2023 Nissan Z is Both New and Not

BROOKLYN, NY — The 2023 Nissan Z is here. And it’s dropping the numeric nomenclature.

That’s right. Just call it Z.

Nissan says in its press release that the seventh-generation car rides on an “all-new” platform, not the current FM platform, but a PR rep told me the platform is carryover, with the car being 80 percent “all-new.”

Underhood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that’s rated at 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. That’s 68 more ponies and a 30 percent increase from the previous torque figure (270, for those who’d rather not do the math). Nissan claims a 15-percent improvement in the 0-60 mph time. You might notice those power numbers match up to the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. In fact, the engines match spec for spec, if you catch my drift.

The turbos themselves are small diameter with a turbo speed sensor to make sure they’re working at max spooling speed. The engine also uses electronic variable valve timing for the intake valves.

Save the manuals types can rejoice and/or rest easy, as a six-speed stick is standard. Hallelujah, indeed.

A launch-control system is available with the stick and standard if you opt for the nine-speed automatic. The manual is also available with a carbon-composite driveshaft and a rev-matching system. The automatic, of course, offers paddle shifters. It also has a Sport mode. Presumably, the manual creates its own Sport mode.

Nissan claims the car has a more-rigid (giggity) body than before, and wider available front tires help improve grip. The steering is electronically-assisted rack and pinion.

Monotube shocks that are larger in diameter than before are mounted to both the front and rear. These are meant to keep the ride from being too stiff while also allowing the car to handle like, well, a sports car. The front suspension is double-wishbone and made from aluminum. It offers up new geometry, including an increased caster angle. There’s also a front strut tower brace. Out back, the independent aluminum multilink setup also has new settings.

The shape is familiar yet modern and includes flush door handles and LED rear taillights. Those taillights are part of a rear lighting setup that is meant to evoke the Z of the mid-’90s. Upfront, the LED headlights are meant to pay homage to the 240ZG from the 1970s.

Two-tone and monotone paint jobs are available, and Performance-trim models add a rear spoiler.

The new-meets-old theme carries over inside, with three analog gauge pods across the top of the center stack, an 8-inch infotainment screen, and small details that imply a sense of sportiness. Details such as the redline on the tach being at the 12 o’clock position. A digital gauge cluster offers three different customization modes, including a Sport mode that prioritizes information like the tachometer or a G meter.

Standard features will include keyless entry and starting, smart cruise control, USB, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and satellite radio.

There will be two trims — Sport and Performance. Available features on Performance will include navigation, Wi-Fi, and Bose audio. That trim will also offer a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, 19-inch wheels, Bridgestone Potenza high-performance tires, upgraded brakes, dual-exhaust, and heated seats.

A limited-edition (240 units) Proto Spec model will have yellow-painted brake calipers, bronze-painted 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, leather seats with yellow accents, suede and cloth door trim, and unique interior stitching.

As much as we’d love to see the Z be an elemental sports car that goes back to basics, this Nissan will be saddled with all the driver-aid tech we’ve become accustomed to. So that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, and intelligent forward collision warning.

The Z appears to blend modern design with retro touches nicely. That only matters so much, though. What really matters is what happens on the road — and on the track.

If Nissan gets that right, the Z could make a stronger statement about the brand than say, the new Pathfinder. The kind of statement Nissan needs to make.

We’ll see if the car lives up to its looks. For now, we find the update to be worth the (very long) wait.

[Images: Nissan, © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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