For car people, anticipation for a new vehicle is very much like the anticipation a child has at Christmastime. Especially if that car is the new 2023 Nissan Z. And even MORE especially if that car is the rumored Z Nismo. That’s right, those whisperings you’ve heard from your local Nissan dealer—whom you bribed for information—were not in vain. There has been a sighting in Japan of what we can pretty confidently call a Nismo of the new Z.
Of course, Nissan would be foolish not to give the Nismo treatment to its replacement of the 370Z. After all, former Nismo specials include the GTR—which, lest we forget the worlds of Top Gear’s James May, was the fastest car off the line…in the world.
As with the Toyota GR Supra and Ford Bronco, Nissan is bringing back the iconic Z, wrapped in the clothes of an all-new sports car set to launch this summer. We’ve read the commentary, and now we get to see the Z with our own eyes. What we see looks sleek, modern, and fun.
To keep up the excitement for what a Nismo treatment would mean for the Z, I’m going to take a stroll down memory lane into Nismo’s legacy—so that we can see why a Z Nismo would be so special. Plus, I’ll update you on what to expect from the new Z. I suspect you already know, but I’ll tell you again: You’ll want a drool pan. Trust me.
First, though, I’ll address the rumors. Some time ago, a video uploaded to YouTube by the user R Gelan showed what appeared to be a new Z. It seemed to be undergoing racetrack testing in Japan. Judging from the footage, this is not a normal production Z. There’s a massive rear wing and a restyled bumper, along with what appear to be carbon fiber front fenders and a carbon fiber hood.
Though the footage is a touch on the grainy side, there’s no denying that we’re looking at the rear end of a Z. The long, rectangular tail lamps, the Nissan badge in the center—and, not to mention, the giant Z badge on the right-hand side. It looks like a car that could very easily rival the Supra, and it has an almost Alpine quality to it. (The Alpine is a French sports car, for those of you not in the know. Not available for sale in the States, I’m sad to say.) Anyway, back over to our Japanese friends.
What We Already Know About the Z
Keeping in mind that the Japanese have dominated the American auto market for decades, one can see the appeal a Z Nismo would have to the sport driving enthusiast. Of course, unless you live in a climate that allows for year-round sports car use and have easy access to a racetrack—or roads that you know aren’t frequently monitored by the authorities—you won’t really push the Z for all its worth.
From press releases and coverage, we know that the engine powering the Z is Twin Turbo V6, estimated to make 400 hp. This is a version of Infiniti’s Q60 Red Sport engine. At 3.0-L, this V6 is an aluminum alloy block with 24 valves, a special intercooler, and an optical speed sensor that brings turbine speed up to a staggering 220,000 rpm. Not to mention, this is mated to that purest form of automotive enjoyment: a 6-speed manual transmission with short shifts and a new first and second gear synchronizer—for optimum power off the line.
The Nismo Treatment
So, with all that power behind this nimble little vehicle, what exactly is there for Nismo to improve on? Well, we can expect an even more powerful engine. The outgoing 370Z Nismo had an upgraded engine that produced 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque, compared to the standard V6’s 332 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. That’s the main thing we can expect from the Z Nismo: an upgraded engine. We can also expect upgraded suspension, interior and exterior styling, brakes, and chassis.
Throughout its history, Nismo, a contraction of Nissan Motorsport, has pushed the performance standards of Nissan to the limit. Teamed by world-class engineers and racing drivers, Nismo-badged cars are designed and tested to perfection—in everything from aerodynamics to throttle feel to steering, braking, etc. Each Nismo undergoes design by a team of drivers and engineers who love driving, using endless data spreads to pinpoint exactly what the Nismo “feel” is supposed to be. And that “feel” is inspired by nearly 90 years of racing development.
Originally branded as Datsun, Nismo—as we know it today—was born in 1936. At that time, Nissan began racing, beating out the enormous foreign cars with their plucky little fighters. The innovation continued from there. A Nismo Nissan conquered the Australian continent in 1958, surpassed a Porsche and took the lead in the 1964 Japan Grand Prix, won countless SCCA titles in America during the ’70s, dominated touring car championships in the ’90s, won 24 hours of Daytona in 1992, and won 3rd place at Le Mans in 1998.
This is the heritage all Nismo-treated Nissans derive from—an excellent history of racing and winning that has made the badge name so special. Nismo still makes motorsport headlines to this day, and at one time offered a wide variety of road vehicles with Nismo upgrades, including the Nissan Juke, of all things. No, it’s clear that whatever Nismo may do to the new Z, it’s going to be fantastic.
How the Z Will Be Different
So, what else can we expect from this invigorating new car from Nissan? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Now, this is a completely new car. As every generation of the Z has been, this 7th iteration is a complete redesign and total departure from the generation before it. It shares next to nothing in common with the 370Z: not styling, interior, engine…nothing.
Nissan has taken a fair amount of criticism over the years for its lack of variety and the exceedingly long generational lives of their cars. Just look at the Frontier pickup truck, if you want an example. We’ve been with the current model since 2009—once again making it long overdue for a refresh.
However, I should point out that, when it comes to their sports cars, Nissan takes great amounts of care to ensure their long life spans. After all, they put so much into creating them. Nissan takes years to develop and hone every sports car. That’s what happened with the GTR, and it’s what’s happened to the Z. The design process for the new Z launched in early 2021, with Nissan announcing the new Z’s production in August of that year.
Though it shares the same platform as the outgoing 370Z, the upgrades in design and function do in fact make this 7th generation its own unique vehicle. All 2023 Z’s are set to come with the following: new mechanical limited-slip differential for better power distribution; launch control—a first for the Z line—designed to hold the engine at a preset rpm, while eliminating hop and tire spin; an available 9-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters; electric power steering; monotube shocks; and new brakes with 14” front rotors and 4 piston calipers.
So, if you’re as excited as I am—and I bet that you are—it’s more than worth your time to consider reserving a Z. They are guaranteed to sell out, and with the wait on new cars at an all-time high, you may not want to miss trying out the exciting new sports car from Nissan. Now, I do ask that you dispose of all that accumulated drool properly.