Nissan is about to make a comeback. Here’s how it feels to drive on the road in the latest sports car.


Nissan has been going through tough times over the past four or five years. Former NissaN CEO Carlos Ghosn was arrested in 2018. The business was struggling with an aging product lineup where Ghosn focused on vehicle sales rather than consumer excitement. The company’s chief designer, Alfonso Albaisa, said last year that he was “disgusting.” Even Hiroto Saikawa, who was Nissan’s then-CEO, said that in 2019 the company “rock bottom.”

However, Nissan is making a comeback with new vehicles such as the new Pathfinder and Rogue SUV. With a focus on style and excitement, Z promises to be a sort of spiritual center for that revival effort. Creating these new cars with a line reminiscent of Nissan sports cars of the past has helped strengthen the company, Albaisa said when unveiling the new Z last year.

I recently had the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat for hundreds of miles on highways and winding back roads. The new Z has proven to be a surprisingly good long-term companion, offering true comfort on long, tedious stretches, but also excitement when the road invites in.

once a year, 3 out of 4 brothers have a classic car and gather somewhere driving for several days. I join them as often as possible. I had been planning for months this year to meet them in a small town in the northwest corner of Maryland. Just a week before Airbnb bookings started, I got an email from Nissan that one of the prototypes, the Z, is available for test drive, but only on weekends. that weekend.

Sometimes things line up perfectly.

The nose of the new Nissan Z is reminiscent of the original 240Z.

Soon, I drove I-95 towards Baltimore and turned west into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Z was a comfortable cruiser with a spacious interior for two and plenty of cargo space. But the first thing I noticed was that the diameter of the steering wheel was oddly large for a sports car. Also, it didn’t provide as much road feel during highway driving as expected from a sports car.

Still, it had enough power. Z’s 400bhp turbocharged V6 loves to run fast and feels better as it spins. We had to work to make sure we didn’t hit the 7,000 RPM limit in first gear. Because I loved running so much that it seemed to be pulling the car faster. My car had a 6 speed manual gearbox with a nice gearbox. A 9-speed automatic is also available.

When I parked in the driveway of an Airbnb in western Maryland, my brothers came out to see Z. We agreed it was a great design that captured a classic feel in a modern form. The front end, with a pointed nose and rectangular grille, clearly resembles the 240Z from the early ’70s. The tail lights recall the blunt backlighting of the 280ZX and 300ZX much later.

on the road

We spent Saturday watching a vintage car race across the river in West Virginia at Summit Point Motorsports Park. On Sunday we went to Shenandoah National Park to drive the famous Skyline Drive, which winds through the mountains.

LR: Peter Valdes-Dapena with 2023 Nissan Z;  Mark Valdes-Dapena holding a Triumph TR4, 1964;  Jonathan Valdes-Dafena;  Andres Valdes-Dapena and his 1964 Jaguar Mark 2;  Dan Valdes-Dafena;  Carlos Valdes-Dapena and his 1970 Triumph TR6.LR: Peter Valdes-Dapena with 2023 Nissan Z;  Mark Valdes-Dapena holding a Triumph TR4, 1964;  Jonathan Valdes-Dafena;  Andres Valdes-Dapena and his 1964 Jaguar Mark 2;  Dan Valdes-Dafena;  Carlos Valdes-Dapena and his 1970 Triumph TR6.

The Z felt at home, and it steered better in curves than I expected. Short shifters made shifting gears on manual transmissions quick and easy. Pressing a button near the shifter activates rev-matching technology, which automatically matches the engine speed to the gear you select for smoother shifts. I preferred to leave it alone.

Z swept the curve and flew in a straight line. At road speed, the car’s weight was well-balanced and the driver’s seat felt like it was right behind the car’s center of gravity. The V6 made a fantastic sound every time I got a chance to sprint, and as the turbocharger’s buzzing power increased, I was drowned by the roar of my internal combustion.

The Nissan Z Performance I was driving was about $50,000. The cheapest version of the Z, the Z Sport, is about $10,000 less expensive, but with the same engine and transmission choices as the car I drove. (The markup dealer will almost certainly add to this sticker price.) As I was parking at the overlook, someone who said she had just ordered a Toyota Supra asked me which one was better. It’s been a while since I last rode the Supra, so it’s hard to say. Toyota also recently added a manual transmission as an option to the Supra to make the situation even more uniform. Z easily wins, at least in terms of style. I think.

The tail light design of the 2023 Nissan Z is also inspired by its predecessor.The tail light design of the 2023 Nissan Z is also inspired by its predecessor.
A few years ago I did a similar trip with a Chevrolet Corvette with more horsepower and an engine behind the seat like a supercar. The cost also adds up to over $10,000. The Corvette delivers amazing performance, but the simpler Z has been a better long-term companion and it’s easier to imagine driving it every day.

While Nissan prepares for its next big leap with the launch of its first electric SUV, the Ariya, the Z is welcome. With an internal combustion engine, sharp handling, and a relatively accessible price, it’s rekindling the kind of excitement that can take Nissan and us all far beyond the horizon.

.

Leave a Comment