30-Minute Test Drive: 2023 Nissan Z Will Make You Smile Again and Again.

2023 Nissan Z Featured Image
2023 Nissan Z Featured Image

The Nissan Z has deep roots, and it’s showing them off in its 2023 model. But it’s not just the Z’s nostalgia that impresses.

A drive in a nimble car on a twisty road with the sound of the engine coming to life is a joy. I was optimistic that my drive in the 2023 Nissan Z would make me smile. And it did. As the first few minutes of my drive unwound, I was pleasantly surprised. But the Z continued to deliver grins with each turn, each start from a stop, and every time I looked at it.

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

2023 Nissan Z Side Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

2023 Nissan Z Side Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

One Car, Two Transmissions, Two Experiences

I was able to drive the new 2023 Z with a manual transmission as well as an automatic transmission. Both cars have a twin-turbo V6 that will give you 400 horsepower and 350 torque. Really all that means is that you get a ton of power all spooled up to deliver it in a heartbeat. And it is fun. And it makes you feel elated.

Both cars are rear-wheel drive which makes them a more attractive option to sports car purists. The two versions felt like two different siblings, similar but also different. Both were a delight.

Related: Sports Cars Are Making Noise at the Auto Shows This Year!

Nissan Z Manual Transmission Model. Photo: Sara Lacey

Nissan Z manual transmission model. Photo: Sara Lacey

A Manual Transmission You Can Learn On

The manual transmission version of the Z is so much fun. Never driven a manual transmission? That’s okay. This clutch and gearshift are easy to use and not fussy at all. The shifting motion is short, quick, and crisp, making it an engaging experience and not a tiresome one. Zipping up Boulder Canyon was a blast, and I really got used to the car’s rhythm and enjoyed shifting up and down through the gears. It was an engaging and compelling drive.

Related: 5 Reasons You’ll Want To Drive A Manual Transmission

Nissan Z Front Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

Nissan Z Front Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

An Automatic Transmission You Can Play On

The automatic transmission was no less enjoyable. There was definitely feedback from the engine, giving a little kick at the shifts when pressing down hard on the accelerator. The paddle shifters were responsive and great fun when I wanted a more engaging drive, looking for the sweet spot in the rpm’s.

And searching was such a good time. Pushing the 2023 Nissan Z through corners and on straightaways was rewarding. The car was stable, practically forcing me to go faster. While that didn’t actually happen, the car helped me gain confidence behind the wheel. The more I drove it, the more rewarding it was. High speeds gifted me some engine noise and delightful stability through tight turns and straights too.

Related: Paddle Shifters: Fun or Phony?

2023 Nissan Z Red Interior. Photo: Sara Lacey

2023 Nissan Z red interior. Photo: Sara Lacey

The 2023 Nissan Z Looks Familiar in the Best Way

Visually, the Z is so compelling to me. The interior of the red car I tested had red trim. It felt very much like the cockpit of a jet. Or at least, what I imagine it to be like. The three gauges on the dash echoed the three climate control knobs below the multimedia screen. The steering wheel had the iconic “Z” logo. It was so fun.

Nissan 300Zx. Photo: Pete Evanow

Nissan 300ZX. Photo: Pete Evanow

To be honest, I love the look of almost every generation of this car. The rear definitely made me think of my dad’s 1990 300ZX. The front of it made me think of the 280 Z. And the chrome detail on the roofline screams “Nissan Z!” While the new Z is it’s own car, I love that it embraces its past. I can’t wait to drive it again.

Nissan 280 Zx. Photo: Pete Evanow

Nissan 280 ZX. Photo: Pete Evanow

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