HomeFeatured VehiclesReview: 2023 Nissan Z Performance

Review: 2023 Nissan Z Performance

Nissan didn’t have to build this, but they did


In an age where sports cars are becoming SUVs and sedans, Nissan has an 80% new, two-seater Z car with retro styling and is on team #savethemanuals. The Z sits on an updated 370Z chassis with improved rigidity and increased horsepower from the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. This is shared with the Red Sport Infiniti, but the Z’s is paired with new transmissions for a familiar but refined driving experience. The base trim, Sport, starts at $39,990 with the Performance trim stepping it up to $49,990. This includes an additional array of performance and cosmetic components that inch the Z closer to, but still undercutting, the six-cylinder Toyota Supra.       


The Nissan Z is gorgeous to see in person. A lot of the marketing materials we saw before its launch made the square mouth look large and unsightly but that’s not the case. Paired with some nice fender flares, a sharp nose, a 240z fastback profile, and Z32 300zx taillights, the new Z will catch some attention. The Z we had is finished in two-tone Passion Red, which is one of the best colors available for the Z, and if two-tone isn’t your thing, there are three options available for solid colors. The Performance model features some additional exterior goodies including 19-inch Rays forged alloy wheels, a chin spoiler, and a rear spoiler. This helps reduce rear lift and gives the Performance model a higher limited top speed of 155 mph, not that you can achieve that on any public roads.       

2023 Nissan Z Performance (Photo by Dustin W. Johnson)


The Nissan Z interior features a cozy two-seat layout with a modern and luxurious interior. Our car’s interior is finished in two-tone red leather and black synthetic suede that are highlighted on the comfy bucket seats. The dash features a digital gauge “infotainment” display like most new cars. However, setting it apart from what is expected, there are three analog gauges pods for turbo boost, turbo speed (which I believe is a production car first), and a battery voltmeter. Even though the infotainment display is a touchscreen, Nissan still includes general menu buttons below the screen for easy navigation. The 9-speed automatic shifter in the middle is shaped like a computer mouse but is easy to use and has a nice minimal appearance. While driving the car, you have a bit of a blind spot, as expected with fast back sports cars. This is where the blind spot monitoring system lights help, since they are placed on the inside edge of the mirrors making it obvious when they light up. The monitoring system itself was quick and accurate creating no problem maneuvering the car around. The interior feels solid, even if a bit snug, and the Z on the steering wheel evokes a sense of pride while driving.       


Power comes from Nissan’s VR30DDTT, a 3.0l twin-turbocharged V6 shared with the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport models, producing 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. One of the unique features of the VR30DDTT on the Z is the turbo speed sensor. A turbocharger is an out-of-control turbine that runs the risk of over-speeding, which can damage the turbo or worse, damage the engine. As a result, most manufacturers build in safety nets and throttle back turbo capabilities to reduce this, but the turbo speed sensors in the Z allow Nissan to take full advantage and rev out the turbocharged engine for a smooth acceleration under boost. The Z comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission equipped with rev-matching, but our Performance trim Z came equipped with the 9-speed automatic which is a huge improvement over the 7-speed found in the Q50 and Q60.    

2023 Nissan Z Performance (Photo by Dustin W. Johnson)


The Z offers a huge upgrade in driving experience over the 370Z and Infinity Q50 and Q60, with which it shares the powertrain. The new transmission options open the discussion of driving style preferences and, although we can’t speak about the experience of the manual (trust us, we wanted the manual too), the 9-speed automatic offers smooth accelerations with responsive quick shifts when using the flappy paddles (GT-R inspired paddle shifters). The steering feel is fine, but it does have some on-center vagueness that is often found in many new cars, though I don’t think it will bother most people. The car comes equipped with two driving modes, Standard and Sport. Standard is recommended for daily driving and offers a balance of performance/economy as needed based off the driver inputs. This mode is also where the car was best suited driving in the Phoenix grid. Sport mode, on the other hand, works to create a more dynamic driving experience for track days and curvy roads by increasing steering resistance, holding out revs for increased response from the powertrain, and adjusting the vehicles dynamic controls for a “spirited” drive. Another performance mode is the launch control, available for both transmission options. The launch control is quick to use but still manages to squeal the tires on launch. I can’t help but think the Z’s acceleration and grip could be improved with a different set of tires, as it is a little too easy to slide and have fun on the factory tires. The driver assists do not kick in immediately which means a bit of fun (sliding) can happen even with traction control on, so some skill is still needed behind the wheel. Overall, the car is fun to drive, and it will make you giggle when you get to have that unexpected fun.         

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The new Z is a clear improvement over the previous 370Z and makes better use of the shared VR30DDTT engine while having new looks inspired by the long important heritage of Z. This is the enthusiast car we all dream about: a rev happy 2-seat sports car that comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. Nissan did not have to build this. It’s not want most people want, it’s not practical, but they built it anyways for the enthusiast. My final conclusion is you should go to your nearest Nissan dealership and drive the Z for yourself.  

Jeff Sutton
Jeff Sutton
Jeff Sutton, also known as Jalopy Jeff, is a Content Creator for and He grew up in a small Californian town working on classic American and British cars. Jeff moved to Flagstaff, AZ for college and worked as an auto parts store manager. Now residing in Phoenix, he has an affinity for everything automotive and can regularly be found at car shows, rallies, and events. Jeff has owned and experienced many collector cars however, as others come and go, he continues to hold on to his first collector car, his 1984 Porsche 944.



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