The all-new, gorgeous Z is roaring our way this summer, bringing with it loads of growly fun, 400 horses under the hood and ready to take on all comers in its (reasonable) price range of $41,015.
I only had the new Z for an hour, starting in Boulder, Colorado and blasting up the mountain to a place called Nederland and back, a round trip distance of approximately 40 miles. That was all I needed to make up my mind, really, though I’d love a typical week’s loan. The road to Nederland is beautiful and curvy, and so is the Z, and we got along just fine despite my wishing I could try the manual, which, happily, is the same price as the automatic.
Here’s what’s cookin’.
First, there are a few trims available. The meaner, faster Z Coupe Performance goes for $52,015, also with a choice of manual or automatic for the same price. Finally, a limited-edition called the Coupe Proto Spec will set you back $54,015. I wanted for nothing on my test drive, however. Whatever Z you pick, you’ll be cleared for takeoff.
Nissan says the Z is “80 percent new” but anyone who’s ever eyeballed the Z line since its 1970 introduction will recognize that stealthy-looking DNA and feel right at home driving the 2023 model. The big difference, of course, is the 400 horsepower, twin-turbo V6, plus a whole bunch of other goodies that’ll get you there faster, wherever “there” is.
For instance, a recirculating valve that keeps boosted air inside the system instead of out of the exhaust gives you a healthy boost, and a variable valve timing for intake and an integrated exhaust manifold with a water-cooled charge cooler all contribute to the machine’s performance. Employ the launch control and you’ve got a very fast little sportster, indeed. Buyers can also get a mechanical limited-slip differential and Nissan Performance Brakes on Performance and Proto models.
And the drive? Plenty of speed, power and torque, natch. It’s a tad hefty machine at approximately 3,500 pounds, which one felt in the wheel when turning through tight corners, but with the more powerful trims, that probably won’t be as much of an issue. This new model features new mono tube shocks, new front geometry and rear suspension tuning to help in that department.
Electric power steering – the first time on a Z – allows an outstanding amount of precision (translation: fun fun fun.) It’s rear-wheel drive, by the way. Mileage is around 18 MPG in city driving, 24 highway for the manual, with 19 city and 28 highway for the automatic.
Lookswise, it resembles an arrow in motion, with strong lines on the rear haunches and the hood and a big ol’ mouth up front.
Inside, it’s super-plush, festooned with red leather and the Z-signature trio of three gauges indicating what the turbo charger’s up to, tach and volts. It was comfortable, of course, but any car can be comfy over a short trip. Let’s see what the tuchus feels like after 6 hours – in my future, perhaps.
It’s a crowded market at the moment, with the Toyota GR 86, Subaru’s BRZ, Mazda MX-5 out there blasting around – all of which I’ve test-driven – and the upcoming Civic Type R and Toyota’s “hot” GR Corolla delivering even more competition.
The verdict on the Z, though? It’s a hit.