Imperfect and brilliant, what an unexpectedly great time to be a fan of Japanese sports cars. The Toyota Supra is back, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is as excellent as it’s ever been, you can buy a new Civic Type R at your local Honda store, and the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins are not only available, they’ve just been reinvigorated. Making its debut Tuesday, this 2023 Nissan Z will give enthusiasts yet another solid choice in this unexpectedly bustling segment when it goes on sale next spring.
The automaker’s seventh-generation Z car loses the numeric part of its name but gains so much more. Designed to be approachable and familiar, modern yet classic, this replacement for the 370Z features a long hood and short deck, typical sports car styling cues. There’s a bit of first-gen Z in the profile, and those taillights were inspired by the Z32 model from the 1990s and they look cool. That big squared-off grille opening is impossible to miss, but still nicely integrates with the rest of the bodywork, more so than on the Z Proto concept that debuted last year thanks to a different-color insert that makes its texture more noticeable.
The 2023 Z will be offered in three monotone paint colors: Black Diamond Metallic, Gun Metallic, and Rosewood Metallic. Aside from those options, six two-tone schemes are offered that pair a range of hues with a black roof for some ocular zing. The available two-tone colors include Brilliant Silver, Boulder Gray, Seiran Blue, Ikazuchi Yellow, Passion Red TriCoat, and Everest White Pearl TriCoat.
On the performance front, expect thoroughly modern powertrains and a retuned chassis that promises better stability and a smoother ride. Even though it shares the same basic underpinnings as its predecessor, the 2023 Z is around 80% new. Its double-wishbone front suspension features updated geometry for enhanced straight-line stability. Larger-diameter monotube shocks should help improve the ride quality on uneven surfaces. A strut tower brace is standard equipment and larger four-wheel disc brakes with red calipers are included on the Performance trim, as are 19-inch forged Rays wheels and Bridgestone Potenza S007 high-performance tires. Nissan isn’t messing around.
The 2023 Nissan Z’s cozy, two-seat interior is as new as its bodywork, even if it looks like there are a few carryover components (we see you, door handles). Three interior colors are offered: black, red, and a shockingly bright blue. Befitting a Z car, there are some retro touches, as well. You get three analog gauges on the dashboard, one for boost, turbo speed, and voltage. Another classic element is the steering wheel, which has a small-diameter center section, just like cars of yore.
What is not a throwback, however, is the in-cabin technology. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard fare, though you can get a 9-inch with embedded navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported by both infotainment systems, though the former smartphone-mirroring system can connect wirelessly with the larger display. There’s also a customizable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
Thanks to all that, Nissan’s fabled Z car finally moves into the 21st century, but there’s even more circuitry and software to talk about. Keyless entry with push-button start, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are just a few amenities that are included at no extra charge.
The roster of standard safety features is just as robust. You get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and more. Overall, the standard tech roster isn’t too shabby for a sports car and is certainly competitive with the Z’s rivals.
Providing more than just horsepower, there are two 12-volt power outlets in the Z plus a pair of USB ports — one Type A and a more modern Type C. Manually adjustable seats are standard, but you can get power-operated buckets in the Performance model.
Ahead of the firewall, just one engine is offered: a smooth and sweet 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 borrowed from Infiniti’s Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models. Giving drivers plenty of substance to match all that style, this unit delivers a stout 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That’s a bump of 68 and 80, respectively, over the outgoing non-Nismo 370Z. That added oomph will reduce the car’s 0-to-60-mph time by around 15%, meaning it should do the deed in around 4 seconds flat, similar to the six-cylinder Toyota Supra.
Routing twist to the rear wheels, drivers have a choice of two transmissions. A close-ratio six-speed manual is standard, complete with an Exedy high-performance clutch and a carbon-fiber driveshaft. Helping even novice drivers drop gears like a pro, SynchroRev Match is standard in the higher-end Performance trim. Of course, if three pedals are too much work (for shame!), you can always opt for a nine-speed automatic gearbox, which features launch control. The uplevel Performance model also gains a limited-slip differential, which, ya know, limits slippage of the wheels for enhanced traction.
Aside from a special edition, Proto Spec model, which features a bunch of yellow accents, 19-inch Rays wheels, and is limited to just 240 units, two trims of 2023 Nissan Z will be offered: Sport is the base version, while Performance the premium offering. Naturally, there’s no pricing or fuel-economy information to share just yet, but this exciting new fun machine from Nissan will probably start around $40,000. The new Z is scheduled to go on sale in the US next spring.