By Cars.com EditorsMay 16, 2022
About the video
We took the 2023 Nissan Z for a first drive on the track and roads of Arizona. Watch our video to see what we think about the updated performance car from Nissan.
It's not every day we get a chance to drive an all new sports car, especially with the way electric vehicles and SUVs are increasingly ruling the automotive world. But we have one here in the 2023 Nissan Z.
We've already reported on the car when it debuted, but now we're here in Las Vegas with the first chance to get behind the wheel and see what it's like to drive. (engine revving) The new Z shares its platform with the prior generation 370Z, but it's been heavily modified. And that's really apparent when you look at the exterior styling of the car. There's still the long hood, short rear deck look that the Z is known for, but it has more retro influences. But rather than taking say one of the prior gen Zs and modernizing it, Nissan has picked different aspects of Z cars throughout the eras and brought that to this car. You can see it in the front where the headlights and the grill really recall the first generation Z. And as you move around to the back of the car, which has taillights that really evoke the look of the 300ZX model. So all versions of the Nissan Z are powered by a twin turbocharged three liter V6 engine, and it's rated at 400 horsepower and 350 pounds feet of torque. You can choose either a six speed manual or a nine speed automatic, and there's no upcharge for either one, it's your choice. And after driving the Z on an acceleration run, straight line small road course on the street, the main takeaway for me from the power train is just the improved level of refinement of the engine over the outgoing 370Z's naturally aspirated engine. This V6 is really smooth revving, and it's also really powerful. The other thing that really stood out is that now that it's turbocharged, you have a much wider torque band. It's available much lower in the rev range than the prior engine. And you really feel that on the track when accelerating outta corners and also when we are doing the straight line acceleration. You don't have to rev it as much just to get impressive power. We also got to drive both manual and automatic transmission versions of the Z. And in the prior 370Z, the take rate for the manual was between 30 and 40%, Nissan was saying. They are thinking it could be a little higher with this car, but the manual, it's good. The clutch pedal is really light. So it's not gonna wear out your left leg. The shifter itself has nice short throws with a nice mechanical feel. But as is the case with a lot of performance automatics now, it really unlocks the potential of the turbocharged V6. And the automatic is incredibly quick shifting, and it just knocks off gear changes when accelerating in a way that a driver of a manual just can't keep up with. So that performance capability of the automatic is really apparent. And it also includes a launch control feature, if you really want to extract the most power from the V6. It's pretty easy to engage with a left foot brake and holding back the paddle shifters and just waiting for the launch control icon to show up, and then floor it and you go. And it's, you're left with the tires really trying to kind of get all the traction they can as you accelerate. The Z has a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear setup. And it now has monotube shock absorbers and an electrically assisted power steering system, instead of the previous 370Z's hydraulic steering. And the wheels and tires differ depending on whether you get a sport or an up level performance trim level. The base sport model has 18 inch wheels and tires, while the performance version gets 19 inch forged aluminum wheels. So out on the street, the Z is a firm riding car. It lets you know when roads are anything less than perfect. You feel bumps and grooves. And I think for a sports car though, that's a good thing. You want that level of communication. And it doesn't stray into harshness that I was noticing, though we're out here in Nevada where the road quality is pretty good overall. Steering with the new electrically assisted system is good. It's still relatively light, but it has good on center feel and kind of good motions as you turn the wheel. It's very direct, and both the ride quality, the firm tuning, and the steering tuning, they worked well on the track. It was a fun car to throw around through the corners, and it also stayed comparatively level. So Nissan really gave the cabin of the Z a thorough makeover, even though some of the aspects of it will seem familiar. And those include things like the sight lines are still similar. The seating position will still seem familiar if you've been in the previous car. But Nissan gave what the Z really needed, and that was a thorough update to the car's technology and materials quality. And you can see it on the dash. You can get either an eight inch touchscreen or an available nine inch screen that includes navigation. And the car now has a fully digital instrument panel that's configurable with different views. So you have a choice of seat material when you choose the Z. There's either the cloth seats or the leather seats that this car has. But what I like Nissan has done is that even if you get the leather seats, there's still a lot of suede material on it. It takes up the whole center portion of the seat, and that's really useful to kind of keep you situated in place when you're driving on a track or just driving more aggressively. It really grips you well, and it compliments the side bolstering of the seats. The new Z is scheduled to arrive at Nissan dealers in summer 2022. The base sport trim level has a starting price right around $41,000, but the performance version is $10,000 more, starting right around $51,000. For more information and photos on the new Z, check out cars.com. (upbeat music)