Here's a good read on 2023 Nissan Z pricing and what it is like to drive one, from ZCCA executive director Chris Karl.
The new Z pricing is now "official" and permitted for release! My super-secret pinkie swear has been honored to talk about pricing and experience driving the new Z (that commitment expired at 12:01am this morning).

In 2017, talks about a successor to the Nissan 370z occurred between myself and others on the annual Enthusiasts Japan trip (known for 20+ years as the “Z CraZies” trip – started by Mad Mike Taylor out of Texas). I was more than pleased that Nissan wanted our inputs and honored to be part of the storyline.

That annual trip represents the dedication of the grassroots Z community to help foster relationships between international Z Clubs and also with Nissan. Several of us are honored to have (or have had) friendships with Yutaka Katayema (father of the Z car), Yoshihiko Matsuo (Design Team Lead for the first Z – the Datsun 240z), Toshio Yamashita (Designer for the mid-90’s 300zx) as well as current folks involved in the new Z effort.

To be forthright, Nissan faced a serious challenge for bringing a new Z to market. Some believe it was just financial (“bean counters” pushing back on a sports car when SUVs and electrification were hotter commodities), but the other issues were political as well with a changing of the guard occurring (you may have caught some of that in the news over the past couple of years).

The community has been part of Nissan's product launch since day one and those conversations leveraged the historical perspective from our members as owners...as well as enthusiasts. There were philosophical debates as well as functional/practical ones... How about hybrid? What “if” if were able to be electric? Should it really be offered with a manual or would an automatic be accepted? Should the new car be (240z or 300zx Z32) reboot…or perhaps be something entirely different altogether?

Most enthusiasts know the back-story about the history of Katayama-san working behind the scenes in the late 1960’s to bolster support for Nissan to launch a sports car to compete on a global scale. The Datsun 240z was just that and racing teams like Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) proved it’s place as a disruptor to everything (yes, everything) at the track in its class. In the latter portion of the 1980’s, another disruption was in the works with Z morphing towards a powerhouse with design to match. Yamashita-san led the design charge as the chief exterior design task for the 300zx Z32. “Dr. No” (as Yamashita-san was dubbed) would not settle for anything less than his vision of a low and wide stance and technological design cues that were a departure from earlier ‘80’s Z-car styling. That effort paid off with yet another market-defining shift with Nissan's 300zx Z32.

…Fast forwarding the story to 2018 as ZCON efforts were underway for it’s 25th anniversary return to Atlanta, GA. Nissan asked for input from the Z community on the new Z project. Their market research efforts included the ZCCA (Z Car Club Association) loyalists at the event and early design concepts were shared as was the philosophical discussions on “what” the new Z should be. I believed, along with a few others, the results would come back heavily focused on a 240z retro reboot and we weren't far off. There certainly was a lot of feedback nodding in that direction. What also transcended conversation and split the interest (almost 50/50) was that it should have heavy influence of the 300zx Z32 as well…yet carry forward recent bodylines of the 350z and 370z. Nissan took notes and asked many questions. Specifics of those market-research focus groups cannot be shared (still honoring that NDA…), but there were many themes that carried true as they shared feedback with the Nissan representatives…

…Keep with the internal-combustion tradition for the new Z.
…Give us more power! Many asked for their turbos back.
🙂

…Make it affordable. The 350z launched for under $30k…and while everyone realized that wasn’t possible nearly two decades later, they all agreed upon Katayama’s intent to make the Z affordable.
…Keep our stick shift as an option. Yes, autos are often a tad faster by numbers, but that “connected” feeling that Hiroshi Tamura (Product Specialist for Nissan) speaks about in his new-Z interviews is crucial for the car to be “a true Z”.
…Update infotainment and the interior to current materials and features.

After the study sessions concluded, the participants went back to their ZCON-week activities but a few of us were pulled together on the side to discuss some of what was shared and thoughts on the car's name...a topic that came up previously in our Japan-trip chats. It was evident that the new Z (whatever it would be) had its challenges with product planners for volume-cars discussing sales figures for the current Z at that time. Budgets were shrinking and product managers at Nissan had larger focuses on “volume” vehicles and appetites to develop an affordable sports car when most automakers were looking elsewhere would add to the challenge.

Moving into 2019, the Z “chatter” and rumors swooned over the internet and within global car communities. Everyone knew that something was in development and anticipation grew daily (as did the myriad of false news reports). In Japan, 2019 marks the “50th Anniversary of the Z” as 1969 marks their anniversary date for the “Fairlady Z” (the right-hand drive local market of our Datsun 240z). Nissan pushed hard to remind 50-years of enthusiasts that they had not forgotten about them…with the New York International Auto Show display of vintage Z’s and GTR’s…along with a heritage-focused “50th Anniversary” edition of the Nissan 370z. In the U.S., there was another “50th Anniversary” celebration being planned by the Z Car Club Association for the 2020 ZCON event…

I was honored that ZCON 2020 were a large part of Nissan’s strategy to build momentum toward a new Z as the event represents the largest concentration of Z-loyalists in North America. The event typically migrates around the country year to year, but was scheduled to “come home” to the Nashville area (Nissan’s North American headquarters are right in Franklin, TN – a Nashville suburb).

The new “Z Proto” was to be revealed with incredible scheduling efforts to coincide with Yutaka Katayama’s birthday and the ZCON-week “50th Anniversary of the Z” celebration. A global coordination effort to bring enthusiasts together at the event LIVE was realized…emotions and excitement were heightened with the nod to the past and new prototype being revealed.

The event’s Z reveal and success (in the midst of all the 2020 challenges) demonstrated to Nissan that their efforts for a new Z were justified. In 2021, in Colorado Springs, Nissan’s development efforts on the new Z were shared with the world during ZCON week again, live from New York.

…fast forward to 2022…

Nissan invited a variety of media to participate in a “First Drive” event in Las Vegas in late April. I had the opportunity to participate in the event so that I may share some of that experience with our community…

Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided the venue for the event and Hiroshi Tamura was there along with Nissan engineers, marketing and executives. A row of new Z’s were there at the event – Red, Blue, Yellow…it was a feast on the eyes to see them lined up.
The 2023 Nissan Z is being offered (as promised at that 2020 prototype-reveal, and a year later during the production-car launch) at ~$40k. The real number is $39,990 with the Sport trim. All trims receive a 400bhp / 350ft-lbs torque twin turbo 3.0L V6, the VR30DDTT platform shared with the Infiniti Red Sport.

Options for the new Nissan Z are pretty straight-forward; Trim Level (Sport/Performance/Proto Spec), Color and Transmission (yes, there’s a 6-speed manual available). The color-palette for the new Nissan Z is incredible. Nissan gave us back our “turbos” that so many asked during those early sessions…but did it while heeding our other requests as well. Styling evokes the Datsun 240z, the Nissan 300zx Z32…and brings in common “Z” cues throughout the car. Lineage for the car is embedded in the “Since 1969 –" text etched middle-bottom of the rear hatch glass. Inside the car, infotainment has been updated along with a full-digital display with three different “gauge” views to accommodate customization options to the driver. Full 2023 Nissan Z specifications may be reviewed here: https://usa.nissannews.com/.../2023-nissan-z-press-kit.

Driving the new Z…

The driving experience included a 600-ft “drag” straight where we were encouraged to drive a 370z 50th Anniversary car to get a baseline feel of the previous generation Z-car. Then, Sport and Performance models were available with both transmission-types. The Performance and Sport trims help to highlight the differences between the Sport’s rear-differential and the Performance’s upgraded mechanical rear differential.

It was very apparent that the new Nissan Z was quicker than the 370z… The turbos spool very, very quickly and power is on-tap right away. Wheel-spin is mitigated better by the mechanical differential…and wheel chirp can be found through the first four gears from a launch. Nissan’s 9-Speed automatic offers an incredible experience in the new Z. It not only lessens driver-error in launches, but with the Performance trim’s included “Launch Control” – it provides as close to flawless drag-race launches as one could expect. Manual transmissions have upgraded Exedy clutches and syncro-rev match for “heel-toe” driving styled throttle blips on downshifts.

After some time launching the various Z’s, we were ushered to the road-course for some fast-paced “lead-follow” laps to get the new Z’s feel around corners, and testing the updated suspension and Akebono-brakes equipped on the Performance models. The Performance is $10k more than the Sport at $49,990 and offers a variety of options – larger RAYS wheels (19’s vs. 18’s), larger Akebono brakes with colored calipers, the mechanical clutch-type LSD, a premium steering wheel, sport-tuned suspension, heated outside mirrors, front chin and rear spoilers, heated leather appointed seats, power passenger seat, suede appointed door trim, larger Bose 9” screen (vs. 8”), NissanConnect Services and WiFi Hotspot, HomeLink Transceiver (garage door opener) and aluminum-clad pedals. Note, Proto Spec special limited edition models (only 240 being produced) are based on the Performance model and offered at $52,990.

The new Performance Nissan Z feels at home on the road-course. Strong acceleration is offset well by the Akebono brakes and sport-tuned suspension. As I own a 2009 NISMO 370z with wider-than-OEM tires, I believe enthusiasts will update the front and rear tires from their 255/40R19 (front) and 275/35R19 (rear) a bit wider for a larger contact patch. The new generation Z “feels” like a Z-car. It’s plenty fast in stock form with the turbos doing their work and I know the aftermarket will make easy strides to make them even faster.

The car handles incredibly well with an electronic steering system vs. the outgoing 370z’s hydraulic system…and weight distribution front-biased enough to be able to kick the tail out should one “choose” to do so.
🙂
The laps go quickly and we’re summoned back to the pits where Nissan has a bite to each for us and a Z to go drive on public roads. I chose to head toward Lake Meade which goes through some twisty roads…THIS is where the new Nissan Z thrives. I had an automatic model, wanting to test out the new transmission a bit more. The power is just so smooth, despite being a turbocharged engine, and the 9-speed’s shift tuning is dead-on. I will say, after the acquaintance period ended, I did yearn for the manual-shift…though, later when stuck in traffic I did vastly regain my appreciation for the auto. Through the twisties, the car felt planted in each corner, visuals from the new Nissan Z are decent side-to-side, but as many 370z owners will admit, the quarter windows are a bit non-functional (but that’s OK, that’s where we will put our club stickers anyway, right?). Heading through the canyons and hills of Lake Meade state park there’s so much of that “dance partner” feeling that Tamura-san preaches. The bolstered seats “hug” you…your left arm can rest comfortably on the door-armrest, the digital display is crisp, colorful and three center gauges make you smile and think about the early days of Datsun. The Bose stereo was a strong-point as well in the drive. I connected Bluetooth before the drive and queued up my favorite driving play-list for the afternoon. The only real challenge I faced during the drive was the fact that I had to give the car back too soon.

The seventh generation Z car is a Z in all the tradition of the sense. The rear quarter view of the Z’s retro-body lines is my favorite with 300zx cues in the tail lights and wide quarter arches. During the drive, I experienced another member of the media drive taking a photo of theirs on the side of the road…smiling as they did so. I slowed for a quick “Z” wave and they ended up pulling out behind me to join me through some of the turns. The front-end of the new Nissan Z emulates so much from the Datsun 240z that is lost a bit for some who don’t have that tie to the earlier car. From the rear-view mirror, the other Z looked like a modern-day 240z.

I am often asked, "will I get one"? Absolutely, but it'd have to be a Proto Spec.
😉


Keep tabs on the Z Car Club Association’s social sites for more information and coverage of the all-new Nissan Z – and consider joining us for an upcoming ZCON (www.zcon.org).

Chris Karl, ZCCA
www.zcca.org