A New Nissan Z For A New Generation

Photo courtesy of Randy Stern
Photo courtesy of Randy Stern

How do you express your lifestyle?

Over the years, I explained how our cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans and so forth are an extension of who we are and how we live our lives. LGBTQ people are the most expressive humans on this planet. What we present to the universe is how we truly live our lives.

For me, I express my lifestyle by finding “the feel.” The “groove,” if you will. Musically, of course. But, through the vehicles I get to drive for this work. The cooler, the better.

It is not without some reasoning. Rather, through experience and nostalgia. 

In the case of the 2023 Nissan Z, it takes me back to my childhood when the first one debuted at Datsun dealerships in the fall of 1969.

The original Datsun 240Z was a two-seat sports coupe with a long hood and a short rear deck. Underneath the hood was an in-line six-cylinder engine that propelled this lightweight car across the highway and around the curves. The result is a pure experience that propelled us beyond our wildest dreams. 

There had been many attempts to recapture the essence of the original. Nissan knew it had to go back to its roots. They needed something that embodied a pure driving experience while referencing what made the 240Z legendary. 

Photo courtesy of Randy Stern

To find out whether the legend of the Z has recaptured the soul of my childhood, Nissan flew me out to Las Vegas to experience their new sports coupe. For someone who have brought you some of the finest vehicles sold in our region for the past 11 years, this one is going to be a special one to tell you about. 

On the outside, it was clear that Nissan’s designers wanted to reference the original 240Z onto a new modern platform. In the process, they also reference past Z models on top of the basic shape. Up front is a modern reminder of the original 240Z – without the chrome bumper across the grille. The open grille area is functional forcing air inside the engine compartment. 

The horizontal taillight arrangement has a hint of the fourth-generation model across the rear end. Though less bulbous, it is an obvious nod the last run of the 300ZX. 

Design references aside, the classic shape of the original 240Z lives on in a modern sports coupe. 

Those references continue inside the cabin. The three circular gauges on top of the center stack could be excused for ones found on the original 240Z. There’s the handbrake – yes, a real handbrake! The Z is still a two-seater, just like every generation before it. Except for the 2+2 models – but, we will refrain from discussing them…

Photo courtesy of Randy Stern

Everything else is simply 2023. The fully customizable digital instrument cluster, the infotainment touchscreen, the “shifter” for the automatic transmission, and the steering wheel are as modern as Nissan will allow inside the Z. Yet, they feel like they have been in past Z models. Still, to create a modern sports coupe, you have to have modern elements that flow with the rest of the car. 

There is still a hatchback, just like all other Zs before. Cargo space is good enough for a spirited weekend getaway with you and your significant other. 

As a taller person, I found getting in and out of the Z rather easy. No hitting my head of the roof or anything physical discomfort. The seats were comfortable and supportive. I felt no fatigue in the time behind the wheel. Visibility was great frontward, but a bit challenging in the rear. No fault of Nissan’s, as it is the nature of the beast. 

Speaking of the beast, you have to experience the instant fury of the 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 underneath the hood. It is a familiar engine that is found on a couple of Infiniti models, but it just seems it is happier in the shorter, lighter Z. My tester weighed in at 3,600 pounds – which is considered “light” in today’s safety equipment-laden world. 

Photo courtesy of Randy Stern

Enthusiasts may now rejoice. The 2023 Z comes with a six-speed manual standard. However, I drove the nine-speed transmission version. While actuated by a shift-by-wire system, you do get paddles to hone in the gears. No matter how you shift, the transmission response is very good. Even better, the Z sends all that power to the rear wheels only. 

Given the performance from the under the hood, the Z delivers on the driving experience. Yes, it has a firm ride, and you feel everything. You also get to feel it take corners. On our driving loop within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, we had a very fun set of roads with a mix of corners to handle. 

The Z maneuvers extremely well and very quickly. Need firmer control? Flip the Drive Mode toggle to Sport. Once in Sport, the steering feel becomes heavy, and your on-center feel is on point. That does not diminish the steering system at all. It is a solid system that offers a tight turning radius and quick response overall. 

The brakes are very good with solid pedal feel. I registered good stops in normal and panic situations. 

Photo courtesy of Randy Stern

Before I talk about pricing, I know that sports coupes of this type tend to get pretty expensive. Nissan assures you that the Z is a great value, keeping a 400-horsepower sports coupe priced under $40,000. The 2023 Z will start from $39,995. That gets you a Sport model with a manual transmission. 

We need to acknowledge the fact that Nissan has been actively supporting our community. They were at last year’s Twin Cities Pride. They are also sponsors of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Gay Softball World Series for the past few years. The company takes their involvement with our community seriously – and it shows. 

With that in mind, could the 2023 Nissan Z be your expression of your lifestyle? I believe it is. If want really a sports coupe, save the money you would spend on something more down-to-Earth. Like the 2023 Nissan Z. 

You’re welcome. 

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