Old-school folks love to complain about the onslaught of EVs, out to “ruin” things for enthusiasts. And although EVs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, it's still a great time to be an enthusiast. The market is currently ripe with sports cars and sporty coupes ranging from budget to bonkers.
On the more affordable side of things, the 2023 Nissan Z returns to classic form with a sharp exterior, solid dynamics, and the most powerful base motor in the entire class. Better yet, the stylish two-seater comes with your choice of a standard six-speed manual transmission or a nine-speed automatic, all for just $41,015 out of the box.
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|Quick Stats||2023 Nissan Z Performance|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-Liter V6|
|Output:||400 Horsepower / 350 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||4.5 Seconds (est.)|
|Efficiency:||18 City / 24 Highway / 20 Combined|
Gallery: 2023 Nissan Z Review
- Exterior Color: Ikazuchi Yellow
- Interior Color: Black
- Wheel Size: 19 Inches
It's still early in the year, so this could change, but the Nissan Z is a clear front-runner in my very unofficial “Prettiest Vehicle Of 2022” award. Nissan's designers absolutely killed it with the exterior of this car by blending retro flavors with a sleek, modern silhouette.
The rectangular grille is an obvious nod to the old Datsun 240, as are the semi-circular headlights and the “Z” roundel on the rear pillar of the vehicle. The horizontal LED taillights give off 300ZX vibes, and there's even some evidence of that predecessor in the new Z's silhouette. Drape it in an Ikazuchi Yellow paint job with a contrasting black roof ($1,295) and it's a recipe for an absolutely gorgeous vehicle.
The interior isn't bad, per se – it's just kind of bland in this spec. The iconic triple gauge cluster atop the dash is one of the few things that will catch your eye. Otherwise, variations of black leather, synthetic suede, and plastic cover every inch in this tester. Although, you can opt for bolder red and blue interior hues instead.
Obvious parts-bin pieces, like climate control knobs and center touchscreen, carry over from other Nissan products, somewhat disappointingly. And there are still obvious tinges of the 370Z in its DNA. The circular door handles are the most egregious carryover from the 370.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Nissan 370Z
- Seating Capacity: 2
- Seating Configuration: 2
- Cargo Capacity: 6.9 Cubic Feet
Sports cars, in general, don't receive high marks in comfort. And the Nissan Z is no exception; it's a bit loud on the highway and the tight suspension doesn't respond well to imperfections in the road. But more than anything, the seating position is all out of whack.
As with some other obvious carry-over parts inside, the new Z has the same seat frames as the 370Z. That means the driver's chair still barely adjusts up or down. Combine that with a telescoping steering wheel that itself doesn't offer enough movement, and a very narrow windshield – think Chevrolet Camaro levels of visibility – and you'll have a hard time getting comfortable in this car. At least the buckets on this Performance model have real leather and synthetic suede.
- Center Display: 9.0-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: Yes / No
The touchscreen inside of the new Z is relatively basic. A 9.0-inch display borrowed from other Nissan products comes standard on the Performance model, while a slightly smaller 8.0-inch screen is standard in the base Sport trim. Both employ the latest version of Nissan's logical infotainment system, which has crisp graphics, clean menu options, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. CarPlay comes with a wireless connection, but for some reason, Android Auto doesn't.
But the real interesting tech inside sits right in front of the driver; a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster comes standard across the board. It offers three different customizable settings – Normal, Sport, and Enhanced – that change the personality of the cluster with unique graphics and settings. Sport, for example, adds more readouts for things like oil temperature, turbo pressure, and more.
- Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-Liter V6
- Output: 400 Horsepower / 350 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Six-Speed Manual
The 2023 Nissan Z has 400 horsepower, which is more standard grunt than any other car in its direct competitive set, including the Supra. And this thing absolutely rips.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine borrowed from the Infiniti Red Sport family puts down all 350 pound-feet at just 1,600 RPM, and a standard limited-slip differential on the Performance model helps hurry the coupe to 60 miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds with the six-speed manual equipped. Horsepower peaks at 6,400 RPM and gives the Z ample power at the limit; high-speed highway passes are an absolute breeze in this car.
The nine-speed automatic is a tinge quicker to 60 than the manual by comparison, but even though the six-speed is quieter, it's still the more satisfying gearbox of the two (surprise, surprise). A well-spaced shift pattern, medium throws, and a nicely weighted clutch make the six-speed feel in sync with this powerful engine. And the rev-match system on this Performance model makes heel-toeing a thing of the past – you can turn it off if you want to master the skill yourself.
The new Z does put on a few pounds compared to the outgoing 370 – about 50 of them on the base manual car – because of the additional chassis stiffening. But with that, the Z feels more responsive. A quick flick of the steering wheel and the Z will attack any corner with refined grace; while the Supra and Cayman still react a bit quicker on turn-in, the Z’s fluidity makes it feel more satisfying on longer, sweeping turns. On top of that, the steering and chassis both paint a perfectly clear picture of what the vehicle is doing. The communication from the road to your fingertips is impressive.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
Every Z – even the manual – comes standard with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control. If you want adaptive cruise control on the Supra, you’ll have to pay extra. And all of those features worked well in our test, keeping the Z comfortable and composed on longer highway bouts.
- City: 18
- Highway: 24
- Combined: 20
|2023 Nissan Z Performance 6MT||18 MPG||24 MPG||20 MPG|
|2022 Audi TTS||23 MPG||31 MPG||26 MPG|
|2022 BMW M240i||23 MPG||32 MPG||26 MPG|
|2022 Porsche 718 Cayman 6MT||20 MPG||26 MPG||22 MPG|
|2022 Toyota Supra 3.0||22 MPG||30 MPG||25 MPG|
- Base Price: $39,990 + $1,025 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $51,015
- As-Tested Price: $53,210
With a starting price of $41,015 for the base model with the $1,025 destination fee included, the Nissan Z isn’t really what we’d call an “affordable sports car.” But, considering it competes against the Supra 3.0, the Cayman, and the Audi TT, it’s actually one of the cheapest options of the bunch – as well as the most powerful.
Jumping to the Performance trim like the one tested here will cost you an extra $10,000 – bringing the base price of that model to $51,015 (well short of the maximum price). And if you want things like bigger wheels, a bigger touchscreen, a limited-slip differential, and more, then the extra $10K is worth it. But even then, the Nissan Z still undercuts most of its rivals at this price point.
|Pricing||Trim Base Price||Competitivly Equipped Price|
|Nissan Z Performance 6MT||$51,015||$53,210|
|Porsche 718 Cayman 6MT||$64,850||$69,110|
|Toyota Supra 3.0 Premium||$56,650||$57,855|
The standard 400 horsepower and a relatively affordable price tag should be enough to get you to want a new Nissan Z. But even more than that, this is a gorgeous sports car with a slick six-speed manual and a solid drive experience. We’re glad the Nissan Z is back – and that it’s better than ever.
Z Competitor Reviews
2023 Nissan Z Performance