2023 Nissan Z review – manual & auto (video)

Josh Bennis

The new Nissan Z has arrived and this time it’s got two turbos sitting down the sides of a smaller displacement, 3.0-litre V6 engine. The styling is spectacular, although it’s not too far removed from the 370Z it replaces.

It’s great to see a car company still producing rear-wheel drive sports coupes. That’s the one thing you think of when you walk up to the new Z; this type of motor vehicle will likely soon be a thing of yesteryear. And for now we’re damn glad it’s here.

Starting from $73,300 for either the six-speed manual or nine-speed auto (excluding on-roads), the new Nissan Z sits below its biggest competitor, the Toyota GR Supra, by around $13,700. But is that for a reason? Let’s find out.

2023 Nissan Z manual – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
Output: 298kW@6400rpm / 475Nm@1600-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 19×9.5, 255/40  R: 19×10, 275/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1556kg
Power-to-weight: 5.22:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 10.8L/100km
Economy during test: 11.9L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 62L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 27.59kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.95 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.20 seconds*
0-200km/h: 16.99 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.30 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.51 seconds at 180.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.895g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.03 seconds at 39.67 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.232g*
Decibel at idle: 45*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 88*
Priced from: $73,300[/column][end_columns]

2023 Nissan Z auto – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
Output: 298kW@6400rpm / 475Nm@1600-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 19×9.5, 255/40  R: 19×10, 275/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1589kg
Power-to-weight: 5.33:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 9.8L/100km
Economy during test: 10.6L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 62L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 30.40kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.61 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.69 seconds*
0-200km/h: 14.54 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.72 seconds*
1/4 mile: 12.80 seconds at 186.4km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.889g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.05 seconds at 39.52 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.256g*
Decibel at idle: 46*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 88*
Priced from: $73,300[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2023 Nissan Z – THE PACKAGE

The cabin is very snug and everything falls at your fingertips, even for tall people. That said, good luck fitting a helmet on if you’re tall and intend on going to a track day as the ceiling quickly swoops in. We also took a while to find a good driving position, partly due to the awkward power seat controls on the inside of the seat, but also due to the oddly tilted-forward seat. You will eventually find the right fit, though. Just keep fiddling and you’ll get there.

As per the usual with a two-seater sports car, practicality is limited. But for this segment, the centre console is a good size and features a cup holder and a centre box, with door pockets ensuring decent everyday practicality. Boot space is measured at only 241 litres, which is less than the GR Supra (280L) and the Ford Mustang (408L). But it is quite wide, and the liftback tailgate makes it easy to toss items in.

Up on the dash is an updated version of Nissan’s older 8.0-inch touch-screen multimedia system, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It fits in with the style of the Z nicely we think, however, the 12.3-inch full digital display with multiple modes (tachometre, speedo, boost gauge) really lets you know you’re in a 2023 model. This is arguably the best step up the Z has over the 370Z in terms of cabin tech.

Other interior features include heated front sports seats with leather-accented trim in either black or two-tone red and black, Active Noise Cancellation and Active Sound Enhancement, and a rear camera and front/rear parking sensors to make sure you don’t bump into anyone or anything when parking. These latter features come in handy as it can be a bit hard to see out of in tight spots given the rather tight glasshouse.

2023 Nissan Z – THE DRIVE

The 298kW/475Nm V6 offer is quite a lot, but to drive you’d think the power rating was taken at the wheels – it feels seriously quick (provided you can get traction). The engine is sharp and offers maximum torque from just 1600rpm, and it soars hard in the top end. We clocked 0-100km/h in just 4.69 seconds in the auto, and a best of 5.20 seconds in the manual. Better yet, the auto crossed the quarter mile in just 12.8 seconds, and covered 0-200km/h in an incredible 14.54 seconds.

We did notice a surging sensation during hard acceleration, and the on-board boost gauge tends to fluctuate. We don’t know if it is designed like this on purpose for efficiency. A commenter on our YouTube video (embedded below) suggested it is a torque target control unit adjusting the boost to maintain torque and mechanical sympathy.

Compared with the previous generation’s naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6, the new twin-turbo motor really hauls when you stick the boot in. And we think it does sound more appealing, with a beefy undertone, particularly during the lower parts of the rev range. A bi-modal exhaust, at least as an option, would be a good addition.

We tested both six-speed manual and nine-speed auto versions for a week-a-piece and each car, while technically almost the same except the gearbox, the way the two cars behave on the road when pushed couldn’t be more different. There’s something about the manual, and the on-and-off power during gear changes that upsets the stability of the car, which is even worse if you’re tackling a series of bends.

The auto, while still a touch loose in the rear, seems to stay more stable due to the smoother transition of power when shifting, and more ratios so it is not such a big jump between speeds.

Which brings us to traction. If traction isn’t an issue for you, you’ll love the Z. It almost feels a little old school, in that it scampers for traction at the best of times and if you’re not ready it can catch you out. As said above, it’s a lot less noticeable with the auto than it is with the manual, but nonetheless it doesn’t possess the traction or stability levels of the Toyota GR Supra in our opinion. Although, it is more refined than the Ford Mustang rival.

The manual shift is quite clunky, and if you really try to shift swiftly the gearbox will just say, ‘nope, not today’. Perhaps it was just the test model we drove (which has been on the press fleet being punted around by handfuls of journalists). Once you fully learn and understand its operation it is quite a nice package to cruise around in, and it’s fun blitzing through traffic, in any gear mind you, when desire calls.

The suspension is quite relaxed and can cope with touring just fine. We did a trip from Sydney to Canberra via some backroads along the way and it was a pleasant experience, from the ride quality. The steering is also sharp enough to be sporty, but not overly sensitive to interrupt its fast and flowing feel. This is the environment where we think the Z is in its prime, rather than tackling really tight and technical sprints.

In terms of fuel economy, the manual offers an official average of 10.8L/100km and the auto is rated 9.8L/100km During our test we witnessed 11.9L/100km in the manual and 10.6 in the auto.

2023 Nissan Z – THE VIDEO

2023 Nissan Z – THE VERDICT

Despite this car not having the best traction and maybe the engine doesn’t sound as amazing as it could, it is definitely one of those cars that puts a spring in your step every morning. It’s like, ‘I get to drive that very cool coupe today’. And if I want some grunt to feel like I’m alive, it’s right there under your foot.

We also think Nissan has done an outstanding job on the design. It was always going to be difficult to recreate an icon for the modern age, but this is just perfect we think. It attracts a lot of interest on the road and everywhere you go, and the colour options are schmick.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Great design, blends retro and modern
– Really forceful and powerful engine characteristics
– Auto is the better point-to-point blast
– The fact a manual option exists is awesome
– Decent pricing, in between Mustang and GR Supra
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Rear end traction and stability could be improved
– No adaptive dampers (could fix concern above) or bi-modal exhaust
– Not as quick as less powerful Supra[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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