Nissan Z 2023 Review

We are in the midst of a car renaissance, with names and badges like Supra, Bronco, Defender, and now Z being brought back from the dead in an effort to boost sales. Over the course of its existence, Nissan has produced over 1.8 million Z models, 53,000 of which were exported to Canada. We believe that this new seventh-generation Z pays the proper degree of homage to its forebears, including the 240Z and 300Z, whilst being infused with retro-modern aesthetic cues. Although the square grill on the front end leaves us unconvinced, we find the rear design to be eye-catching, unusual, and the angle that really sells the car in our opinion. The analog dashboard gauges that show the boost pressure, turbo RPMs, and battery voltage pay homage to its DNA in the interior as well.

The spec sheet is eye-opening, though, and only tells half the story as the appearances do. 400 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, manual transmission, and a starting price around $50,000 If it doesn't persuade you to take a test drive, I don't know what will. It will certainly cause those considering purchasing a Ford Mustang GT, Toyota Supra, Volkswagen Golf R, or MINI John Cooper Works to rethink their decision.

The new 370Z, unlike the previous model, is equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine that is also featured in the related Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. It has two transmission options: a 6-speed manual or a new 9-speed automatic, which takes the place of the previous 7-speed automatic and produces 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Although the Z only has rear-wheel drive, it offers more than just power. The same platform as the 370Z was used by Nissan, but the torsional rigidity was increased by 10%, the front tire width was increased for more grip, the caster angles were increased for better steering feel, and the monotube shock absorbers were replaced with twin-tube shock absorbers for a more fluid response from the suspension and better impact absorption.

To familiarize ourselves with the new Z, we had the opportunity to drive a few rainy laps around Circuit Mont-Tremblant, which is tucked away in Quebec's Laurentian Mountains, as well as explore the winding roads surrounding Mont-Tremblant. We alternated between the automatic and manual transmissions, and every car we tested was in the Performance trim.

This engine's refined and smooth power delivery has always been acclaimed in the Infiniti applications, and it is the same here. You drive it substantially differently than you did with the 370Z because of the 68 horsepower and 80 lb-ft more power. Maximum torque is available as early as 1,600 rpm, so you don't need to exert as much effort to get the Z up to hellish speeds. It revs rapidly, has minimal turbo lag, and no longer requires extreme RPMs to maximize acceleration. For these winding back roads, 400 horses is the ideal number, and it completely crushes and eats up the straights. Before you realize it, you've arrived at the following corner. It has an excellent engine. In actuality, the Z's smooth straight-line speed and powerful brakes that bring it all back make it feel like a miniature GT-R.

Not to mention how great the Z's exhaust sounds. It's neither as mechanical and raw as a GT-audio R's or as hushed as a Q60's howl, but it is considerably more interesting and vibrant. When you rev it up, you can hear a high-pitched bark that is more distinctive than a Supra or Golf R. Its vocals actually grunt, and the intake noise is strong and recognizable.

The 9-speed automatic transmission, which costs $1,500 more than the manual but is a fantastic companion for those who like a more comfortable driving without all the extra footwork, is what we began out with in the Z. Although the automatic consistently keeps the needle in the center of the torquey powerband of the V6, upshifts are sluggish, especially when manually rowing with the paddle shifters. If you're going for the 7,000 rpm redline, you should engage the paddle at roughly 6,500 rpm for it to match up because you have to shift a second before you actually want the gears to move. It also annoyably rev hangs, making it even more challenging to fix. Conversely, downshifts are snappy, swift, and are followed by an obnoxious exhaust roar. Overall, it's not as seamless as the dual-clutch in the Golf R or the 8-speed ZF in the Supra, and you do give up a little bit of driver involvement compared to the manual.

If you want everything the Z has to offer, get the 6-speed manual. The gearbox has been improved to manage the additional torque and is similar to the previous 370Z model. At times, we mistook second for fourth since the gear shifter still violently shakes at idle, brushing the dust off your fingers. It also still feels notchy and hazy when rowing through the shifting gates. However, once it is in the slot, it is solid, so you really need to pound it through on purpose. Nissan has added an upshift indicator, just like on race cars, to help you shift precisely. It's one of the few times we felt like we were shifting more quickly than with the automatic variant.

We can attest that the Z's engine is its best feature, but the suspension and ride are a close second. The Z can dance on uneven roads without getting unsteady since it is well-balanced and flexible enough. The roads in the Mont-Tremblant area were far from smooth; they were filled with bumps and potholes, which continually scraped the Z's undercarriage. Nevertheless, the Z handled vertical oscillations beautifully and didn't lose confidence during leisurely blasts at high speeds.

Midway through our drive, the skies let loose a torrential downpour that gave us the opportunity to witness the full potential of the Z's newly discovered mechanical grip. We were impressed by the Z's road-handling prowess and road compliance. Even in the rain, it remained firmly rooted and solid. Turning off the traction control (TC) resolved that problem and really allowed this rear-driven platform to shine. Of course, adding some throttle mid-corner would cause the tail to eagerly swing out, and we found the traction control too intrusive for our tastes, bogging the engine down violently when it detected the tail stepping out too much. Imagine it as a GR86 with more power, slightly more precise steering, and exceptional power and performance combined with reassuring sureness of footing.

The pace car was slow and erred on the side of caution due to the slippery track from the Nissan Sentra Cup Race the day before and the bad weather, but we were allowed a few circuits of the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in a lead-follow arrangement. We therefore avoided the slick curbs like the plague but were unable to experience the Z when it was completely lighted up. Possibly next time. But from our brief introduction laps, we could say that the Z displayed tremendous track promise. Although we're sure a NISMO version will fix that, it could utilize somewhat stiffer dampers to lessen some of its body roll and better control its weight transfer during faster corners.

The price is, once more, the most important development. One of the greatest deals in the performance car market, the Sport variant with the manual transmission starts at $46,498. The usual 400 horsepower should be sufficient to persuade the majority of purchasers to make a purchase, but if people only cared about raw power, we'd all be driving Dodge SRTs, wouldn't we? Fortunately, the new Z offers greater substance and doesn't require a track to fully appreciate its possibilities. We believe we are living in a new golden age of the Z due to its comfortable ride, modern cabin, and snappy manual gearbox.


  • Model: 2023 Nissan Z Performance
  • Paint Type: Izakuchi Yellow
  • Base Price: $59,998
  • Price as Tested: $60,948
  • Wheelbase(mm): 2,550
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,380 / 1,845 / 1,315
  • Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6
  • Horsepower: 400 hp @ 6,400 rpm
  • Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1,600 - 5,600 rpm
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
  • Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.3 / 8.6 / 10.6
  • Tires: Bridgestone Potenza; 255/40WR19 front; 275/35WR19 rear

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