For many auto enthusiasts, the thought of a Nissan Z car harkens to thoughts of decades gone by – back to 1969 for many. It was the year Nissan (then called Datsun) would shake up the sports car world with the original 240Z. A lightweight, two-door sports car with plenty of power and was tons of fun to drive. Fast forward many decades later and we now have Nissan trying its best to recapture the magic in the form of its new 2023 Z.
Nissan has done an excellent job of being faithful to the original prototype we first saw in 2020. The look of the Z is a brilliant combination of many throwback cues to yesteryear with enough modern design that meshes old with new in a very classy way.
Looking to find ways of saving weight, Nissan has made the hood, doors, and rear hatch out of aluminum. Its LED headlights resemble dinosaur eyes and combined with the front grill, has a very masculine, sporty look that also kind of resembles a look you’d see in the Pixar movie, Cars.
The Proto Spec runs on 19-inch alloy wheels as opposed to 18-inch on lower trim levels. Up front brakes are 14-inch and the rear disc brakes are 13.6 inches.
Popping up the hood, you’ll find a 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers that has a total output of 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. There is a 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters available but our test car had the preferred 6-speed manual with built-in rev-matching. Look for 0-60 times around 3.5 seconds. Its combined fuel economy rating is 20MPG.
Inside, you’ll find a snazzy, driver-centric 12.3-inch digital dashboard that has the tachometer in the center, along with a turbo-boost gauge, oil temperature, and water temperature gauges. Of course, since it is digital, you can customize it in a variety of ways.
Above the center dash, there are also three throwback-style gauges for turbo speed, turbo-boost, and voltage. The rear cargo area provides only 6.8 cubic feet of storage.
Its infotainment system uses a 9-inch touchscreen as the primary interface, and a Bose audio system is available. Unfortunately, it uses Nissan’s seriously dated-looking graphic user interface that’s long overdue for an overhaul. Support for AM/FM/Satellite radio, Bluetooth audio, and Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto are standard.
On the road, the 2023 Z is an extremely fun car to drive. It feels very connected to the road, with minimal body roll, and great tire grip, but an exhaust note that should be much louder. Putting your foot firmly into the accelerator pedal, the Z responds extremely quickly and puts you back in the seat.
To help with safety, Nissan includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, tire sensors, and front collision warning with active braking.
The Z starts at $39,900 for the Sport trim, moving up to the performance model and it jumps up to $49,990 and the Proto Spec starts at $52,990, topping out at $56,120. There’s a good chance, however, that the limited-run Proto Spec may increase in value over the next couple of decades.
In the end, Nissan has delivered an extremely fun and capable sportscar that does a lot to deliver much of the magic we remember in the original 240Z. There are a few things we’d like to see changed about the Z, however, we think much of those might be seen in a future Nismo edition.