Two turbochargers, two seats, a manual transmission, and plenty of furious driving.
Nissan is finally updating its inexpensive sports car after 12 years. Nissan’s seventh generation Z-car, now simply known as the Nissan Z, pays respect to the automobile’s rich heritage while also providing drivers with a contemporary sports car that makes driving pleasant and exciting.
The Z’s power begins behind the hood. The 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 from the luxury-branded Infiniti Q50 Red Sport powers the all-new coupe. This alone adds 68 horsepower to the 3.7-liter naturally aspirated engine of the previous generation.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is at the heart of the platform, a feature that drew applause from the audience when Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta presented the car live on stage on August 17. A nine-speed automatic transmission is also available, and both have optional launch control, which allows for steady acceleration from a stop without wheel hop or traction loss.
The Z will be available in at least two trim levels: sport and performance. The car’s standard configuration is the sport trim, while the performance trim adds larger wheels, bigger brakes, and a dual exhaust.
Inside, the vehicle is a big improvement from the 2010s’ harsh plastics and effervescent appearance. Three driver-focused analogue gauges will display data such as boost pressure (which shows the amount of positive pressure produced by the turbochargers), battery voltage, and turbo speed. However, there are still a few carryover elements in the inside (such as the climate control knobs, door handles, and many switches for the windows, door locks, and seat controls) that hint at how Nissan was able to produce the car at such a low price point.
The outside of the automobile, as contemporary as it appears, is where the Z’s pedigree is clearly visible. Long, sloping hood lines and broad rear wheel arches are evocative of its forefathers, while the headlights are modelled after an early Z-car and the taillights are reminiscent of the iconic 300ZX.
A half-century of performance engineering has gone into the new Z.
Because of its predecessor, the Datsun 1600 Roadster, the first Z vehicle was associated with some of the world’s most renowned European roadsters. The 1600 was designed to compete with vehicles like the MGB and Triumph TR6, and Nissan saw it as the start of their sports car history. This roadster experiment eventually prompted Nissan to develop an inexpensive sports vehicle that would appeal to the general public: the first Z-car.
The Datsun 240Z was originally released in 1970 and marketed in the United States under the Datsun brand. It was a huge success. The rear wheels were powered by a 151-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-six engine, which was more than adequate for a 2,300-pound rear-wheel-drive sports coupe. Granted, it wasn’t a Trans Am, but it was a glimpse of automotive excitement during a period when the US auto industry was controlled by domestic manufacturers.
Nissan had changed the image of the Z-car from an agile sports coupe to a big touring automobile by the end of the 1970s oil crisis. Despite many design and power failures over the next decade, as well as a renaming from Datsun to Nissan, it battled to maintain its image.
Imports had their heyday in the 1990s. The Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and rotary-powered Mazda RX-7 had all been pitted against Nissan’s fourth-generation Z vehicle, the 300ZX. With a 300-horsepower 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 and all-wheel steering, the 300ZX was a powerhouse. The car’s handling around a bend and 5.0-second dash to 60 mph were complimented by drivers.
Nissan reintroduced the 350Z in 2003 after a seven-year sabbatical, but the car met the same fate as the 280ZX: it was heavier and slower than its predecessor. Years later, the 370Z was developed, solving the weight and power issues while also reducing the 0-60 mph time from 5.5 seconds to only 4.7 seconds.
Even as a big tourer, though, the new Z appears to be free of Nissan’s long-standing flaws. Its power output has been considerably boosted, the design has been refined, and a row-your-own gearbox is still available for consumers who seek a truly engaging driving experience.
Some details, such as the 0-60 time and weight, are still unknown to Nissan customers. Hiroshi Tamura, Nissan’s Chief Engineer who also oversees the GT-R programme, has stated that the Z will be a “dance partner” that doesn’t chase statistics but instead creates a pleasurable interaction between driver and machine.
The redesigned Z will be available in dealer showrooms next spring as a 2023 model. And, best of all, the sports coupe is shaping out to be just as much of a performance value as its predecessor, with a starting price of roughly $40,000.