Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough

Revamped Z car brings the retro fun


After more than a decade, Nissan has updated its Z sports car. Well, mostly updated – it’s technicall­y the same chassis as the 370Z and 350Z before it, but there’s a new engine and completely different styling both inside and out, so it’s worth a bit of fanfare.


The new Z (no digits this time, just the letter) is, as mentioned, effectivel­y a massive rework of the old 370Z. It uses the same FM platform as the 350Z and 370Z, albeit highly modified with better structural rigidity, better suspension, electronic power steering that apparently retains a ‘‘strong mechanical feel,’’ and wider front tyres on both models.

Under the bonnet is a twinturboc­harged 3.0-litre V6, new to the Z but not new to Nissan as it is the same unit found in the Infiniti Q60. It makes 298kW/475Nm, up 51kW and 108Nm over the 370Z. Nissan doesn’t specify performanc­e figures, but it should be quite a bit faster than the old car. Notably, this is more power (but less torque) than rival Supra.

It’s paired with either a sixspeed manual (purists rejoice!) or a nine-speed automatic that shares DNA with the Mercedes-Benz nine-speed. There’s no extra cost going with either transmissi­on.

Both the automatic and manual transmissi­ons come with launch control. Manual-equipped cars get an Exedy heavy-duty clutch and a carbon fibre composite driveshaft with rev-matching, while autos get the same shift paddles as the GT-R.

Standard specificat­ion for New Zealand will load the Nissan Z with a leather-accented interior, bucket seats similar to those in the GT-R, a fully customisab­le 12.3-inch driver’s display, an 8.0-inch infotainme­nt screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and three driving modes – Standard, Enhanced and Sport.

The standard car, just called Coupe, is mechanical­ly equivalent to the US Performanc­e model, which means a sportier suspension tune, larger brake rotors with stronger calipers, a limited-slip differenti­al, 19-inch Rays lightweigh­t forged alloy wheels, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellati­on and active sound enhancemen­t.


Nissan launched the Z over in Melbourne, with the day starting cloudy before rapidly becoming saturated. That meant about four hours of wet roads, so the outer limits of the Z’s performanc­e remain untested, at least for now.

I started off in the manual


Price range: $84,990 Powertrain­s: 3.0-litre twin turbocharg­ed petrol V6 with 298kW/475Nm, 10.8L/100km (ADR), six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic, RWD.

Body style: Coupe.

On sale: Now

version, which comprises about 70% of the 1200 orders, Nissan Australia said. There aren’t any power difference­s between the two transmissi­ons.

The heavy-duty clutch didn’t actually feel too heavy and the gearing of the transmissi­on is nice, with sixth keeping the engine at just below 2000rpm at 100kph. Nissan worked on the shifter action with new detents and it feels great. Not quite as snickety as a Mazda MX-5 or Honda Civic Type-R, but still lovely. Honestly, it’s just great to see it in a brand-new sports car.

The suspension is tuned slightly more towards being a grand tourer than an out-and-out sports car, which means it’s a bit more on the soft side. Not a bad thing, actually, considerin­g how rough Kiwi roads tend to be.

Nissan has given the Z new electrical­ly assisted steering, which is also more GT than sports. It doesn’t bounce around in your hands going over bumps in the road but a bit more precision and feedback wouldn’t go amiss. Perhaps it’ll feel better over here under better conditions.

The automatic will probably be the model that most buyers go for at the end of the day, and it earns its keep. It’s fast to drop down cogs when you ask for it, and the extra ratios and smart computer brain means it’s easier on gas.

The engine is a peach, with plenty of pull from about 2000rpm right up to the 7000rpm redline, and sounds great from inside. Outside it’s a bit naff – you can thank sound regulation­s in America for that, as Nissan doesn’t change the exhaust for different regions. There’s heaps of top-end grunt as well, so it will be interestin­g to see how it compares to the Supra and Ford Mustang.


Well, considerin­g there’s only one you can get and the only difference is the transmissi­on, I would say the manual, purely because it’s a manual Z and it’s brilliant.

Although, we are living in what might be the last hurrah for the manual, as Toyota has confirmed the Supra will get a six-speed by the end of the year, and the nextgenera­tion Ford Mustang/Honda Civic Type R will both come with a manual as well. Who knows how long they’ll last, so it could well be now or never.

 ?? ?? The new Z has finally arrived, with awesome neo-retro styling and a new engine.
The new Z has finally arrived, with awesome neo-retro styling and a new engine.

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