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As the global auto industry approaches the future of electrification, Japan’s major automakers are fighting the good fight for customers who still want to drive an old sports car. And I mean driving.
Toyota has restarted the Supra, and the Acura the Integra, both of which are available with manual transmissions. The Mazda Miata has never fallen back on this course.
The DIY category also includes the Toyota GR86, GR Corolla, Subaru WRX, Honda’s Civic Si and Civic Type-R, but the new Nissan Z may be the most retro of the bunch.
The 2023 Nissan Z is a completely updated version of the 370Z that it replaces and is designed as a tribute to the history of the model line, which began with the 1970Z240Z.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard, of course, but you can order it with an optional nine-speed automatic transmission, if needed.
The Z’s long hood/short roof profile, rectangular grille and petal-shaped headlights are all direct calls to the 240Z, while the oval taillights are borrowed from the Rad 1990 300ZX.
Nissan even added a touch of the turn of the century – so to speak – by modeling the shape of the steering wheel from the ones in Appeared in 1999 in the Skyline movie “2 Fast 2 Furious” Because many enthusiasts think it’s the best user interface ever created.
The entry-level Z Sport comes with a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 that Nissan borrows from Infiniti, but is modified to run in a custom performance car. Starting at $41,015, the Z is among the lowest-priced 400-hp sports cars available today and about $10,000 less than the most powerful version of its arch rival, the Supra, which tops out at 382 hp.
For $10,000, you can also upgrade to a Z Performance model that adds stronger brakes, a limited-slip differential for better traction during acceleration, “19-inch ultra-lightweight aluminum wheels,” a Bose audio system and additional trim.
A limited edition 240 Z Proto Spec is also offered at $54,015 to celebrate the launch. It’s painted bright yellow with black roofs like the Z show car, and it has gold wheels, yellow brake calipers and yellow interior accents. This is the model I tested, but good luck finding one at list price when the Z goes on sale this summer.
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The Z chassis is an evolution from the 370Z, as evidenced by its identical wheelbase, but has been stiffened and equipped with a re-engineered suspension with the goal of improving both handling and ride comfort.
The cabin contains a digital instrument cluster and two power seats that Nissan says are designed to perfectly accommodate drivers up to 6 feet 3 inches. At a couple of inches off that height I found the exact position I wanted to attack a road or mountain road, but I could have used a little more legroom to stretch out on longer trips. A package of electronic driver aids with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control is included, even in cars with a transmission.
Nissan hasn’t released an official 0-60 mph acceleration time because it wants you to think about the Z’s performance in a more thorough way, but it’s easily under five seconds according to my Mississippi.
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The turbocharged engine delivers steam engine-like power compared to the naturally aspirated V6 in the 370Z and its smooth, deep sound is almost too polished for a Z. Don’t worry, I’m sure in the real world Dom Torettos will find his way to crank it.
The curves are where the Z really finds its groove and proves to be one of the most responsive cars at any price. You can take it from turns on the proverbial bars to drifting with just a hit on the throttle and tail suspension all day with relative ease.
Doing this isn’t the fastest way to get from point A to point B, but that’s the point of a car like this. Make the trip as enjoyable as possible, whether you’re in the moment or feeling nostalgic.
2023 April Z
Base price: $41,015
As tested: $54,015
Type: 2-passenger, 2-door, rear-wheel drive hatchback
Engine: 3.0L Turbocharged V6
Power: 400 hp, 350 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual
NON-SLIP phone pad for 4-in-1
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