Between the Toyota GR86, Hyundai Elantra N, Toyota GR Corolla, Honda Civic Type R, and Nissan Z, affordable sports cars are all the rage again. It’s no secret that a car with a purring engine that can lay down some rubber on the road isn’t exactly your practical, everyday ride, especially for anyone who has to deal with Canadian winters. For most drivers, a sports car will be an addition to a fleet that includes a more “normal” vehicle. As such, sports cars have primarily been the playthings of the rich and famous––or at least those who could afford to have several cars.
Now there is an entire flock of affordable sports cars for under $50,000 CAD, and drivers on tighter budgets can fulfill their need for speed. One of the newest and most exciting additions that will have people swarming their local Nissan dealer is the 2023 Nissan Z. It burst onto the scene of what Nissan has called “attainable sports cars” and instantly blew some of its competitors out of the water. Nissan clearly looked at some of the complaints drivers have about other affordable race cars––and even its own previous Z cars––and decided to address them head-on. Here’s what you need to know about the 2023 Nissan Z.
Nissan’s Z Cars
First off, the Z line of cars is not new to Nissan. In the 1960s, we got the original Datsun 240Z. Drivers instantly noted what a joy it was to drive and that it handled better than some of the top competitors of the time, putting brands like Porsche on notice. The Z has undergone many iterations and changes since its first release, often reflecting what was happening in the world at the time. In the 1970s, it even had velour upholstery (you can thank the Disco era for that). Over the years, it has had Japanese graphics, a roof, no roof, a slim and pointy construction, a la the Back to the Future car and many other interesting stylistic choices.
Many drivers have felt, however, that it’s been a while since the Z kept up with modern tastes, and the new 2023 Nissan Z is finally addressing that issue with an elegant and sophisticated silhouette and stunning interior. You’ll instantly notice its low stance, which looks cool and helps the car grip the ground, letting you feel in control even at high speeds. Overall, it looks distinctly European and high-end. Even the taillights boast a sexy curve, and the headlights are broken up into several LED clusters that almost look like cut diamonds. The Z is really a thing of beauty.
A Look At Performance
The 2023 Nissan Z only offers one engine, and that’s a twin-turbo V6. But, some feel that’s all it needs because that singular option kicks out 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. This engine is derived from the monstrous 3.8L twin-turbo V6 found in the legendary Nissan GT-R and has been well-proven in the highest-performance trims of the Infiniti Q50 and Q60. The choice of a smaller, turbocharged engine was intentional as it works to keep the overall weight of the car low, improving aerodynamics. It’s also worth noting that it puts out significantly more horsepower than all of the other new sports cars in its price range, so it’s already shining above its competitors.
Next, here’s a feature drivers love: a manual transmission. Many sports car fans have noticed manual transmissions are disappearing, but Nissan heard the cries. That means you can get either a six-speed manual transmission for retro lovers or a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Whichever transmission you choose, the 2023 Nissan Z is known for its rapid throttle response, so you will really enjoy the power and command you feel behind the wheel.
Real sports car enthusiasts will love that the 2023 Nissan Z gets launch control, an advanced driver-assist feature found only in performance vehicles. Unlike many cars with launch control, it is even available with the manual transmission option, not just the automatic. Put simply, this feature helps a car go from standing still to driving at top speed smoothly. How and where drivers put this to use is up to their discretion. Here’s another racetrack-ready feature: a mechanical limited-slip differential. This feature works by sending torque to the wheel with traction, and you can see how this would come in handy when reaching high speeds and taking corners with enthusiasm.
The Pretty Stuff
Okay, the interior isn’t just pretty––it’s made for performance––but it happens to be pretty, also. The performance seats are getting drivers talking. The seats are designed to really hug the driver and help you feel one with the car. They boast anti-slip material to keep your body still, even when the car is anything but, and a slide-reducing center pad for further stability. The seats are designed to “keep you upright when the roads get sideways,” according to Nissan––a nod to what sorts of tricks you might try in this car. As for the eye-catching features, the sports seats look great in every trim, but when you move up to the higher trims, you start to see leather seats, contrast stitching and suede accents that launch the Z car into luxury territory.
The Fun Stuff
When you’re driving a regular car, you want to know what your turn-by-turn directions are and maybe what the traffic report is. When you’re driving a sports car, you want to know about all of the cool stuff happening inside of your vehicle, and Nissan considered that when making the 2023 Nissan Z. Its three display pods are going to show you turbo speed, voltage and boost pressure. Meanwhile, the 12.3-inch digital dashboard can be configured in several ways, including a Sport screen that shows you all of the fun stats you’d want to see on the track, including engine temperatures, G forces, and race car-style shift lights.
Have You Always Wanted a Sports Car?
If you’ve always wanted to treat yourself to a sports car but couldn’t justify the cost, the market is clearly accommodating more drivers that are in your situation. Nobody would claim that you can take your sports car to your kid’s soccer practice or rely on it for the family road trip vehicle, so you might have felt limited to just buying a “practical” car in the past. But now that so many manufacturers are kicking out these fun and affordable sports cars, you can get in something like the 2023 Nissan Z for a reasonable price, remove some of the guilt of an indulgent purchase, and just start having some fun.
The Nissan Z car family had been overshadowed towards the end of the long production run of the 370Z generation, but Nissan really let the line have its comeback with the 2023 Nissan Z. It seems like the engineers looked at exactly what their competition is doing and said, “we’re going to do it all better.” The new Z car has an incredibly powerful engine, super fun features like a classic manual transmission and sport mode displays, and a beautiful exterior. If you’ve put aside a budget for your dream car––your “just for thrills car”––this might be the one to use it on.