Home Sport gear Refined and ready to fight the Supra

Refined and ready to fight the Supra

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For over 50 years, the Nissan Z has remained one of the most iconic and successful sports cars in motoring history, generating a cult following as strong as the day it shocked driving enthusiasts. in 1969. Originating from an old joint project with Yamaha in the early 1960s, the Z has gone through six generations, with the latest tying the second generation 300ZX (Z32) as the oldest series at 11 years old.

Uncertainty threatened the Z after the last generation, however. Nissan has been dealing with some corporate turmoil lately, and the automotive world is heading headlong away from internal combustion towards electrification. Simply put, Nissan has let the 370Z stagnate in a rapidly changing automotive landscape.

chris chin

2023 nissan z

chris chin

But with Toyota reviving its famous Supra, there was no way Nissan would let its legendary sports car succumb to an eternal rival. The Z now returns for a seventh generation, and it has some big shoes to fill. Often equated with the Japanese equivalent of the Ford Mustang or the Porsche 911, the Z serves as an archetypal sports car model, providing a solid foundation for not only pure sports car enthusiasts and driving enthusiasts, but also for tuners and motorsport racers.

On paper, the Z is everything as its original creators intended: two doors, rear-wheel drive, a front-mounted six-cylinder engine and a long-sloping fastback design. It’s a formula that defines the Z as an icon in the world of sports cars, the same way Porsche’s signature keeps its rear-mounted engine.

But many questions remain: Have regulations, technology and increasingly stringent consumer changes diluted the Z into just another device and a shadow of its once glorious past?

As the early spring sun set hard over the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, heightening the sting of the arid desert air, our caravan of air-conditioned NV3500 pickup trucks packed with automotive journalists arrived at its infield. In the distance, a dozen pre-production 2023 Nissan Z prototypes appeared, ready for their ultimate road and track test at the hands of some of the world’s toughest automotive critics.

2023 nissan z

chris chin

2023 nissan z

chris chin

Nissan hasn’t strayed from Formula Z

At first glance, it’s easy to think that the Z hasn’t really changed much. Nissan’s own engineers even admit that much of the base platform is shared with the outgoing 370Z “Z34”. But that’s part of its appeal, in the same way that almost all Porsche 911s look alike. The template is unmistakably preserved – indeed, this time around the designers made sure to pay more homage to the 240Z’s original aesthetic.

Dimensions are nearly the same as the 370Z, except for a few extra inches of front and rear length and a profile more reminiscent of the Zs of yesteryear. Specific details harken back to the era of the original Datsun “S30” 240Z, such as the daytime running lights mimicking the shape of the 240Z’s chrome headlight surrounds, the steeper roofline and muscular shoulder line, and a boxy rear, with taillights paying homage to the 1990s cult classic, the “Z32” 300ZX. The overall result is a sleeker, more refined and significantly sleeker exterior design than the outgoing car.

Nissan has made some key upgrades inside the Z

Stepping into the new Z is equally familiar, although the differences are all in the details. You always sit low and toasty inside the cocooning cockpit, thanks to its sloping roofline and two-seater layout. That, of course, means finding a comfortable seating position can still be a challenge for those six-footers or more, but the newer seats make it less of a chore than the 370Z.

Gone is the once unified telescoping gauge cluster that moved with the steering column, as did the bulbous center console and its recessed infotainment system. In its place, a much larger flat screen and cleaner control interface allow for a simpler layout. Three auxiliary analog gauges at the top of the console measure turbo speeds, pressure and battery charge, all of which are driver-facing for easy use and readability, and a much more consistent layout.

2023 nissan z

chris chin

2023 nissan z

chris chin

The new Nissan Z is significantly more capable

The day began testing the Z’s powertrain on a roughly quarter-mile straight just off the Motor Speedway starting gate. Two new Zs were on display – a base Sport model with a six-speed manual and a top-spec ‘Performance’ with the company’s latest nine-speed automatic – and behind it was a year-old 370Z final model for comparison.

Under the long, sloping hood is the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter VR30DDTT V6 straight from Infiniti’s Q50 and Q60 Red Sport models, but retuned and modified to match the Z’s performance-oriented personality. power is rated at the same 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the more affordable cars with this amount of pop. As a descendant of Nissan’s “VR” V6 family, it can even be loosely described as a detuned variant of the GT-R’s legendary VR38DETT, giving many Z fans the chance to brag even more about this that’s under the hood.

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But this engine features a new water-cooled intake charge cooler, which helps keep incoming air temperatures low for the turbos, resulting in quicker throttle response. The snails are mounted externally and integrated into the exhaust manifold, rather than in the valley, shortening the distance the exhaust pressure travels to keep said spooled turbos going. A new boost recirculation valve also helps maintain pressure, essentially eliminating throttle lag.

It can produce the same amount of power as the Infiniti Red Sport 400 apps, but the Z’s version feels much more responsive and energetic in its movements. Nissan hasn’t released official acceleration times, but engineers on site said the 0-60 mph dash is certainly around the four-second range for the manual – depending on the how quickly you shift – and even faster with the automatic.

2023 nissan z

chris chin

But the new Z might not be as engaging as the old one

Although much faster and more powerful than the 370Z, I found myself missing the naturally aspirated throttle response and high redline of the old VQ. This setup allows you to work for maximum engine power, an experience favored by those who prioritize driver engagement over forward progression. The engine note is unfortunately muted on the new model due to forced induction, and its noise is artificially manipulated by the car’s audio system.

But nonetheless, in classic evolutionary fashion, the new Z is much faster than the old Z – fast enough to satisfy those who want to give their A90-generation Supra friends a run for their money.

While the size and shape resemble the outgoing car, underneath it benefits from an 11% increase in torsional stiffness and is nearly 24% stiffer. And the results speak for themselves. Around a nearly two-mile closed-road course, the new Z felt considerably more predictable and less awkward than the old car, offering far more grip, high-speed stability and poise in mid-mountain. turn.

However, steering weighting and road feel – something the old 370Z had in spades – leave something to be desired after switching to electronic power steering. But it’s still very precise, with a point-and-shoot feel. Combined with the new large-diameter monotube dampers and increased caster angle, the new Z feels much more confident and agile behind the wheel, with no compromise in ride quality around town and on the highway.

2023 nissan z

chris chin

The All-New Nissan Z: The Verdict

Simply put: the Nissan Z is back. It’s faster, more nimble, newer and much improved over the outgoing 370Z. It’s an undeniably bigger car that’s more than capable of challenging the latest Toyota Supra.

But there are concessions with the refinement and modernity found. The aging 370Z felt long in the tooth, but it still had that old-school feel that the Zs of yore provided, which you’ll be hard pressed to find in the new model. Progress always has a price.

The 2023 Nissan Z

2023 nissan z

chris chin

Powertrain : 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6; six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic; Rear-wheel drive

Power : 400

Couple : 350 lb-ft

Seats: 2

Starting price: $39,990

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