2023 Nissan Z (car review)

Nissan, with its new Z hero, are winding back the clock to the age of pure sports cars. A time before track munching SUV’s and super saloons. A time where sports cars had one purpose: driving pleasure.

At first glance, the signs are there; the long bonnet and simple nose features reminiscent of the 240Z, the short boot and taillight cluster, taking aesthetic cues from the 300ZX, the underpinnings of the 370Z.

Nissan has taken the best of the previous generations, redefined them, and built the ultimate resto-mod. The end result is a wonderful homage to the history of Z, that is pure automotive art. What’s more, it’s available in manual and auto, and we’re testing both.

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But it’s what drives the new Z model that makes it stand out from the crowd. To add caviar to the Sushi, there are two turbos. Nissan are no strangers to a twin turbo V6 platform either so you know it’s going to be impressive.

The beast under the hood is a 3.0-litre powerplant punching out 298kW and 475Nm. Fuel consumption comes in a 10.8-litres/100km for the manual and 9.8-litres/100km for the auto.

2023 Nissan Z (auto)
2023 Nissan Z (auto)

There are sensors on the turbo shafts which allows them to run a much more responsive boost setup, without needing to run large fail-safe numbers as well. In short, knowing the spin cycle means more precise boost inputs.

What this translates to on road is an engine that can run an overtake manoeuvre like a V8 would, without shifting down a gear. It enables wheel spin on call, even with 275 rear tyres and means a seat push that rides almost the entire RPM range.

This gives the Z a sporty punch out of corners with a sensational GT like feel when cruising up a freeway or around town. The dividing factor between the two variants (aside from the limited edition Proto) is the 6-speed techno savvy manual or the 9-speed automatic.

The manual gives the car a character that is nothing short of phenomenal, but the power on hand also means you need to treat the Z with respect, else you’ll be left with some pretty bald tyres.

The aggressiveness of the manual gear changes at speed are animalistic, and that’s with the traction control on. Switch on Sport mode, and you get launch control, auto blip down shifting and if you’re into it, throttle hold on up shifts.

2023 Nissan Z (auto)
2023 Nissan Z (auto)

That’s especially handy for those drag runs on a Wednesday night at the local dragstrip. The auto is a whole different ball game. The smooth gear changes give the car a much more settled feel, enabling you to reach high speeds effortlessly.

You barely ever make it into the top two gears in everyday driving situations. Push it though, and you unleash that same aggressive nature the manual offers, albeit with a little extra effort required.

Put the boot in and there’s a bit of a clunky lag as it finds its way to power. Like the manual, there’s a Sport mode, which again provides launch control. There is an extra transmission cooler as well, with a temp reading to ensure it stays hunky-dory on track.

Launch control is stunning in the auto and really allows you to extract the most get up and go, with no loss of traction. If it has a downside, it’s that it’s less aggressive than the manual, but makes up for it in sheer speed.

Both are so well put together that you won’t be disappointed whichever one you choose, but we did love the manual. That aside, some have labelled the Z a little soft when it comes to the suspension setup, but we’re going out on a limb to say that’s a wrong call. 

dash
Inside the 2023 Nissan Z (manual)

When comparing the Z’s standard coil and damper setup to say the Toyota Supra‘s BMW spec adjustable coil and damper configuration, the Nissan is definitely different, but it could well be a blessing in disguise for Australia.

The Z has a really nice turn in at the nose and while there is a little bit of body roll from the weight, it’s a really good balance for the tough pothole-filled roads that we are stuck battling with. Hit some rough stuff, and the suspension absorbs it brilliantly.

It doesn’t rattle the car or your mind loose and we reckon for that fact alone, Nissan has got it right. Feedback through the steering wheel is good too, although there’s room for improvement. It certainly has life though.

Tech wise, there’s wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a great Bose sound system, and digital instrumentation. You won’t find a phone charger though, and the infotainment software is a little basic (think updated 370Z level), especially when compared to rivals.

In Sport mode, the cluster shows an extra boost gauge although there’s a real one in the triple dial setup in the centre stack of the console. It’s a strange oversight that could be replaced with useful information, like average fuel usage.

dash2
Inside the 2023 Nissan Z (auto)

In terms of safety, there’s adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and parking sensors. The rear parking camera is a godsend as it’s difficult to see out of pretty much everywhere when reversing.

The interior is tailored specifically for the driver, with high window sills and short glass height adding to the traditional sports car feel. The bucket seats provide excellent support, hugging your lower back, which is particularly good through corners.

The half electric/half manual adjustment on the seats takes some getting used to, but once you find your groove, it’s easy enough. There’s plenty of leather and Alcantara, and it all feels very comfortable.

Buyers have some choice when choosing their interior, with black, or black and red on offer. The latter is definitely more stylish, although we’d love to see the blue trim that was offered in the US available here too.

Boot space in the Z is 241-litres, which is enough for an overnight bag for two people, but not a whole lot more. Much like the 370Z, the boot floor sits rather high and really puts all your belongs on display under the glass fastback boot lid.

boot
Inside the 2023 Nissan Z

Available in nine colours, you can choose from Rosewood Metallic, Diamond Black Metallic and Gun Metallic as standard whole of car colours. The remaining options have a Super Black roof and include Brilliant Silver, Seiran Blue, Passion Red and Everest White.

You can also opt for Ikazuchi Yellow and Boulder Grey, with the last of these our favourite colour (which we’d pair with the black and red interior). In a cool move from Nissan, both the manual and auto cost the same, with $81,375 an indicative drive away price. 

We’ve mentioned the Supra as one potential rival, but it’s hard to discount the Ford Mustang as well. The Toyota is significantly dearer, and while the pony car has rear seats and a V8, it is very similar in price to the Nissan.

Rumours abound a NISMO Z is on the horizon, and if Nissan goes the whole hog and adds a bevy of performance bits, rather than just cosmetics, it could certainly knock its Japanese rival off its perch.

This writer would love to see a Targa or T-Top version too, but the car’s chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura (or Mr GT-R as he’s affectionately known) has already confirmed that simply won’t happen.

2023 Nissan Z (manual)
2023 Nissan Z (manual)

Overall, the 2023 Nissan Z has been stunningly executed from the ground up. It is a true call back to the halcyon days of the traditional sports car. The buzz that surrounds it is infectious. Heads turn as you drive past, and conversations start up at the service station.

That reaction alone is a testament to the icon that is, and continues to be, the Z. You can find out more on the Nissan Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our test vehicles were provided by Nissan Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Nissan Z, in either manual or auto, contact your local Nissan dealer. Selected images provided by MilaniMedia.

As the Nissan Z is a genuine 2-seater, no Family Friendliness rating is provided below.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
9
Exterior styling
9
Interior look and feel
9
Technology and connectivity
7
Value for money
8

SUMMARY

Pros - awesome exterior design; excellent powertrain; comes in a manual.
Cons - exhaust is too quiet; tech is pretty basic. 
Dylan Swan and Lucas Hemingway
Dylan Swan and Lucas Hemingway
Dylan and Lucas have a love for all things adventure and anything with wheels. They're especially passionate about cars.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> awesome exterior design; excellent powertrain; comes in a manual.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> exhaust is too quiet; tech is pretty basic. 2023 Nissan Z (car review)