2024 Nissan Z Review: A Proper Sports Car

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat is it?
There are many definitions of a proper sports car, but most will agree that a two-seat coupe or convertible with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox is a sports car in its purest form. There aren’t many new models in America that fit this criteria, but one of the most enjoyable and affordable is the Nissan Z.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStrong Heritage
The current Nissan Z was introduced last year, but the Z has been part of the Nissan lineup for over 50 years. While the 2024 Z is a thoroughly modern sports coupe with a powerful twin-turbo engine, it stays true to the formula that made that original 240Z a popular choice in the sports car world. “Simply put, our goal is to make this the best Z yet, period. With each generation, we raise the bar, pushing the limits of Z and continuing to tap into the human instinct for that next thrilling journey,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the new Z.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTest Vehicle
Nissan provided me with a 2024 Nissan Z Performance with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox, painted in one of my favorite colors – two-tone Seiran Blue TriCoat / Super Black. Besides the extra cost for the premium paint color, the test vehicle had floor mats and illuminated kick plates for a total MSRP of $55,510.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCompetitors
The market segment for sports coupes with manual gearboxes is relatively small. Competitors to the Nissan Z include the Subaru BRZ, Toyota GR Supra, Ford Mustang, Porsche 718 Cayman, and BMW M2—most others in this class don’t offer a three-pedal version.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBold Presence
The Nissan Z is immediately recognizable with its squared-off grille and stylish LED headlights, which feature a half-circle daytime running light design influenced by the 1970s 240ZG. While the Z looks good from the front, I prefer the new grille treatment introduced earlier this year on the top-level Z Nismo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHeritage Styling
With its long hood and sleek roofline, the Z not only carries proper sports car proportions but also resembles the shape of the first-generation Z. Bold rear fenders telegraph the rear-wheel drive performance, and the 19-inch RAYS super lightweight forged alloy wheels complete the look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
If those taillights look familiar, it’s because they are very similar to those found on the 1990s 300ZX. The sloping roofline, rear lip spoiler, and dual exhaust outlets emphasize the Z’s performance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStylish Cabin
Following its sporty exterior style, the Nissan Z’s cabin has a purposeful look designed around the driver. As a nice nod to its past and current sporting nature, three classic gauges displaying turbo boost, turbine speed, and voltage are built into the top of the dashboard. My test vehicle had the available Blue Leather interior, which trims the dashboard, center console, doors, and sport seats. It is a bold look, but I like it.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTechnology
The Z Performance comes with a 9-inch touchscreen display that is nicely integrated into the dash, and while the infotainment system is a bit dated, it functions well. I do appreciate the physical volume and tuning knobs, features that seem to be disappearing from many new vehicles. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard. Static shortcuts remain at the bottom of the screen for map, phone, and audio controls, and there are redundant physical buttons below, which I find are easier to use. Climate functions are kept separate with simple, easy-to-use dials below the screen. A digital driver’s display adds to the high-tech look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot Much Utility
It may be stylish and sporty, but utility is not something the Z excels at. The cabin doesn’t have much storage, with a shallow center bin under the armrest, a single cupholder, and a wireless charger pad. Two cubbies behind the front seats can hold a few small items.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Area
The cargo area is easily accessed with a wide opening, but the space is not very deep. With less than seven cubic feet of space, it won’t hold much.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Powering the 2024 Nissan Z is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that puts out 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, all sent to the rear wheels. While many manufacturers have forgone the manual gearbox, I’m pleased to say that the Z comes standard with a 6-speed manual, although a 9-speed automatic is available. The Z will sprint to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds if you shift on your own – while the 9-speed automatic might not be as engaging, it is quicker, completing the same task in 4.3 seconds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
On paper, the Nissan Z should deliver excellent performance, with 400 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and a manual gearbox. I’m happy to report that the paper doesn’t lie. The Z is great fun to drive, with plenty of power on tap for strong acceleration and a manual gearbox placed perfectly for rowing through the gears. With the rev-matching, downshifts are perfect every time, accompanied by a wonderful exhaust note when it blips the throttle.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExcellent Handling
Not only was the Z quick, but it was quite entertaining to push hard on my favorite back roads outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Steering is precise with quick feedback, and the suspension keeps the Z flat, even when taking turns at speed. The car feels planted even when the road isn’t in the best condition, and if you push too hard, the stability control provides a nice safety net without being overly intrusive.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThe Daily Drive
With sport seats that provide excellent support and are also quite comfortable, the Nissan Z is a nice place to spend extended time. However, sports cars usually have some drawbacks when used as a daily driver, and the Z is no exception. The cabin gets very loud at highway speeds, and while I wouldn’t call the ride uncomfortable, any imperfections in the road are quite noticeable. For the entertainment value that this car brings, these may be small prices to pay, but a daily commute could prove wearing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
The sports car market in America is small, with limited competitors. This makes it all the more noteworthy that Nissan understands the importance of staying relevant in this important segment. The 2024 Nissan Z delivers everything expected of a proper sports car. With its head-turning looks, remarkable performance, and plentiful power, it brings great joy to those who get the chance to get behind the wheel. Coupled with the latest convenience and safety technology and a comfortable, sporty interior, the Z is an excellent choice in the world of exciting sports cars.

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