For the first time since 2008, the automotive world has been introduced to a new member of Nissan’s Z-car lineage. The all-new 2023 Nissan Z ditches the numerical nomenclature of its predecessors and promises to be the best-performing iteration of the nameplate yet.
The new Z has some stiff competition. If you’re in the market for a front-engine, rear-drive, two-door performance car, the Z is just one of many machines you might consider. We’ve compiled some information on how the Z stands up to every sports coupe on the market today.
A Potent Powertrain
As had been suggested for months, the Z is powered by a twin-turbocharged DOHC 3.0-liter V-6 engine—specifically, Nissan’s VR30DDTT motor, found in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60. In the Z, this engine will crank out 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
That’s pretty much neck-and-neck with the 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque you get in the Toyota Supra. The Supra also utilizes a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder, though the Toyota’s B58 engine is an inline unit, sourced from BMW.
Both cars are overshadowed by the BMW M2 however. Thanks to that car’s turbocharged 3.0-liter N55 inline-six, the M2 packs 405 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
The Z’s 400 hp may be enough to embarrass the likes of the 181-hp, 151 lb-ft Mazda MX-5 Miata, and it handily outstrips the 2022 Toyota GR 86, which got a healthy power boost to 228-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. But it’s not quite on par with what Detroit offers. The Mustang GT packs 460 hp from its 5.0-liter V-8, while the Chevrolet Camaro SS produces 455 hp from its 6.2-liter V-8. The Dodge Challenger R/T is good for 375 hp with the 5.7-liter Hemi, while the optional 6.4-liter 392 V-8 brings 485 hp for only a bit more cash.
A Proper Gearbox
Power output only tells part of the Z’s story. Thankfully for the sports-car faithful, Nissan has decided to offer a standard manual transmission in the new Z. Nissan says the close-ratio six-speed gearbox has been specifically designed with sporty driving in mind. The clutch is an Exedy high-performance unit, and active rev-matching and a launch control system are standard.
The addition of a manual is always welcomed in today’s automotive market, and represents a distinct advantage over the Supra. In fact, the Supra is the only vehicle we’ve discussed so far that does not offer an H-pattern gearbox. If you prefer two pedals, Nissan will also offer the Z with a nine-speed automatic with paddle shifting. Customers can even spec the paddles from the Nissan GT-R as an option. How this gearbox compares to the Supra’s eight-speed automatic transmission will have to be seen.
As we all expected, the new Z will arrive with a suite of performance hardware on deck. That starts with the suspension, double wishbones up front and multi-link in the back. The system is bolstered with a front strut-tower brace and large diameter hollow stabilizer bars at both ends. The suspension itself seems to be a step up from the Supra, which uses a strut-type front suspension. The Supra also employs a multi-link rear, and both cars come with four-piston brake calipers. The Z has an optional Nissan Sport Brake package with 14-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rears. The GR Supra, by comparison, packs 13.7-inch front rotors and 13-inch rears.
The Z will also be available with a mechanical limited-slip differential, whereas the Toyota’s limited-slip is electronically controlled. That should help the Nissan feel a bit more old school than some of its competitors, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Besides, the Miata has retained a mechanical LSD differential into the current decade.
Further bolstering the car’s performance, the Z will also be available with Bridgestone Potenza S007 performance tires, an upgrade over the standard Yokohama Advan Sports, but not quite the same level as the Supra’s Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
Similar Size, Similar Price.
The Z itself is relatively close in size to the Supra, which means it’s quite a bit smaller than the American alternatives. The Nissan’s wheelbase measures in at 100.4 inches, with a total length of 172.4 inches. The Supra has a much shorter wheelbase, just 97.2 inches, but measures the exact same overall length. The Z is 72.6 inches wide and 51.8 inches tall, while the Supra is 73.4 inches wide and 51.0 inches tall.
As with size, the Z runs close to the Supra on price. Nissan tells R&T that the new sports car will start at around $40,000, though exact pricing and details won’t be be available until Spring 2022 when the car goes on sale. For reference, the Supra starts at $43,190 with the 2.0-liter inline-four, though you need to pony up $51,540 to get the 3.0-liter six. That’s a large gap in pricing and performance, and one that may make the Z more attractive to sports-car buyers. Of course, not everything is priced like the Toyota. The MX-5 starts at just $26,830, while a Challenger R/T Scat Pack is $41,070.
So it seems like the Z sits right in the middle of the pack—a viable stretch option for Miata and GR 86 buyers, a more affordable alternative to the Supra and the V-8 muscle cars. That in itself makes the Z the kind of vehicle we’ve been waiting for.
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