Good taste returns: Peter Brock drives the new Nissan Z | Column

Photograph Courtesy Nissan

The wait has been worth it. Nissan’s long-expected delivery date for the new 2023 Z is finally happening, and those who’ve had their orders in early are going to be more than thrilled. 

I recently had an opportunity to test drive several pre-production variants of Nissan’s svelte new GT on track here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as on the surrounding roads and came to the very solid conclusion that I’m going to get one! Most interesting to some of the Nissan execs, who were there to observe and listen to commentary from a wide variety of invited journalists, was my personal selection. 

Even without inquiring about price, I selected the least expensive model (under 40 grand MSRP with delivery) because its clean, uncluttered form looked best with the standard 18-inch wheels. As I’m a designer, the visual aesthetics of the new Z are one of my primary considerations because I know I’d be using it as a daily driver. I don’t want some nagging visual compromise spoiling what I feel is going to be a longterm relationship. Sure, I knew the ensuing performance considerations after the day’s testing were going to affect my final selection, but there were none.

The car’s overall lines, created by design chief Alfonso Albaisa, are a sensitive throwback to the lines of the original 240Z, with which my BRE race team had such great competition successes in the ’70s. The single visual detail, other than exterior color, that confirmed my choice was the wheels: a subtle, golden-hued, five-spoke wheel that had never been revealed in any of the early tease images seen during the new Z’s long development period. 

With the exception of the special bronze, 19-inch competition wheels on Nissan’s striking yellow, super-rare, Proto Spec Z variant, of which only 240 units will be available in America, every other Z coupe on hand for testing was equipped with all-black 18- or 19-inch rims. 

Nice, lightweight, contemporary-looking wheels, yes, but I have this personal aversion to all-black wheels with black tires. With no circular design element separating tire from wheel, such as a simple polished rim, the dull all-black combination creates two massive dark holes in the Z’s side view that tend to disrupt the car’s visual form. 

All black is a trendy look adapted from current competition cars. Because brake dust-covered wheels tend to look ill maintained in photos, the questionable solution from many team’s marketing suits was to go all black. Stupid. In time, it’s a trend that’s going to fade, so keep that in mind when planning your future ride. 

The main reason I selected this latest five-spoke was its more traditional form that’s in keeping with the era of the original 240Z’s iconic lines. The style looks just right, ’specially with a Gun Metallic silver-gray exterior. 

So what about the new Z’s performance? For a guy who grew up and took pride mastering heel-and-toe downshifts with a multi-speed transmission, I never thought I’d choose an automatic, but this new Z’s nine-speed is so smooth and fast there’s no way you can match quarter-mile times or top-end trap speed with a manual! I was impressed. With the Z’s built-in launch-control, you can seamlessly do the quarter about 1.5 seconds faster than with the manual. For an everyday driver it’s the way to go, as it’ll smoke the opposition on any on-ramp.  

I did try to catch a really talented pro driver Nissan had on hand to do some lead-follow training, and I have to admit that the six-speed manual is definitely superior on track, as you can do a better job of selecting the right rpm for each corner combination. 

As for all the rest, trust me, if you’ve been lusting after any Z-car, this one is the best so far. I won’t even go into all the subtle interior options and performance upgrades. For the street, you can’t touch this new “low-buck” Z with the latest wheels for less than another 20 grand.

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Da_Wolverine New Reader
5/17/22 7:04 p.m.

A second and a half???  Since Brock said it, I gotta believe it.  After all, he designed the Daytonas and raced the 240s!

I speculate that with 9 speeds, one is shifting often and the RPMs don't drop much, which is a very good thing, keeping one near the peak of the torque curve and horsepower curve.  A second and a half is a whopping large time differential.  Thinking it through, I can kinda see it.

Thanks, Peter, for your report.    I might be trading in my 350 Z Cabriolet.    

map2050 New Reader
5/18/22 1:47 p.m.

Thanks for the great review on the latest Z-Car! I am with you on the "trending" of black wheel/tire phase. Not my thing. And yes, brake dust can be an issue that spoils the whole look. When I needed brakes for my '06 Volvo V70R (Sonic Blue w/silver rims) I opted for Akebono ceramic pads and they really make a difference in reducing brake dust. I like the pedal feel as well. And the traditional Pegasus silver 5-spoke rims stay fresh now so the car always looks good! 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/28/22 1:32 p.m.

As someone currently rocking some black wheels, I admit, yes, they can turn into two black spheres. 

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