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The newest Z goes back to the future with retro looks and modern performance and technologies.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The all-new 2023 Nissan 7 embraces the original concept of the long running sports car — small, nibble and great fun to drive.I used to drive a Datsun 240Z in high school, and in my memory it's among the greatest cars I've ever had. However, when I look at the specs of that old 240Z, the numbers tell a different story. That car, with its inline six-cylinder engine and dual carburetors, pushed out about 151 horsepower through a four-speed manual transmission. The 0-60 time of that car was 9.4 seconds. That seems anemic now, but the performance level was off the charts back in 1981.

I recently spent a week in the successor to that old Z-car — the 2023 Nissan Z. After spending a moment getting used to the fact that Nissan's been making some version of the Z-car for 53 years, and that it's been over 40 years since I had mine, I took a fresh look at Nissan's purist two-seat sports car.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2023 Nissan Z is only available as a fastback hatchback, just like the original 240Z/

First, the exterior design holds up well. Nissan departed from the original 240Z look by the late 70s, and went through the 1990s with a very different and much larger vehicle. Then the 350Z of the 2000s really looked nothing like the original, but took performance to a whole new level.

The 370Z started a walk back to the original look, and that's completed in the new Z coupe. The latest iteration of the Z-car is back to being small, impractical, and entirely wonderful. There's seating for two, and enough space under the hatchback for some luggage, but that's about it. This is a car that exists to be driven, not to run errands.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: NISSAN - The interior of the 2023 Nissan Z is simple but loaded with available automotive technologies.

Under the hood is Nissan's latest twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine. It's good for 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission that sends power to the rear wheels through a mechanical limited slip differential. The new Z will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, less than half the time of my old Datsun.

It's not just the engine power, though. The new Z is up to date on technology with a nine-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system responds to voice commands, too. The headlights use LEDs and there's a digital dash for the driver.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The sports bucket seats in the 2023 Nissan Z are well bolstered for hard driving.

But the real heart and soul of any Z-car is the driving experience. It'll take you a few miles to get used to the immediacy of the steering and the power of the brakes. You might feel a bit clumsy and jerky at first, but once you settle into the car's razor-sharp performance, most other cars on the road are going to feel like a bowl of oatmeal in comparison. The Z is on point, and begs for a twisty road through the mountains to get to know you as a driver.

There's one more thing about the new Z that is very different from the original, and that's the price. The original 240Z in 1970 was priced at $3,526, or about $27,000 in today's dollars. The 2023 Nissan Z has a base price of $39,990 for the Sport trim. We tested the Performance trim, which is $49,990, plus a destination fee of $1,025. The Sport trim comes without the touchscreen, big brakes, and the limited slip rear-end, but overall it's probably the better deal because the engine and transmission are the same as the Performance model.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2023 Nissan Z is powered by a twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 the produces 400 horsepower and 350 foot pounds of torque.
Either way, you'll have to part with a little more coin than it took 50 years ago. The thing is, with this new Z-car, it's worth the price. If you love classic sports cars with a fully modern feature set, you need to test drive the Nissan Z. It might make you feel like a teenager again.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Cargo space is limited in the 2023 Nissan Z but it is designed for fun not errand-running.

2023 Nissan Z Performance

Base price: $49,990

Price as tested: $53,210

Type: Sports car

Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 (400 hp, 350 lbs-ft)

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 9-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 18/24

Overall length: 172.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,486 pounds

Final assembly: Tochigi, Japan


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