2023 Nissan Z Review: Relatively Affordable, Lots of Fun | Expert review

The front suspension uses a double-wishbone design, while the rear has a multilink setup. There are new monotube shocks, and the Performance trim cars we took on the street and track get larger 19-inch forged-alloy wheels and staggered tires instead of the base Sport trim’s 18-inch alloy wheels and square tire setup.

The Z is a firm-riding car that lets you know when the pavement is anything less than perfect, but the mostly smooth roads of southern Nevada prevented us from getting a clear picture of how that taut ride quality will translate to the pockmarked and potholed roads we regularly see near Cars.com’s Chicago headquarters. We’ll know more once we test one closer to home, but the firm tuning made for a fun-driving car that felt completely at home on the winding desert roads outside Las Vegas. Though the roads we traveled were pothole-free, they weren’t perfectly smooth, and the result was considerable road noise in the cabin at moderate speeds.

Nissan made some lead-follow laps available on a road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex, and it was just as entertaining in this setting. There’s noticeable but not excessive body roll when taking tight corners quickly, and the car stays on the line you set. The capability of the automatic-transmission Z is apparent here, too, as the car adds speed quickly. Other than upgraded brake pads, Nissan said the cars on the road course were stock.

An Overhauled Interior

The cabin gets an all-new design that incorporates more tech features. Sport trims come with an 8-inch dashboard touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, while the Performance variant has a larger 9-inch screen and adds navigation. Both trims have a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel that replaces the previous car’s analog instruments. Some design elements have carried over, though, like the three-gauge pod atop the dashboard and the circular air vents in the doors.

Despite the new design, the Z’s interior feels familiar, with the sightlines and driving position similar to the 370Z’s. I’m about 6 feet tall, and while there wasn’t a lot of extra space in the cabin, I didn’t feel cramped or claustrophobic, either. The steering wheel now telescopes in addition to tilting, making it easier to tailor the driving position to your liking, and I had enough headroom and legroom.

I particularly like the Z’s sport seats. The seats in the Sport trim have cloth upholstery and manual adjustments, while the Performance model gets leather trim, seat heaters, power adjustments and different side bolsters. Both the cloth and leather-trimmed seats have large suede-style inserts that firmly grip your backside and do a good job preventing you from sliding around in the seat — even on the track.

Storage areas include pockets in the doors and nooks behind the seats. The revised center console also now includes a second cupholder. Lifting the rear hatch reveals a decent-sized cargo area.

Safety and Driver-Assist Features

Standard safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beam headlights.

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Should You Buy the Nissan Z?

With a starting price around $41,000 (all prices including destination), the 2023 Z delivers a lot of driving fun for the money, and the price is the same whether you get the six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic.

Stepping up to the Performance trim, however, brings a significant $10,000 price increase: This model costs $51,015. That’s still less than a six-cylinder Supra’s base price, but the extra $10,000 seems like a lot of money for the Performance model’s extra features. In addition to the aforementioned upgrades, the Performance trim gets larger brake rotors, beefier brake calipers, a mechanical limited-slip differential, front and rear spoilers, and a Bose premium stereo.

For some shoppers, the Z’s available manual transmission could have tipped the scales in its favor compared with the Supra, but Toyota’s high-performance sports car will also offer a manual beginning with 2023 models.

While both of these sports cars are powerful and have impressive performance-oriented automatic transmissions, I’d take the Z because it felt more composed overall in a track environment, the interior fits me better, and I prefer its styling. All in all, the Z is more enjoyable to drive, and with these cars, that’s what matters most.

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