How to Know if the Nissan Z is the Sports Car For You

Me With The Nissan Z
Credit: Scotty Reiss

How is a girl supposed to choose? Let’s break it down.

You want a sports car. They catch your eye as they speed past, hugging the road, sweeping along every curve and zipping off into the sunset as your minivan lumbers along to the tempo of Encanto. For date night, solo shopping trips and weekend getaways, a sports car just makes so much sense. It makes you feel like yourself again.

But, you want something that’s also affordable, beautiful and that you will drive well into the future. Is the Nissan Z the one for you?

When the Nissan Z made its debut last year it got a lot of praise for both its refined design and its nod to the Z heritage by reviving some of the original details. 

And it’s become a darling of critics and enthusiasts for its design proportions, its power and the drive experience that you get for the $40,000- about $50,000 price tag. 

Related: Do You Want To Like Driving Again? Try A 2023 Nissan Z!

I Just Can'T Get Enough Of The Modern Z Silhouette

I just can’t get enough of the modern Z silhouette. Photo: Scotty Reiss

If You’re All About Classics, You’ll Love the Z Story

When Nissan introduced 240Z in 1969 for the 1970 model year, it became the sports car to have. Its sleek, bullet-shaped proportions were elegant and expensive looking; it just looked fast. It was an instant classic. Over the years, the Z design both evolved and preserved the original designs, though some iterations went more toward Porsche design than Z design with spoilers and a tight torso-hugging cabin; they were always fun to drive but not everyone’s cup of tea. 

For 2023, the Z returns with more original details, such as a “new” logo that is actually the original revived for 2023; a hood line and roof line that are a nod to the original, and teardrop shaped headlights that might be the originals turned slightly on their sides. 


Related: What Drives Her: How Allyson Witherspoon, Fearless Globe-Trotting Marketer, is Shaping Nissan 

The Hatchback In The Nissan Z

The hatchback in the Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

You’re OK with Just Enough Space — And the Perfect Handbag Spot 

Inside, the cabin is open and roomy for a car this size, though due to the slope of the hatchback, visibility is not perfect. It was tough to merge left in traffic; I had to rely heavily on my mirrors and watch the cars around me to ensure I didn’t merge into anyone.

Still, the hatchback creates a roomy feel, and there’s a very small shelf behind each of the two seats that are great places to stow a handbag or backpack. I really loved these. The cargo area is open and flat, and there’s a bar to prevent anything in the cargo space from flying into the passenger space if you stop short. This is a nice detail, too.

Related: 2016 Nissan 370Z Nismo: The thrill of owning the road

The View From The Driver'S Seat In The Nissan Z

The view from the driver’s seat in the Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

You Love a Great Drive Experience, and If You Want it, a Manual Transmission

Probably the biggest bonus here is that no matter the trim you opt for, the base Sport model or the upgraded Performance model, you get the same engine, a 400 HP V6 twin turbo. You can also, for no uptick in price, choose manual or automatic. 

So either way, it’s really fun to drive. It sounds throaty, it gives you that rumble under the seat that you expect and it zips around curves and over hills like a champ. It is a delight to drive. 

My test model was automatic with paddle shifters and sport mode, something you don’t get in the manual transmission option (the idea being YOU are the sport mode if you’re driving a manual). 

This Little Cubby Held My Phone And Allowed Me To Plug It In To The Usb Port

This little cubby held my phone and allowed me to plug it in to the USB port. Photo: Scotty Reiss

You Like a Zen Edit: Just What You Need and Not What You Don’t

The interior is quite well edited for what you want and need in a sports car:  The multimedia system is revamped and quite good, and it’s customizable. You can plug in your phone for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and being a small car, everything is at your finger tips.

One smart detail is the cupholders: There are two — one just in front of the center arm rest and one under it; slide the arm rest back to reveal it. I really liked this detail. 

A more interesting choice by the Z’s design team was the combination electric and manual seats in the performance model. Buttons on the side of the seat nearest the center console allow you to position the seat forward or back and the position the seat back, but you have to set the seat height and lumbar with manual dials on the side of the seats. Manual seat settings are typical in sports cars, so it was not a surprise. I kind of liked the combo. 

The Sport model, which starts at $39,990, delivers all the basics you need in this car, with Apple CarPlay, a cloth interior and 18″ wheels. The Performance model, priced at $49,990 adds leather seating and micro suede details, 19″ wheels and premium sound. Either way, it’s a nice edit.

The Hatchback In The Nissan Z

The hatchback in the Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

You Want, And Get, All The Sports Car Things: 

This is the ‘what you need to know’ part of the story: This car is low to the ground, it’s fast and it gets attention, for good and bad. During my test drive I had to pay attention to my speed to avoid getting a ticket, which I did successfully. I also was delighted by all the people who took notice, and photos and video, of the Nissan Z. It’s instantly iconic; you’ll get noticed. 

And, you get to pick your companions, or pick no companions; not everyone can ride along with you. It was really nice to set off for the day to hit the outlet mall south of town, to know that I could shop by myself and choose my own course. Not having to compromise time and choices based on what everyone else wants is in itself a luxury. 

And that is one of the built-in benefits of a sports car: your time, your route and your choices are your own. It lets you get back to being who you are at your core, even if it’s just a short trip to pick up dinner. 

Disclosure: Nissan provided the Z for this test drive; all opinions are my own.

The Rear End Of The Nissan Z

The rear end of the Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss