Nissan Z Car of the Week AutoDeal

What a run it has been for Nissan and its Z. In an age where many brands are going electric, investing in new battery technologies, and slowly moving towards hybrids, a car like the Nissan Z is an oddity. Why invest in the development of a two-door gasoline-only sportscar when the market clearly wants five-door crossovers? Well, why the heck not? 

Nissan as a brand has always been in touch with its roots. From its various programs that help enthusiasts with OEM parts of discontinued models, to its continued drive and push for its most famous nameplates like the GT-R and, of course, the Z (Now what about that Silvia revival? Please?) 

The Z continues to inspire, and now with a new look, a new powertrain, and the same old chassis, it lives. This rear-drive-two-door coupe continues on, at least for now, so let’s shine the limelight on it while it’s still here. 

Nissan Z

Nissan designed the Z to evoke a sense of nostalgia, similar to what quite a number of brands are doing nowadays. Neo-retro design appears to be in vogue for cars right now, and the reception of the new Z’s design has been rather positive. 

Nissan Z

Remembering your roots is all a part of honoring your legacy as a brand, and Nissan pulled a bunch of its old pieces and retooled them for the modern age. If you remember the original Fairlady Zs, the S30 generation, you will see some of that in the front. Down the side, and quite predictably so, you still have much of the Z33 and Z34’s shape partly because it’s still largely based on the same platform. In fact, the code of the new model is RZ34. Nissan just added an R to the chassis and called it a day, but there’s more to it than that, which we’ll touch upon a little later. 

Nissan Z

Finally, we arrive at what we unanimously consider to be the car’s best design feature: the rear. The taillight array is simply the most gorgeous part of the car, at least in our opinion. Inspired by the full bar on the Z32, otherwise known as the 300ZX, it’s redone with LEDs and we can’t stop looking at it. You could also say that Nissan was finally able to execute its twin-turbo V6 properly this time around, which it tried with the Z32 generation to middling success. Now, we expect better thanks to better turbo technology and thanks to all the updates. 

Nissan’s story with its current platform is that of near perfection, and we say near because instead of ground-up engineering, the brand has opted to go for the refinement route. Granted, if you’re looking to buy the Z because it is the latest and greatest, perhaps news of its platform doesn’t inspire too much confidence. The thing is, we reviewed the 370Z, or the Z34 platform prior to the new one, and it was still an excellent-handling vehicle all things considered. Both models, whether it's the NISMO or the standard, held up well in the handling department, with steering that’s direct, a chassis that’s rigid in the right places, and a cockpit that sits the driver in just the right spot to really feel how the car’s moving.

In the new Z, the previous generation’s antiquated steering was addressed and swapped out for a modern electronic system, while the chassis was tightened up to accommodate more power and torque from the new engine. That and other parts of the chassis were stiffened up to improve handling. Nissan knows its Z33 and 34 chassis well and there’s nothing wrong with the rehash because the old one was just so capable. 

On top of that, the Z stayed true to its roots. It’s not like other brands like the Toyota Supra where the A80 from the 90s to the early 2000s was a totally different car to the one that we have today. The Z is what it always was, a two-door coupe with a six-cylinder engine up front with sporting intent but with the makings of a grand tourer. 

Nissan Z Engine

As mentioned, Nissan tried to shoehorn in a twin-turbo V6 into the 300ZX. At the time, the powertrain was an engineering marvel, and it was so successful that we continue to see its descendants in Nissan’s two-door coupe: The GT-R and not the Z. The main problem that the Japanese brand faced back then was the fact that the sequential turbo setup in the Z was a nightmare to package under the hood of the Z back then. The bay was tight, the components were large, and there was plumbing everywhere. 

Nissan Z Gauges

Now, everything has changed, and Nissan has gained a thorough knowledge of packaging a twin-turbo V6 into a two-door coupe, no thanks to the Z, but thanks a lot to the R35 GT-R. Over the years, and trust us it’s been a lot of years, Nissan has been able to perfect its twin-turbo V6, and after years of being naturally aspirated with the 350Z and the 370Z, we finally get a proper engine inside the car, and it’s fast, but not in the way that you’d expect it to be. 

It’s turbocharged, but not really. Memories of the Toyota Supra tell us that turbos are not to be trifled with, but not with the Z. Nissan could have gone the same direction and created a turbocharged engine that really kicks you in the chest when you slap the accelerator, but it didn’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thin because you have the GT-R for that. With 378 hp and 475 Nm of torque, it’s a real ripper on paper, but on the drive, it felt a lot tamer than we imagined. 

Sportscars are sharp while grand tourers are steady. The magic of the Z is that it straddles that fine line between sports cars and GT cars quite nicely It’s somewhere in between because it’s not as raw as a thoroughbred sports car, but it’s not as cushy as a grand tourer either. 

The engine, while powerful, still behaves like it's naturally aspirated, which is to say that the power is predictably linear and at the top of the rev range, instead of being in the middle and kicking like a mule. The transmission is not sharp, but it is smooth like butter when it shifts, and its handling is more relaxed and not something that you have to muscle through a corner with. 

The Z isn't a rubber-or tire screeching sportscar right out of the gate. In fact, it's a little more nuanced than that. Of course, it's outward appearance will tell you that it is a car worthy of slapping performance bits on and taking to the track. Of course, it looks like it can rip your arms off with its acceleration. Of course, it looks gorgeous and fast standing still, but the Z is a little more complex than that. 

Nissan Z Front

It seems like it's not trying to prove anything. The car is very quiet on long drives, it's very easy going to drive for a sportscar of its caliber, and it's a car that doesn't egg you on to drive fast. You can go at your own pace with this one, and just simply admire it on a long drive, sitting at a parking spot, or online if you haven't gotten yours yet. 

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