"We want to keep the very best of what's worked throughout the Z lineage, but update it for the modern world," said Sam Cates, product planner at Nissan North America.
The Nissan Z has survived, with a couple of gaps, for more than four decades. Now, a clean-sheet Z for a new era. And one that salutes the ones from earlier eras, starting in the early 1970s.
The original Datsun 240Z sold from 1970-1973 was a showroom sensation, followed by the 260Z and 280Z in the same basic body design
With a mission to bring back some of that early sports car magic, Nissan's designers were given free rein to come up with something modern yet instantly classic, under the watchful eye of the enthusiast community.
"It was really important that we listened to our customers, and look back through our heritage to inspire the new 2023 car," added Cates.
Put someone even remotely familiar with Nissan Z cars behind the wheel with the logo hidden, and they'd feel right at home. And know exactly what car this is.
Nissan knew it was important to pay tribute to the Z's heritage. The front resembles the first-generation car of the 1970s, while at the rear, the taillights honor the fourth-generation Z of the 1990s.
Looks aren't everything, this car has the substance to go with the style. The twin-turbo V6 makes an even 400 horsepower, and yes, manual gear-shifting is available. Buyers have a choice of an automatic, or a conventional 6-speed manual.
So, how does the new Z drive? It drives exactly like a sports car should, specifically, how a Z sports car should. The power is amazing, shifting the 6-speed stick is a delight, and the handling is crisp and precise. I only had a limited amount of time with a bright blue 2023 Z in the Performance trim, but that gave me a great feel for the car.
All the ingredients are here to ensure that the Nissan Z has a bright future, while reminding everyone of its iconic past.
"I'm very proud that Nissan continues in the sports car game," Cates said, with great enthusiasm. "And I think it's a real credit to our customers, and the culture behind 'Z' that keeps the spirit alive, and gives us a reason to bring the new one to the market."
The Z is due to hit showrooms summer 2022, with prices starting at just over $40,000 for the Sport trim, and about $50,000 for the Performance model.