For many of us, the first generation 1970 Datsun 240Z is the grail Z car, with its timeless design and proportions. It weighed just 2,300 pounds and was powered by a 2.4 litre inline-six cylinder engine that revved to 7,000 rpm. Its 151 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque was sent to the rear wheels by a 4-speed manual transmission. It took around 8 seconds to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) from rest.
The 2023 Nissan Z has gained about 1,100 pounds since 1970. All of its performance specs are up too. Powering the 2023 Z is a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 engine generating 400 hp at 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque from 1,600-5,600 rpm. This Z is almost twice as quick as the 240Z accelerating from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in about 4.5 seconds.
This seventh generation two-seater is the first Z car without a number in its name. Prior models included the 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z and 370Z. The 2023 Z would be a 300Z because it has a 3 litre engine. All of the previous model names reflect the engine displacement, i.e., 240Z had a 2.4 litre, 280Z had a 2.8 litre, etc.
The 2023 Z interior layout is similar to the 370Z’s but it feels like everything has received a well-deserved overhaul. The materials and displays have all been upgraded. The all-new 12.3-inch digital display gauge cluster looks thoroughly modern and is fully customizable to suit each driver’s preferences. Three gages are mounted on the dash displaying boost pressure, turbo speed and the volt metre. Below the gages is the new 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system that works well.
And that old-school handbrake is ready, willing and able to be cranked up to initiate empty parking lot drifts on snowy days.
ON THE TRACK
The new Nissan Z felt right at home lapping the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 2.88 km/1.79 mile Driver Development Track. The Z is a lot of fun to drive on this compact and twisting track which is located about an hour northeast of Toronto, Ontario.
The steering wheel and its paddle shifters with Downshift Rev Matching are a pleasure to use as you work your way up and down through the 9 gears. Lapping with the 6-speed manual with its SynchroRev Match rev matching may have made our track time even more engaging and rewarding.
The silky smooth 400 hp engine, which is also used in the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, has plenty of power at the high-end, and lots of torque down low. It makes a lot of noise on the track, more noise than you might expect, but we’ll take that over quiet electric motors any day.
As one would expect, the front engine rear wheel drive layout makes this performer nice and tail happy, when you want it to be. And after you’ve hung the rear-end out and arrive at the next corner, the 14 inch front vented discs and 13.8 inch rear vented disc brakes do a good job of scrubbing off speed. They are quite sensitive and would hopefully survive a full track day without too much fade. The red brake calipers look great behind these black rims. Yellow brake calipers are also available.
The 19 inch Rays Superlightweight rims with Bridgestone Potenza S007 255/40R19 up front and 275/35R19 in the rear provide plenty of grip. Confidence builds with each lap of the track. This new Z also performed well through the slalom course with very responsive steering. This is not a race car but it is a fun performance sports car on the track.
2023 NISSAN Z SPORT & PERFORMANCE PRICING
Adds SynchroRev Match, Mechanical LSD, Nissan Performance brakes, and Red brake calipers
Ikazuchi Yellow Two-Tone/Super Black exterior paint is a $950 CAD option.
If you are in the market for a 2-door sports coupe, a test drive of the 2023 Nissan Z is a must. It has nice throwback design cues of the Datsun 240Z up front and the Nissan 300ZX in the rear. A good looking and fun performance car that is well deserving of your consideration.
Photography By Nissan, TrackWorthy and OneWord