The 2023 Nissan Z is shaping up to be a compelling sports car value. We learned yesterday that the Z will start at about $40,000, placing it right between the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota Supra 3.0, but offering more power than both. Nissan is also streamlining the trims for 2023, narrowing it down to just two: Sport and Performance. Here's what you can expect from each.
No matter which trim you choose, you'll be getting what's important — the 400-horsepower, twin-turbo V6 that's at the heart of the new Z. This is fantastic news, as Toyota saddles the base Supra with a four-cylinder that we found somewhat lacking, and it's still $4,000 more than the base Z (to get the full six cylinders, you'll have to fork over at least $12,000 more).
However, the differences between the Z Sport and Z Performance are not negligible, and we can see a compelling reason to spring for the higher grade. For example, both trims are available with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, but only the Performance will have downshift rev-matching and launch control. And perhaps most crucially, only the Performance comes standard with a clutch-type limited slip differential.
Even if you choose the optional 9-speed automatic, the top grade gives you some perks. Both trims have paddle shifters, but only the Performance has aluminum-style ones that Nissan says share a design with those from the GT-R.
Beneath the sleek new sheetmetal, both grades come with a newly tuned aluminum double-wishbone suspension with large-diameter monotube shocks upgraded from their 370Z predecessor. However, the Performance's is "sport-tuned," and although Nissan has not specified exactly what that means, we presume it's stiffer springs and sport dampers.
Sport models will come with standard 18x9-inch alloys in dark gray at all four corners, each wrapped in Yokohama Advan Sport high-performance 248/45-R18 tires. Behind them, speed is scrubbed by fixed cast-iron 2-piston calipers over 12.6 x 1.10-inch rotors in front, single-piston 12.1 x 0.63-inch rotors at the rear.
The Performance model, on the other hand, employs a staggered setup using forged aluminum alloys by famed Japanese race and aftermarket supplier Rays Wheels, 19x9.5 inches in front, 19x10 at the rear. They're wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza S007 high-performance tires, sized 255/40-R19 and 275/35-R19, respectively. The top trim also comes with aluminum floating 4-pot calipers in front, painted in red and paired with larger 14.0 x 1.26-inch discs. Rear calipers have 2 pots each, matched with 13.8 x 0.79-inch discs.
Exterior changes are minimal, with the Performance adding heated door mirrors, a front chin spoiler and a tasteful rear deck lip spoiler. The Sport comes with chrome-capped exhaust tips, while the Performance comes with a sport muffler. The cabin, on the other hand, is where you'll find more significant upgrades.
Your backsides will notice the upgraded seats on the Performance (above left), and it's not just the suede inserts and leather appointments. Nissan says these seats have a unique cushion and side bolster design, presumably to hold you in as you utilize what the company says is a 13-percent increase in cornering ability over the old 370Z.
Performance also adds heated seats and 8-way power adjustability on the driver's side, 4-way power adjustability on the passenger's side. However, we'd probably prefer the Sport's plain cloth seats, as these weight-accumulating features aren't critical to, you know, performance. B sadly, if you want the sportier hardware you have to get the heavier seats as well. A few minor interior trim details round out the Performance upgrades, including aluminum trimmed pedals, suede door panel inserts and, strangely, a dampened glove box lid.
Lastly, the Infotainment gets a noticeable bump in the higher trim. Sport models come with an 8.0-inch center console touchscreen, but Performance models up that to 9.0. Likewise, the standard 6-speaker Nissan audio system gives way to a Bose 8-speaker system with active noise cancellation and sound enhancement when you opt for the Performance. Fortunately, Bluetooth, Sirius XM, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all trims.
Likewise, both trims get all the modern safety features like intelligent cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and forward collision warning, blind sport and land departure warnings, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Only Performance models will get a HomeLink, a wifi hotspot, and NissanConnect services.
In addition, Nissan is launching the car with 240 units of a Proto Spec special edition based the Performance trim. As an homage to the Z Proto concept, these will feature yellow brake calipers with the Z logo, the Rays 19-inch wheels finished in bronze, yellow accents on the seats and yellow stitching throughout the interior, and an exclusive shift knob on manual-equipped cars.
In short, we want everything that's on the outside of the Performance package — the diff, sport suspension, brakes and wheels — but could do without the stuff inside. On the other hand, if you're planning to dip heavily into the aftermarket with your new Z, as we suspect many owners will, then the Sport might be the more desirable option. Nissan hasn't announced pricing on the Performance or Proto Spec cars yet. We'll know more as we near the on-sale date in spring of 2022.
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