Today we’re looking at the exciting all new Nissan Z sports car … a real masterpiece of retro-engineering. This new model leverages the best Z design elements rewinding 50 years of rambunctious road manners.
The original Nissan Z was more than a legendary sports car. The first 1970 240Z, then still bearing the Datsun badge, was very much the milestone of a massive shift in generational taste and lifestyle choices.
Before our younger TV viewers do a mass eye-roll and groan “OK Boomer” … rest assured the classic Z probably had a lot to do with how many of you all turned out.
In 1969 when the original Z car was first previewed … the youth market was the Woodstock Nation of hippies driving VW Beetles and Microbuses. Within a year the sexy, sporty and amazingly affordable Z-car turned the heads of many young people and suddenly the Hippies became Yuppies … and the rest is history.
Packing the power of a new Twin-Turbo 3.0-liter 400 horsepower V6, this next gen
Z is exciting because the Nissan product and engineering teams focused on what we all loved about the Z cars.
The Z was sleek and real hoot to drive especially in the original manual edition. It was also the first time a Japanese car company broke out of the econo-box mold that made them successful in the US market.
The long front hood, short rear deck fastback profile, even more pronounced in the earliest Z models, has morphed into an athletic arched profile that gives this sports car ready-to-run appeal. The exterior of the new Z is clean and smooth without extraneous character lines to visually simulate sporty intentions.
Up front simple backswept recessed oval LED headlamps flank a somewhat controversial rectangular grille that has been presented as a total black hole and more various patterned and reflective features.
The newest Nissan Z is offered in two trims, the Z Performance with Manual Transmission, and the Proto-Spec Z with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
While preparing to test drive the proto-type of the Z out into the desert near Las Vegas back in May, a guest at the hotel came out to the staging area and was clearly having the reaction that Nissan planners had hoped for.
Hearing the modest $41,000 base ticket of the new Z, and the $53,000 premium sport model pricing … the smitten car guy wondered out loud if paying nearly twice the price for his exclusive European rig was worth it?
To compete with higher-end sports cars, including the acclaimed BMW based Toyota GR Supra, Nissan has done an especially attentive job inside. The sport seating looks really sharp and is very supportive as the driver puts the Z through its paces.
A 9 inch touchscreen is command central for a suite of navigation, climate control, connectivity and vehicle systems information.
When it comes to performance, the new Z makes the most of updated standards to a fundamentally solid sport coupe platform. The result is a Z car that drives with similar personality features that have carried through its 50 years on the road.
Astride 19″ RAYS super lightweight forged alloy wheels the performance suspension setup of the new Z is a very traditional double wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension, with front and rear stabilizer bars. And to handle fast and furious cornering a 2-point front strut tower brace is a distinct advantage. For stopping power Nissan performance brakes do the honors with red brake calipers peeking through the wheel spokes.
Browsing through the features offered in the two trim levels, the Z Performance with Manual Transmission, and the Proto-Spec Z with a 9-speed automatic, the blending of design and engineering is quite clear.
For example manual trans equipped new Z models come with a rev-matching feature
— first introduced back in 2008 as exotic racing tech – allowing the driver to optimize downshift power and control.
And like many of the newest modern muscle car offerings with advanced automatic transmissions, the Z offers launch control for the full drag racing experience.
And while the Manual Transmission version of the Z makes it a super fun retro ride, oddly due to some California noise standard testing anomaly, the automatic is the one with the more powerful throaty exhaust sound on acceleration.
While the new Nissan Z borrows the Infiniti Red Sport 400 horsepower engine, it does not offer the all-wheel drive format, again enhancing the nostalgia of old school rear wheel powered action. We can expect Nissan Motorsports engineering and design group will add an AWD edition up the road.
Maybe there will even a Z convertible someday soon … signaling better economic times.