While Nissan's origins date back to the early 1930s in Japan, the automaker waited until 1958 to venture to America with the debut of the Datsun. A decade later, Nissan turned heads when it unveiled the Datsun 240Z in the heart of New York City in 1969. Like so many other innovations from Japan, the 240Z set a new benchmark in the automotive industry and ignited a legacy that we see continued in the 2023 Nissan Z, which is taking American roadways by storm.
Nissan's original 240Z wasn't built from spectacular materials, nor was it visually astonishing. It was built to "bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible - a car built for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts." It was a sports car built from Datsun parts, but it was somehow better and more enjoyable to drive. This transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary pushed competitors to do the same, and the sports car industry was suddenly laden with better, higher-performing cars. Nissan, as expected, followed suit and introduced the 260Z and the 280Z along with luxury models like the disco-inspired 280ZX that boasted T-tops and velour upholstery; it was the 1970s, after all.
The Z's transformation from velour-fitted luxury rider back to its roots finally occurred in the 1990s and early 2000s with models like the 300ZX and the 350Z. Fun to drive and incredibly fast, these models introduced Nissan's sports car to a new generation of drivers and set a new standard for speed, handling, and sheer power. These models also set the stage for the future of the Nissan Z and ultimately laid the foundation for the 2023 Nissan Z that promises so much more than you could ever imagine from Nissan's legendary nameplate.
To appreciate just how much power the 2023 Nissan Z delivers requires understanding just how far the sports car has come. Nissan's 1969 240Z, which was known as the Fairlady Z in Japan, was powered by a 2.4-liter engine that was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. This combination delivered 151 horsepower and gave the sports car enough power to launch from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. This was remarkable for a civilian sports car in the 1960s.
The 2023 Nissan Z overshadows its predecessor in all the right ways. The Z is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo that's mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers 68 percent more horsepower, 30 percent more torque, and 15 percent faster acceleration from 0 to 60 mph. This translates to a jaw-dropping 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The Z's 6-speed manual transmission puts you in sync with the car by giving you a physical connection to the car's power and more control over how it performs. This is courtesy of an EXEDY high-performance clutch and a shifter that seamlessly glides into gear with a light touch. The new 9-speed automatic transmission doesn't require any intervention from the driver, but that doesn't hinder the Z's performance, thanks to a wider gear ratio and a launch control system that optimize the Z's handling. You can even switch over to manual shift mode and use the paddle shifters if you're looking for a little more input and control over how the Z performs.
You'll also find that the Z comes with two drive modes when equipped with the 9-speed automatic transmission. Standard mode is ideal for the highway and your daily commute, while Sport mode unlocks the Z's full potential. Sport mode adjusts the steering, acceleration, and other components to deliver more responsiveness, faster acceleration, and greater stability, whether you're cruising down a long stretch of highway or navigating a winding back road full of tight turns and steep descents. Sport mode puts the Z in its natural element and satisfies its need for sheer speed.
The original 240Z took the ordinary Datsun and made it extraordinary, which is a legacy that you'll see firsthand on the stunning 2023 Z. Commanding attention from every angle, the new Z features a long front hood and a lower stance that makes it more aerodynamic. From the side, the Z's silhouette pays homage to its namesake with its squared-off rear that sits lower than the front, which was a unique trait to the 240Z of the 1960s. The 2023 car's half-circle LED lights not only enhance your visibility and add to the Z's modern aesthetic, but they're also a nod to the Japanese 240ZG of the 1970s.
Nissan reduces the Z's weight by outfitting the sports car with a lightweight aluminum hood, doors, and hatchback. You can add side sill spoilers, a front chin spoiler, and a rear spoiler as well. Beyond these upgrades, the Z's color palette for 2023 is truly unique with three monotone exterior colors - Black Diamond Metallic, Gun Metallic, and Rosewood Metallic. Its two-tone exterior color palette has even more to offer and combines six unique colors, each paired with a Super Black roof. These options include Boulder Gray, Brilliant Silver, Everest White Pearl TriCoat, Passion Red TriCoat, and all-new Seiran Blue and Ikazuchi Yellow.
Inside, the two-passenger Z is both vintage and modern with its 240Z-inspired details and 21st-century touches. The sports seats fit you and your passenger like a glove, which means a comfortable ride through every corner. This design is inspired by the Nissan GT-R and features suede upholstery to reduce body movement and add stability even when you're hugging a tight corner. Aside from the suede, you'll find manual seats outfitted in black woven cloth in the Sport trim, while the Performance trim adds power heated seats with leather upholstery along with lumbar and thigh support for maximum comfort.
Beyond its seating, the Z's details and convenience features are truly remarkable and seamlessly blend the Z's heritage with modern technology. The center stack is inspired by the 240Z with its three analog gauges that show you the boost, turbo speed, and voltage. This nod to the Z's namesake contrasts with a suite of modern conveniences that includes push-button start, a digital instrument cluster, and a center touchscreen infotainment system that includes a premium audio and navigation system, all of which were beyond the world's imagination in the 1960s.
The 2023 Z continues the legacy of the 240Z but adds a host of new technology that puts everything you need at your fingertips or within eyesight. The Z shows us just how far technology has come since the 1960s. Nissan spares no expense in equipping the Z with the latest technology starting with the 12.3-inch customizable display behind the steering wheel that puts all the data you need like speed, driver alerts, and navigation cues in a clear view behind the steering wheel. The display is fully customizable with three modes - Normal, Enhanced, and Sport -all of which offer a unique view for your driving needs.
Normal Mode outfits the center display with vehicle data, navigation, and audio cues. Enhanced Mode prioritizes navigation by moving the speedometer and tachometer to the edges to display a larger map and navigational data. Finally, Sport Mode is focused on performance and puts the tachometer front and center along with shift information.
Moving to the center display, you'll find an 8-inch or 9-inch touchscreen display with or without navigation, depending on trim. The display is home to Nissan's infotainment system and NissanConnect Services, giving you access to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and equipping the sports car with a Wi-Fi hotspot. Other features include an available premium Bose audio system, active noise cancellation, active sound enhancement, SiriusXM Radio, a Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System, and voice recognition that allows you to issue simple commands without having to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.
The Z's technology also extends to include its suite of safety and driver-assist tools that work behind the scenes to make your time on the road safer and stress-free. Aside from standard airbags, Nissan equips the Z with a wide range of tools, including a vehicle security system and a tire pressure monitoring system, the latter of which alerts you when your tire pressure is low. Intelligent Cruise Control improves upon traditional cruise control by monitoring the flow of traffic ahead and adjusting the Z's speed as needed. Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection monitors for potential collisions and can bring the Z to an emergency stop, while Blind Spot Warning watches the sides of the vehicle and Rear Cross Traffic Alert watches the rear for obstacles and crossing traffic. Other tools include Lane Departure Warning that helps you keep the Z in its lane, and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning.