2023 Nissan Z Performance Review

The stick is definitely the one to get

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Stunning and evocative exterior styling, powerful and sonorous twin-turbo V6, great with the manual transmission.
Negatives: Crappy plastic door handles, cabin feels cheaper than it looks, still can't hold a candle to the Toyota Supra.
Bottom Line: The Z is a welcomed successor the the Z-car line from Nissan/Datsun. It finally looks the part, and the driving is rewarding, especially with the 6-speed manual transmission. It's just too bad that the interior is disappointing.
We've been waiting for a manual tranny Z car, and we finally got behind the wheel. The two-door hard top coupe is beautiful from every angle, and it certainly upstages the GR Supra in terms of styling. The interior, however, is less so, and we couldn't help but notice some cheap bits inside. The good news is that the 2023 Z in all trims gets a 400-hp twin-turbocharged V6 engine mated to a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic. We drove it in Performance trim with a 6-speed manual for a week. We cover it in detail in our full review below.

Driving Experience



The Z's engine is smooth and potent with 400 horses at the ready. It moves quickly, but it's not as responsive at lower rpms. Once revs climb, however, the engine is a beast. It also feels communicative and corners and steers remarkably well. Too bad our tester didn't have the 6-speed manual transmission.

Ride Quality: The ride is firm but decently dampened. It never felt harsh or uncomfortable.

Acceleration: Acceleration off the line isn't as immediate as we would've hoped, at least it doesn't feel that way. 60 mph arrives in 4.5 in the manual. The shifter is on the rubbery side, but we had no trouble roping through the gears. .

Braking: The Z's brakes are its Achilles heel. They're vague, a tad mushy, and lack the proper feel for a sports car. This is unacceptable.

Steering: Steering is a bit dead on center, but it has substantial heft and good precision. We had no problem threading the needle in traffic or hitting apexes.

Handling: The Z corners well, but it lacks the body control of the Supra. It just doesn't feel quite as connected, either.




Although Nissan has updated its mediocre infotainment system into something better but still not excellent. The only truly excellent system in the sports car segment at this price point is the BMW M240i. We do, however, really like the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that provides ample data in Sport mode.

Infotainment System: The 9-inch screen looks fine, but it's not especially responsive or easy to navigate. Its placement in the center stack could be a little bit higher so as to render viewing easier while driving quickly.

Controls: For the most part, controls are good. The HVAC knobs are easy to use while driving but are a bit cheap for a $50k+ car. The shift knob is weird because of its low profile and shape. This car deserves more.




The Z's strongest suit is its appearance. The fact that Nissan designers were able to meld two past Z cars into a modern, evocative version that looks better than any mainstream sports car out there today. It's not as busy as the Supra, more classically handsome than the BMW M240i, and more refined than the GR86. It really does turn heads. We're not huge fans of yellow paint, but it didt looks everywhere we went.

Front: The 240Z is apparent in the hood and the distinct headlights, and the creases and shapes are perfect. The large grated grille might be polarizing, but we quite like it.

Rear: The 300Z comes through in the taillights beautifully. The twin round tailpipes and the small ducktail spoiler add to the stunning and unique back end. We love it even more than the front fascia.

Profile: The short front and rear overhangs, the muscular body, and the steeply raked roofline give it a pouncing look that's aggressive and handsome.

Cabin: We thought the cabin would look and feel even better in person than it did in photos. We were disappointed by some of the cheap interior plastics. Bargain basement Versa door handles are better than the hoop-style ones in the Z, which look and feel cheap. It's a glaring error.




There aren't many sports cars that are truly comfortable. The Z is decent but not great. It's a driver's car, for sure, and the seats work well, but the seating position and the visibility are just ok.

Front Seats: Good bolstering and cushioning are aided by the nice perforated suede inserts.

Rear Seats: Not applicable.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Sound dampening is good, and the Z is pretty quiet at highway speeds. There were no interior quality issues.

Visibility: Visibility past the long hood is good, but the rear and rear side views are compromised by thick pillars. It's not surprising for a sports car, and it's actually better than the Supra's.

Climate: The climate control system is just ok. The vents in the door are oddly placed, and the thin center vents could use more airflow capability.




There's a decent amount of standard safety equipment, but the Z has not been safety tested yet by the IIHS or the NHTSA.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Z comes with forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights and a rearview camera.

Optional Tech: None.




There's not much you can expect from a sports car, and the Z is right smack in the middle of that. The cabin is sparse in terms of reachable and usable small storage spaces, and the hatchback does not open up to a ton of space.

Storage Space: The cabin has small spaces like the cupholders, the armrest, and the door pockets. The only decently sized space is the cubby at the base of the center stack.

Cargo Room: There's a scant 6.9 cubic feet of cargo space between the rear wheel wells. That's small than the Supra's 10.2 cubes but a hair more than the GR86's 6.1 cubes.

Fuel Economy



We drove the Z pretty hard in sport mode for most of our review, which means our efficiency should've been less than great. We were surprised by how well it did.

Observed: 19.0 mpg

Distance Driven: 144 miles.




The premium Bose system comes standard on the Performance trim, and it's a good one. It's not one of the best premium systems we've listened to, but the sound delivery is clear and full.

Final Thoughts

The Z is just that much better when you pair with a manual transmission, which is the only way this sports car should be outfitted. We enjoyed driving it, although it's not as dynamic as the GR Supra, and it's not as connected as the GR86. The interior is a little bit disappointing in terms of materials quality, but that doesn't detract from the fact that it's one of the most fun cars you can drive for the money.
Shopping for a new
Nissan Z?