. After getting used to the fact that Nissan has been making a version of the Z car for 53 years, and it’s been over 40 years since I had mine, I took a fresh look at Nissan’s puristic two-seat sports car.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Like the original 240Z, the 2023 Nissan Z is only available as a fastback hatchback

First, the exterior design holds up well. Nissan took off from the original 240Z look in the late 1970s and continued through the 1990s with a very different and much larger vehicle. Back then, the 2000s 350Z looked nothing like the original, but took performance to a whole new level.

The 370Z started a walk back to the original look, and it’s completed in the new Z coupe. The latest version of the Z car is again small, impractical and totally awesome. There’s room for two and plenty of room under the hatchback for some luggage, but that’s about it. This is a car that is there to drive, not to run errands.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The interior of the 2023 Nissan Z is simple but packed with available automotive technologies.

Under the hood is Nissan’s latest twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine. It’s good for 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, combined with a six-speed manual transmission that sends power to the rear wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential. The new Z hits 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, less than half the time of my old Datsun.

It’s not just the engine power, though. The new Z is state-of-the-art technology with a nine-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system also responds to voice commands. The headlights use LEDs and there is a digital dashboard for the driver.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The sports bucket seats in the 2023 Nissan Z are well supported for hard driving.

But the real heart and soul of any Z car is the driving experience. It will take you a few miles to get used to the directness of the steering and the power of the brakes. You might feel a little clunky and jerky at first, but once you get used to the car’s razor-sharp performance, most other cars on the road will feel like a bowl of oatmeal by comparison. The Z is on point, begging for a winding road through the mountains to get to know you as a driver.

There’s one more thing about the new Z that’s very different from the original, and that’s the price. The original 240Z in 1970 was priced at $3,526, or about $27,000 in today’s dollars. The 2023 Nissan Z has a base price of $39,990 for the Sport trim. We tested the Performance trim, which is $49,990 plus a $1,025 destination fee. The Sport trim comes without the touchscreen, big brakes and limited slip rear, but overall it’s probably the better deal because the engine and transmission are the same as the Performance model.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2023 Nissan Z is powered by a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that produces 400 horsepower and 350 foot pounds of torque. Either way, you’re going to have to put in a little more money than you did 50 years ago. The point is, with this new Z car, it’s worth the price. If you like classic sports cars with fully modern equipment, you should test drive the Nissan Z. You may feel like a teenager again.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Luggage space is limited in the 2023 Nissan Z, but it's designed for fun, not grocery shopping.

2023 Nissan Z Performance

Base Price: $49,990

Price as tested: $53,210

Type: Sports car

Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (400 hp, 350 lbs-ft)

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 9-speed automatic

EPA Estimated Mileage: 18/24

Total length: 172.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,486 pounds

Final Assembly: Tochigi, Japan

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