The long awaited Z is a successor to the 370Z and before it the 350Z, with seven generations of Z cars in all.
Rather than being all-new as suggested, it has been developed from the 370Z and sits on a modified version of the same platform — we guess to save money (or there wouldn’t be a new one).
Why no number to go with the Z badge this time around? It’s a good question and one that hasn’t really been answered, but we’ll give it a shot.
Suffice to say Nissan backed itself into a corner. The 350Z had a 3.5-litre engine, the 370Z had a 3.7-litre engine, while the latest Z Coupe comes with a smaller 3.0-litre unit — albeit with two turbos and more power.
Oops. That won’t look good. No one wants to be seen taking a backward step, least of all the Japanese. The easiest way out was to simply call it the Z. After all, it will probably be the last of its kind (at least with an internal combustion engine).
2013 Nissan 370Z
2003 Nissan 350Z
What’s it cost?
Let’s get something straight.
We loved the blunt, chiselled features of the 350Z and appreciated the more cultured lines of the 370Z. But I can’t say we’re massive fans of the new, so-called ‘retro’ look.
Elements have been drawn from previous iterations of the Z, a homage if you like or perhaps a mishmash of iconography depending on your perspective.
It’s reminiscent of something, we’re just not sure what.
At the same time, the profile looks the same and the proportions appear perfect. In fact, it has exactly the same 2550mm wheelbase as its predecessor.
There’s just the one Z, available with a manual or automatic and priced from $73,300 plus on-roads. The Proto launch edition has long since sold out (don’t worry it didn’t get any more power).
Although it costs significantly more, some $20,000 more than the model it replaces, it’s still very good value for money, given the price of its nearest rival – the Toyota Supra – at $87,000. A V8 Mustang is cheaper though, priced from $65,290.
Standard kit includes 19-inch alloys, combination leather and suede sports seats, a steering wheel trimmed in the same combo, along with single zone air conditioning.
Both driver and passenger seats have four-way power adjustment, but seat height and lumbar must be adjusted manually. Both seats are also heated.
There’s also dusk-sensing LED lights (but not auto wipers), and auto-dimming rear view mirror plus front and rear parking sensors.
Infotainment comes in the form of an 8.0-inch infotainment display with Bluetooth, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but not much else, certainly not navigation. Both the 350Z and 370Z came with satnav.
At least the audio is a decent Bose eight-speaker system.
Two USB ports are also provided, 1 x USB-C and 1 x USB-A along with a 12v power outlet inside the console box — but alas no wireless charging.
Z isn’t rated for safety and is unlikely to be tested anytime soon because it is a low volume model.
It does however come with six airbags, active head restraints and a rear view camera.
It’s also equipped with autonomous emergency braking (pedestrian detection), adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and speed sign recognition.
There’s also an Isofix child seat tether, although we’re not sure it can be legally used in this country.
The Z Coupe is covered by a 5-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with 5-year roadside assistance.
Servicing is required every 10,000km, with capped price servicing for 60,000km or 72 months (whichever comes first).
All up it comes to $2965 for the first six services in the manual.
What’s it go like?
The Z’s two-seat cabin is accessed via the same awkward door handles as before.
If you’re left-handed, great. If you’re right-handed, like most people, they’re a pain in the butt.
And for anyone with a few years under their belt, getting in and out can be a chore and not something you want to do frequently.
Once you’re in, it’s fine, provided you are able to find the adjustment to put the seat back, which is hidden between the seat and centre console. That’s where you adjust the seat back too — both electrically.
Height and lumbar need to be adjusted manually.
On first sight, the cabin looks swish, with a combo of suede and leather trim, together with red highlights and a fully digitised instrument cluster that can be switched between three different views: Normal, Sport and Enhanced.
Not sure what the last one is all about, apart from the fact it turns the dials on their side like the system found in other brands.
In Sport mode, the tacho takes pride of place in the centre of the display, with an electronic upshift alert at the top, and the ability to display G-force and boost control.
There’s also metal pedals and a signature instrument binnacle with three dials perched atop the dash – for boost, turbo fan speed and voltage.
So far so good, but what’s this yank-it-on handbrake, and where’s satnav and head-up display? They’re missing in action and it makes you wonder whether they didn’t make the cut to save dough?
Nissan hasn’t pulled any punches with the main event, however, with big increases in power and torque.
The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 produces 298kW of power at 6400 rpm and 475Nm of torque in a broad range between 1600 and 5600 rpm.
The 370Z in comparison offered 245kW at 7000 rpm and 363Nm at 5200 rpm. That’s an increase of almost 22 and 31 per cent respectively, with the dash from 0-100km/h taking around 4.5 seconds (Supra is quicker).
Transmission is via a short throw, six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox with rev matching, that is paired with a high-performance Exedy clutch, with drive to the rear wheels through a carbon-fibre driveshaft and mechanical limited slip diff.
A nine-speed auto is a no-cost option, with drive-by-wire and aluminium paddle-shifters. The auto gets two drive modes– Standard and Sport.
Our manual test vehicle has a hill-hold function and there is also a Sport button, but we’re still not sure what the latter actually does and so far have not been able to find any reference to it?
Both the auto and manual come with launch-control. Nice to have but most drivers can never figure out how to use it — and even if they can it’s rarely revisited.
Bonnet, doors and hatch are aluminium, along with the front sub-frame – to save weight. Cross braces are also fitted to reinforce rigidity, and can be found under the bonnet and behind the seats backs as shown.
Suspension is a combination of double wishbones and a multi-link setup at the rear, with stoppers from Akebono — 355mm front and 350mm rear, combined with floating aluminium four-piston callipers and two-piston units down the back.
The 19-inch rims are fitted with staggered Bridgestone Potenza S007 tyres — 255/40s front and 275/35s rear. Michelins would have been better, methinks?
Z has always attracted criticism for the level of noise amplified by the empty boot space. This time active noise cancellation is employed to quiet the cabin, while active sound enhancement adds a more pleasing engine note.
Driving the Z Coupe as you might imagine is much like its predecessor the 370Z.
Acceleration is strong, the manual change is mostly easy to use and the car turns in nicely, with plenty of mid-corner grip.
Short-shifting from first works best, with a surprising amount of torque available, all the way through to fifth gear in fact, often negating the need to change down a gear.