After a short hiatus, the Nissan Z car returns for the 2023 model year. Characterized by a company spokesperson as approximately 80-percent new but still based on the Nissan Z34 architecture the automaker used for the sixth-generation 370Z (2009-2020), the new Z car is not called the Nissan 400Z – despite its engine’s 400-horsepower rating. Instead, this seventh-generation, two-seat, rear-wheel-drive Nissan sports car is simply known as the 2023 Z.
What’s New for the 2023 Nissan Z?
Though its underlying platform and structure carry over from the outgoing 370Z, the new Nissan Z car substantially improves in design, quality, power, performance, and technology. Highlights include retro-modern styling incorporating cues from Nissan Z models of the past, a new interior with digital instrumentation and upgraded infotainment systems, a twin-turbocharged V6, and more driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technology than before. Also, rather than call it the Nissan 400Z in recognition of its 400-horsepower engine, it is simply known as the Nissan Z.
How Much is a Nissan Z?
As it goes on sale, the 2023 Nissan Z price range spans from the low $40,000s to the mid $50,000s, including the destination charge to ship the car from the automaker’s Tochigi, Japan assembly plant to your local dealership.
2023 Nissan Z Trim Levels and Configurations
Nissan simplifies the 2023 Z lineup, offering the car only as a coupe in two trim levels. Here are the highlights:
Nissan Z Sport – In standard Sport specification, the Nissan Z includes full LED lighting with automatic high-beam assist, 18-inch dark-finish alloy wheels, and a six-speed manual transmission with a carbon-fiber composite driveshaft.
Cloth seats feature simulated suede inserts, and the Z Sport has automatic climate control, an eight-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, and six stereo speakers.
Safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a pedestrian detection system, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. A reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors are also standard.
Nissan Z Performance – Performance trim adds Rays 19-inch forged alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, rev-matching for the manual gearbox, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, launch control, and a performance braking system. In addition to looking at the appealing wheels, you can identify a Z Performance by its front chin spoiler and rear lip spoiler.
Performance trim also adds heated exterior mirrors, heated power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and aluminum sport pedals. In addition, a larger 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, complete with wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, a Bose eight-speaker premium sound system, and NissanConnect Services, including access to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Additionally, a Nissan Z Proto Spec variant is available, but only 240 examples of this model will be available. It is based on Performance trim and comes with an exclusive bronze finish for the wheels, yellow brake calipers, and yellow accents and stitching on the seats and interior. In addition, Nissan dips every Nissan Z Proto Spec in Ikazuchi Yellow paint.
2023 Nissan Z Review and Test Drive
Test Drive QuickTakes
First appearing in the U.S. market as the 1970 240Z, Nissan put the Z car on ice between 1997 and 2002, shelving the nameplate when the bottom fell out of the sports car market. But it wasn’t long before a new fifth-generation Z arrived for the 2003 model year. Sales in the segment dipped again as the sixth generation car neared the end of its run in 2020. Fortunately, a replacement was already underway, but delays forced a short hiatus and pushed its debut to the summer of 2022 as a 2023 model-year vehicle.
The 2023 Nissan Z is as new as it gets without a complete redesign, but remains based on the same platform as the previous 370Z. In addition to its more appealing design and updated tech, Nissan infuses the Z with significantly more power at more accessible engine revs. Furthermore, a thorough reworking of the mechanical components make the 2023 Z feel like a far more sophisticated sports car than before.
For this 2023 Nissan Z review, I test-drove two pre-production examples of the Z in the Las Vegas area. The Z Performance had an automatic transmission and extra-cost paint, while the Z Proto Spec featured a manual gearbox. The Nissan Z Performance price came to $52,710 (the automatic transmission is a no-charge upgrade), and the Nissan Z Proto Spec price amounted to $54,015. These Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices (MSRPs) include the $1,025 destination charge. Nissan provided the vehicles for this Z review and paid for lodging and meals during the evaluation period.
2023 Nissan Z Review: The Design
Over lunch, I asked Nissan product planner Paul Hawson what his favorite thing is about the new 2023 Z. After careful consideration, he told me it was the car’s cleaned-up aesthetics. That’s saying something, considering the new Z’s significant increase in power.
Compare the new Z to the old 370Z, and you’ll likely agree with Hawson. Though the cars share nearly identical proportions, the 370Z’s now-dated looks are replaced with retro-modern cues derived mainly from the original 240Z and the fourth-generation 300ZX.
Up front the new grille may look plain and oversized, but is necessary to keep the twin-turbo V6 and other mechanical components cool. Look at an original 1970 Z as you imagine how it would appear without its chrome bumper and you’ll see the resemblance.
Inside the cabin, the classic three round gauges remain at the top of the dashboard, but a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel with three different themes is now standard. The dashboard is mostly new, but you can spot the old 370Z in a few places. Despite the recognizable bones, Nissan has reduced the number of buttons and knobs without compromising the user experience.
The seats in the Sport trim are wrapped in cloth with simulated suede inserts and offer four-way manual adjustment. Performance and Proto Spec versions get heated and leather-upholstered seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver and four-way power adjustment for the passenger. Ventilated seats are not available.
I found the seats comfortable during a two-hour drive of more than 100 miles, and thanks to the power height adjuster for the driver, getting into and out of the car was easier than expected. The Z’s roofline tapers dramatically from just beyond the windshield to its stubby rear deck, so ducking your head is advised.
Quality is on par with the old 370Z, featuring a mix of upscale materials and hard plastic surfaces. Nissan thoughtfully pads the center console where your legs rest and most of the cheap-looking bits are not obvious. However, each time you open a door, you’ll notice the glossy plastic on the lower door panels.
Storage space is stingy within the Z, but better than before. Under the climate controls you’ll find a tray where you can stash your smartphone, house keys, and other small items. Nissan also adds a second cupholder under the sliding center armrest. But otherwise, there isn’t much room. Cargo space in the trunk isn’t generous, either, amounting to just 6.9 cubic feet.
2023 Nissan Z Review: The Technology
Naturally, the new Nissan Z adds fresh technology to its menu, essentially bringing the model up to speed, but without debuting any groundbreaking safety features or infotainment systems. If you want a self-driving sports car equipped with controls that you can operate using naturally-spoken voice commands, this isn’t your ride.
The Z Sport has an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and six speakers that will get a workout because the Z is loud inside when driving on nearly every kind of road surface. Choose the Performance or Proto Spec, and you’ll get a 9-inch touchscreen display running the latest NissanConnect Services technology, plus wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto) and a navigation system. These versions of the car also have an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system.
The test vehicles had the upgraded infotainment system, which came with volume and tuning knobs, a row of function shortcut buttons under the bottom of the screen, a second row of virtual shortcut buttons on the lower part of the screen itself, and a display with function and information tiles that you can configure. The system is intuitive to use, and is angled toward the ceiling, making it easier to see and reference. However, keeping in mind that the test vehicles were early-build, pre-production units not intended for sale to the general public, I did have trouble with the voice recognition technology. The system responded accurately to “Find the nearest Starbucks” and “I need to go to a hospital” but could not answer correctly to any of the other queries and commands I use in every test vehicle.
The navigation system supplied accurate and helpful directions while driving in unfamiliar territory, though road noise challenged the Bose audio system. Since the speakers are using the same locations as the old 370Z, Nissan couldn’t fine-tune their performance as much as they may have wanted.
As far as safety goes, Nissan improves the Z’s outward visibility and overall maneuverability. In my opinion, sightlines over the Z’s long hood and to the rear are clearer than before, and this car is easier to see out of than a Toyota Supra. It feels less claustrophobic, too. Large side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a useful reversing camera, and new blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems make driving the Z easier and safer than before.
Additional enhancements include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. I experienced the lane-departure warning system, which beeps when the car crosses lane markings, and the adaptive cruise control, which tends to brake a little too sharply when another motorist tucks into the gap ahead.
2023 Nissan Z Review: The Drive
The price walk from the 2023 Nissan Z Sport to the Z Performance is ten grand. Unless you’re planning to use that cash to build your own tuned Z, stepping up to the Performance trim is a good idea. Let me explain.
Every 2023 Z comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine lifted from the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models. In the Z, Nissan tunes the powertrain for improved response to driver input in the Z. It makes 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque; gains of over 68 horsepower and 80 lb-ft of torque compared with the old 370Z.
Simply, the new Z makes substantially more power and much sooner after you press the gas pedal. It accelerates and sounds like a totally different vehicle, and even in Performance trim, which includes a mechanical limited-slip differential, the car’s rear end threatens to break loose with little provocation. Launch control is new to the Z, but you need Performance or Proto Spec trim to get it.
Nissan also improves the Z’s standard 6-speed manual gearbox. Now, it feels like a component that belongs in a proper sports car. Highlights include a high-performance clutch, smoother and more accurate gear changes, and, for the Performance and Proto Spec models, SynchroRev Match, which makes the car even more enjoyable to drive. Engage launch control, and you won’t need to lift your foot off the go pedal while running the Z through the gears.
If you’d prefer not to operate a clutch pedal, a new 9-speed automatic transmission is a no-cost option. It includes paddle shifters (from the Nissan GT-R) and a Sport mode and provides both better fuel economy and, according to Nissan, the quickest acceleration times. In my opinion, it’s not as much fun even when you elect to drive the car using the paddles.
Other Z Performance and Proto Spec improvements include 19-inch forged aluminum wheels with lower-profile, staggered-width 255/40 front and 275/35 rear Bridgestone Potenza S007 performance tires, and a set of larger brakes with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers.
My driving experience started in a Z Performance with an automatic transmission. The engine’s ability to make the rear wheels feel greasy while gathering speed made itself evident immediately. In addition, while some fans might miss the signature sound of the 370Z’s VQ-series V6, the new twin-turbo powerplant adds a satisfying soundtrack of its own, lending the new Z a more sophisticated and refined personality to go with its improved design and interior.
As I’ve mentioned, road noise permeates the cabin and, depending on the road surface, can overwhelm the Bose audio system. It may have interfered with my voice recognition system testing, too. It is the least enjoyable thing about driving the new Z.
Otherwise, the car impresses based on my experience traveling the roads Nissan selected for the drive. Thanks to its new rack-mounted electric steering, the wheel feels lighter and more responsive in your hands, and a 10.8-percent improvement in torsional rigidity combined with better tires improves corner turn-in and driver confidence. Even the ride quality, though taut, doesn’t beat you up over time.
However, I need to qualify these observations because the prescribed driving route presented no challenges that a Nissan Rogue crossover SUV couldn’t tackle with ease. I had to simulate hard braking and sharp, sudden turn-in to get a sense of the car’s responsiveness and stability when driven with enthusiasm.
Furthermore, the pavement was utterly smooth and unbroken with properly banked curves, so it remains to be seen how the new Z might perform on a typical lumpy mountain road with off-camber twists and decreasing radius turns. Neither did the route tax the Z Performance’s braking system. All I can report concerning the brakes is that they’re extremely sensitive, and there is an acclimation period when driving in traffic.
Later in the day, I switched to a Z Proto Spec with a six-speed manual transmission for a short 45-minute drive spent almost entirely on Las Vegas surface streets snarled with traffic and construction. Even in this environment, it was clear that the manual is the way to go if you love to drive. It might not deliver the fastest acceleration or the best gas mileage, but it does give the driver a better command of the twin-turbo V6 and a more engaging driving experience.
Speaking of gas mileage, Nissan’s fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg in combined driving with the stick shift and 22 mpg with the automatic could be on the low side. I averaged 22.5 mpg with the manual gearbox at an average speed of 29 mph and 27.5 mpg with the automatic at an average speed of 42 mph.
Maybe I didn’t rev the engine hard or often enough.
Is the 2023 Nissan Z a Good Car?
Based on my initial drive in the redesigned 2023 Nissan Z, this is a good and proper sports car. Though it has a handful of flaws, I like it quite a bit, and it presents a strong argument for consideration compared to a Toyota Supra, the only direct rival it faces based on price, equipment, and performance.
Nissan Z Competitors for 2023
The new Nissan Z price range ensures that the Sport trim faces few direct rivals. For example, the Hyundai Veloster N, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota GR86 cost less than a Nissan Z Sport, but they’re not nearly as powerful. Meanwhile, the BMW Z4, Jaguar F Type, and Porsche 718 Cayman command premiums of $10,000 or more.
So, what are the 2023 Nissan Z car’s competitors? Of course, the Toyota Supra is one model most people will undoubtedly cross-shop. However, the new Nissan Z could also attract people who might otherwise consider a Chevrolet Camaro or a Ford Mustang.
Nissan Z Features
The legendary Nissan Z gets a new lease on life with a thorough update that improves every aspect of the car’s design, performance, and technology. The result is an undeniably appealing two-seat sports car.
2023 Nissan Z Safety Features
- Intelligent Forward Collision Warning – Standard feature senses two cars ahead, warns the driver of a possible collision
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection – Standard feature
- Blind Spot Warning – Standard feature warns the driver when other vehicles are in the Z’s blind spots
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert – Standard feature warns the driver when other vehicles are approaching from the sides while reversing
- Lane Departure Warning – Standard feature warns the driver when the Z drifts out of its lane
2023 Nissan Z Technology
- Digital instrumentation – Standard 12.3-inch display screen
- Infotainment system – Standard 8-inch touchscreen and an available 9-inch touchscreen
- Smartphone connectivity – Standard Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
- Connected services – Available NissanConnect Services, including Wi-Fi access*
- Navigation system – Available feature*
2023 Nissan Z Specs
- Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
- 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque
- Six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission
- Rear-wheel drive
- EPA fuel economy ratings: 20 mpg (manual) and 22 mpg (automatic)
2023 Nissan Z Interior
- Automatic climate control – Standard feature
- Cloth seats – Standard feature
- Leather seats – Available feature*
- Heated front seats – Available feature*
- Premium sound system – Available eight-speaker Bose audio system*
*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections