Nissan’s new 2023 Z-car

Nissan’s new 2023 Z-car

Forbidden fruit. Nissan’s new Z-car won’t be coming to Europe. Here’s the lowdown on what we’ll be missing.


We were so smug about getting to enjoy the Alpine A110 at the expense of our American friends, weren’t we? And the same applies to the Toyota GR Yaris. But it looks like karma’s biting back hard with the reveal of Nissan’s production-ready Z coupe, which if you haven’t already guessed will remain firmly in the ‘forbidden fruit’ section of this magazine alongside Ford’s Mustang GT500.


Forbidden fruit. Nissan’s new Z-car won’t be coming to Europe. Here’s the lowdown on what we’ll be missing

Why won’t we see it in Europe? Ultimately it comes down to Nissan needing to spend money, which it doesn’t exactly have a lot of, with little prospect of making very much in return: the cost of making its new Z-car Euro emissions-friendly is unlikely to be recuperated by the tiny numbers two-seater, rear-drive coupes sell in.

To compound the frustrations of not having a new rear-drive, front-engined coupe to consider, Nissan’s latest Z couldn’t be more appealing. It isn’t hybridised or all-electric, instead it’s powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

At 4382mm, the Z is 142mmlonger than the 370Z on which it is based, and almost bang-on the same length as the Toyota GR Supra. At 1850mmwide and 1310mmtall, it is a little narrower and taller than the Supra but has an identical footprint with 255/40 R19 front and 275/35 R19 rear Bridgestone rubber (on its upper two trim levels).


Nissan’s new Z-car interior

Under the bonnet is the VR30DDTT engine that powers high-specification variants of the Infiniti Q50 and Japanese-market Skyline. Power is rated at an even 400bhp, torque at 350lb ft. These are significantly higher than the figures for the 370Z (323bhp/268lb ft) and also the six-cylinder EU-spec Supra, which produces 335bhp from its BMW-derived B58 3-litre turbo charged motor, although in other markets, including Japan and the US, the Toyota is rated at 382bhp.

The Z’s six-speed manual transmission (a nine speed auto is also offered) features a carbonfibre propshaft and rev-matching – something the 370Z pioneered back in 2008 – plus a launch control function that electronically holds the revs at the optimum level when the clutch is dipped, ensuring the fastest possible getaway when released. ‘Performance grade’ models will also be fitted with a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Aesthetically, the Z draws its inspiration from two of its most famous predecessors, the original 240Z and later 300ZX. The silhouette is pure ’70s Nissan, with a long bonnet, wraparound screen, flat roof and familiar C-pillar motif. The nose, dominated by a single aggressive opening, is flanked by two LED headlights that, together with the surrounding bodywork, mimic the circular lights of the 240Z.

The 300ZX is referenced by the LED tail lights. Yet while there will undoubtedly be disappointment that the new Nissan Z won’t find its way to Europe, enthusiasts like us might reflect that we only have ourselves to blame for not buying cars like these in sufficient numbers…


SPECIFICATION

  • Engine V6, 2997cc, twin- turbo
  • Max Power 400bhp @ 6400rpm
  • Max Torque 350lb ft @ 1600-5600rpm
  • Weight 1475kg (est)
  • Power-to-weight 295bhp/ton (est)
  • 0-62mph 4.5sec (est)
  • Top speed 155mph (limited)
  • Basic price $35,000 (est)

The decline of the small sports coupe

Remove Audi’s TT from the sales charts and the market for small sports coupes makes for depressing reading, no matter where you drive in the world.

Audi’s style icon sold more than 11,000 examples across Europe in 2019, although in the US only 1300 found homes, but it’s the only one to reach five figures – even Porsche’s dynamically superior 718 Boxster/Cayman models found only 7400 buyers in Europe, and, perhaps surprisingly, fewer than 4000 in the US.

But Europe has been slowly falling out of love with small sports coupes for some time, hence why BMW and Mercedes don’t even bother, although the former’s Z4 roadster enabled Toyota to re-enter the scene with the Supra (893 sales in Europe, a little healthier 2200 across the Atlantic). Jaguar keeps the coupe flag flying with over 3000 F-types finding homes in Europe and 2300 in the US, but in the world of global car sales these figures are perilously low and must raise red flags in finance meetings.

The 4300 Alpine A110s that found homes in 2019 represent a rare high and show there is a demand, albeit a small one. And news that Lotus’s new Emira, which operates at the very top of this sector, has performed above expectations in terms of orders is also heartening. But while Nissan’s decision not to bring its new Z-car to Europe (893 370Zs sold in 2019) and leave it for Asia and the US (2300 sales) might be a hard decision to accept, in the current climate it’s a harder one to argue against.

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