The Nissan Z is one of the most iconic sports cars in history. It’s back—and looks sensational. While we haven’t had a chance to test drive the new 2023 Nissan Z yet, we already know it’s better than the outgoing 370Z by a mile. How come? Here are three key reasons—and one major question mark.
The 2023 Nissan Z is a knockout
Walk around the 2023 Z, and you see cues carried forward from the original 1970’s 240Z—and even from the mid-1990’s version, too. The nose features an open, but not “snarling” grille, that’s intricate and beautiful up close, as well as muscular, blistered fenders to accommodate 18- or 19-inch wheels shod with extra-fat P255/40R19 front tires and P275/35R19 rears.
Those wheels nest closely beneath the body, so the new Z looks wider (even though it’s exactly the same width as the outgoing car), in part because the body is actually stretched five inches longer. So from the side your eye interprets that length as a sleeker shape. It’s a clever trick, as is a very thin-seeming roof—that looks even thinner when you order the car with a black roof, regardless of the color of the rest of the body.
Seen from behind, the back of the car houses a blacked-out oval grid with LED tail lamps. This shape, and the pattern of the LED brake and driving lights within in it, is a nod to the prior 1990-1996 300ZX.
Together, these elements are far more flowing than what was on the original 240Z. Compare that 1974 car to the 2023 Nissan Z, and you see a gorgeous fluidity to the modern car’s shape, where light plays off every angle—and yet, still, every pen stroke tells you it’s the Z reborn.
It’s way more powerful
While Nissan’s yet to reveal 0 to 60 times or top speed, the engine shrinks from a 3.5-liter V-6 to a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6. That forced breathing enables increasing horsepower from 332 to 400hp, 6,400 rpm, and torque jumps from 270 to 350 lb-ft of torque.
Since the latter is the accelerative force you feel out of the gate, it’s important that Nissan also engineered this new powerplant to be flexible, with peak torque accessible in a broad band, between 1,600 to 5,600 rpm., so you have power for quick passing, but don’t have to wind out the engine just to get the Z moving.
You can shift yourself—with the added bonus of launch control
We don’t know what the 2023 Nissan Z will cost, which makes it a challenge to ballpark exact performance rivals, but considering the Toyota Supra starts in the mid-$40K range—but kinda cheats with a lower-performance 2.0-liter four cylinder, and only offers a stick shift, forcing drivers to get an automatic if they want a more muscular six cylinder—we’re thrilled Nissan’s not taking the easy way out.
The 2023 car will come with a six-speed manual gearbox that also features a rev-matching downshift function that works like “double clutching” to pre-rev the engine before you shift from, say, 4th to 3rd gear. That’ll extend the life of the transmission, but also make choosing the manual more accessible to more customers. A two-pedal choice, nine-speed automatic will also be sold for commuters who’d rather not row their own, and that transmission, like the manual, will feature a launch control if you really want to wring every drop of performance from the engine. (Launch control in the manual setup requires going for the higher-grade Performance model.)
Proof will come in the test drive
There’s still one final characteristic we want to know: The car’s weight. Nissan’s promising a faster car that’s also got excellent grip. But something that’s less tangible, but matters just as much, is how much fun the 2023 Z is to drive. You can add horsepower easily these days. Better engineering and fatter rubber can yield more stickiness. But the prior Z wasn’t just bloated looking—it handled heavily, so driving it hard felt a bit too much like a chore.
Interestingly rivals like the aforementioned Toyota Supra with an in-line six cylinder isn’t any lighter than the outgoing 370Z, yet it handles like it is. So the 2023 Z car doesn’t have to lose weight (though it might, since the 3.0-liter V-6 is smaller than the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6). It just has to dance better.
Nissan knows how to do this; if you had the luck of driving any recent GT-Rs, Nissan’s now retired hypercar, you know the company has the chops to completely nail not just stats, but an ear-to-ear grin-inducing Z sports car that provides competition to the Ford Mustang, the aforementioned Toyota, and even pricier cars like Porsche’s Cayman.
Expected on-sale: spring 2023.
Expected price: Roughly $36,000-$50,000
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!