The 2023 Nissan Z Will Make You Love Driving Again

2023 Nissan Z Featured Image.
2023 Nissan Z Featured Image.

Do you dream of driving with excitement every day?

If you have a 2023 Nissan Z, you can make this dream come true. In its newest iteration, the Nissan Z has everything you could want in a sports coupe, coming in at around $39,900. The Z has had an overhaul and definitely makes people look at you on the road. It doesn’t hurt that my test car, which came in around $53,000, was a delightful bright metallic blue that pretty much forces people to look at it. I didn’t mind turning heads during the drive!

The updated looks are rooted in the Z’s heritage. When you look at it, you see nods to the past, and I love it. The headlamps, the slope of the roof towards the rear, and the oval taillights all remind me this car has been around a while. Plus, the design is fun for me because my dad had a 1990 Nissan Z. This 2023 version looked every bit like the modern retelling of that car.

Related: About a Car: The 2023 Nissan Z Sports Car Continues the Heritage With a Modern, Minimalist New Look

Nissan Z Rear 3/4 Angle. Photo: Liam Lacey

Nissan Z Rear 3/4 angle. Photo: Liam Lacey

Let’s Begin with Some Details

The new Nissan Z starts at $39,990. Now, we all know there will be at least one or two add-ons that bump that price up, but it’s a good starting point for such a fun car. My test car was the Performance model, so it started at $49,990. That blue paint was an extra $1,295, and it also had illuminated kick plates and upgraded floor mats that took the price to $53,210.

The Z has a twin-turbo V6 that creates 400 hp. This means a lot of power in a little package. You really feel the speed! The steering is comfortable and responsive, and the Z really sticks to the road. The driver feels very much in control, whether you’re in the manual transmission or the automatic transmission version.

Related: Thanks to Volkswagen, I Learned to Drive a Manual Transmission

2023 Nissan Z Front Angle. Photo: Liam Lacey

2023 Nissan Z front angle. Photo: Liam Lacey

Who This Car Is For

  • Drivers who want to have fun zipping around town, zipping around the country, zipping around pretty much anywhere
  • Drivers who want sporty handling and a feeling of being connected to the car
  • Drivers who don’t need to carry a bunch of people or stuff
  • People who want to learn to drive a manual or further embrace their love of manuals
  • Buyers who want to stand out in a crowd with a car that is distinctive yet embraces its heritage
  • Drivers who want a weekend car to escape in

What You Need to Know

  • This sporty coupe is a great car to learn how to drive a faster, more performance-focused car, or hone your skills if you already know
  • The estimated mpg for the manual transmission version of the Z is 18 in the city, 24 on the highway, and a combined average of 20
  • This car has some pretty significant blind spots
  • You have your choice of a manual or automatic transmission. The driving experience is different in each, so it’s worth test-driving them both if you’re not sure which one you want

Related: The Toyota GR 86 Might Be the Best Little Manual Transmission Sports Car on the Road

The 2023 Nissan Z gets you from Point A to Point B quicker than you’d like

That’s both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on the situation. The journey will delight you, whether you’re going out for a quick lunch with a friend or a weekend drive. It was a comfortable car to be in despite its small size and low profile.

The seats are highly bolstered and kept me in place during all types of drives, and I loved that they didn’t make it difficult to get in and out of the car. They were leather and heated too. So when you get where you’re going, you’re kind of bummed that you’ve arrived.

The Instrument Panel. Photo: Sara Lacey

The instrument panel. Photo: Sara Lacey

Warning: Technical Information Ahead

The manual transmission is easy to use, and I would even say it’s a forgiving setup. The distance between gears is short, and the shifter moves quickly between them. The Z is fine operating within normal shifting areas that you may remember when you learned to drive (2500-3000 rpm), but doesn’t blink when you let them go higher. In fact, it jumps at the chance to accelerate. When allowed to do so, you will subconsciously react with a giant grin and see how much closer to the red line you can get.

That’s because the manual transmission is paired with the aforementioned 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6. That is a lot of power for this little car. And if you want to push it to the limit, the Z will let you. Nissan has added a rev-matching feature and launch control. But do not fear. The way the Z is built, you stay stuck to the road, and this inspires confidence and makes a driver want to explore the reaches of what the car can do. And that, my friends, is fun.

Interior Of The 2023 Nissan Z. Photo: Sara Lacey

Interior of the 2023 Nissan Z. Photo: Sara Lacey

The cockpit is a reminder that driving can also be a pastime

The driver’s seat is the place to be in the 2023 Nissan Z. The instrument cluster is actually a screen with three different options for what you want it to show you. Do you want more performance, track-racing type information like rpm and oil temperature? There’s a screen for that. It will also flash red when you get close to the red line. The regular screen has the speedometer front and center. Oh, and don’t forget the three cool gauges above the center stack that show the turbo speed, the turbo boost psi, and the voltage gauge.

I loved the aluminum pedals that were a part of the Performance package. It’s such a fun visual punch, and my feet did not feel slippy, even when I was wearing sandals with slick soles.

But truly, do you have to be a track racer to love the Z? Not by a long shot. The beauty is, if you want to learn, the Z has everything you need to get started. And keep happily going for a while, too.

The Center Stack. Photo: Sara Lacey

The center stack. Photo: Sara Lacey

Multimedia Systems are for Sports Cars, Too

I liked the 9” touchscreen in the Z. It was crystal clear and easy to use. You can employ Nissan’s interface for navigation, sound system, and more. You can access the Settings menu to customize the display a bit, and the Connections menu to add devices for using the phone or playing music.

If you prefer, you can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you’re more comfortable with those interfaces. Below the screen are a few buttons, which I lovingly refer to as the “greatest hits.” Use them to skip ahead or back up a track in your music, select the audio menu, the vehicle menu, the map, and a “back” button.

This is where I need to point something out. Nissan makes one of my favorite buttons of all time – the screen off/on button. Press it, and the screen goes dark. Press it again, and the screen comes on again, exactly as you left it. Why doesn’t everyone make this button and put it right out there where everyone can use it easily? Oh! And they put a “Camera” button right out there too, so you just press it and immediately see the views from the cameras! Yes!

Rant over.

The Z has a Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth phone system, voice recognition, and a text messaging assistant. The Bose sound system does not disappoint, and I loved listening to it. However, I also loved listening to the car, especially when it was in Sport mode. To be transparent, that’s because Nissan pipes in “enhanced engine sounds” to make your drive experience more immersive. And to be fair, Nissan is not the only manufacturer that does this. I loved it.

Trio Of Gauges. Photo: Sara Lacey

Trio of gauges. Photo: Sara Lacey

Let’s Talk About Safety

It’s a conversation we need to have, mainly because of the crazy blind spots in the 2023 Nissan Z. The price you pay for that beautiful design is not being able to see out of it very well. Therefore, it’s very good that the Z comes with an automatic blind spot warning system, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and a rearview monitor.

Other safety features include rear cross-traffic alerts to alleviate the stress you will feel backing out of parking spaces or changing lanes. Plus, it has front and rear sonars to detect immobile objects. The Z is equipped with a lane departure warning system, intelligent cruise control, and a forward collision warning system. This system monitors traffic two cars ahead to make sure you are alerted if it slows quickly or comes to a quick stop.

And it might be that I was thinking more about them because the Nissan Z is a much smaller car than most out there on the road, but I was glad to learn that the Z has six airbags. It also has an advanced braking system with brake assist, and a traction control system as well.

So What Do You Get?

Most of what you get in the 2023 Nissan Z is what you would expect in a sports coupe:

  • Driver assist and safety systems including blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control
  • 6-cylinder twin turbo engine
  • Two drive modes
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Keyless entry and push-button start
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Sirius XM radio
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system

Our test model came with the addition of the performance package, which adds things like 19” lightweight alloy wheels, performance brakes and calipers, SyncroRev match, premium leather steering wheel, Bose sound system, Wi-Fi hotspot, and 9” touchscreen. The package also includes leather power front seats that are also heated.

What This Car Costs

  • Nissan Z base model, which includes all the above-mentioned standard features: $39,990
  • Nissan Z Performance model: $49,990
  • Nissan Z Limited Edition Proto Spec model (special yellow paint, interior details, and brake calipers): $52,990
Shelves For Your Stuff Behind The Seats. Photo: Sara Lacey

Shelves for your stuff behind the seats. Photo: Sara Lacey

Who and what gets to go with you in the 2023 Nissan Z?

Um, not many people and not much stuff, to be honest. One passenger. A couple of overnight bags. A couple of small purses that can go on the cool shelves behind the seats (THANK YOU, NISSAN). And that’s about it. A week of groceries if you’re only shopping for two or three of you. But you knew this car wouldn’t be a grocery-getter. You knew I wasn’t going to tell you you could bring all five of your dogs with you, so you’re not surprised.

At first, I thought there was only one cupholder, but then I realized a second one was hidden underneath the crafty sliding lid of the center console. So you can bring two cups of coffee. The center console can also hold some necessities, as well as the glove box. So, what I’m trying to say is, you will have to edit your packing list if you are going on a trip in the Z.

Shopping Bags Laying Flat. Photo: Liam Lacey

Shopping bags laying flat. Photo: Liam Lacey

The 2023 Nissan Z Can Help You Find (or Rekindle) Some Joy in Driving

The Nissan Z isn’t trying to be everything to you. It’s supposed to be your fun buddy that brings you joy behind the wheel. It will remind you that when you are driving a manual, you get to be fully engaged with the car and hopefully find some zen. To get it, you’ll need to tolerate an estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway, and a combined estimate of 20. But what else do you expect with a twin-turbo V6 that begs you to floor it everywhere you go? It’s a price I’d be willing to pay for speed and a manual transmission wrapped up in a dose of nostalgic modernity.

Disclosure: Nissan provided the 2023 Nissan Z for me to test. All opinions are my own.

Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey