How the 2023 Nissan Z Takes What’s Old and Makes It New Again

September 10th, 2021 by

A blue 2023 Nissan Z is shown from the front driving.

What’s old is new again, and what’s new is inspired by the evolution of what’s old. That seems to be the general philosophy that resonates throughout the creative design concepts of the 2023 Nissan Z. This happens to be Nissan’s premier production sports car for the new model year and will be hitting Joliet car dealerships in the spring of 2022. As enthusiasts “oohed” and “awed” at the reveal that took place in New York on August 17, they were also reminded of the rich history of Nissan’s Z cars. The lines are fresh but familiar. The styling is unique but subtle.

Nissan decided to take one of their most cherished nameplates and spark talk around town once more by making the 2023 Nissan Z both fiercely contemporary and yet also fashionably recognizable. Fans of the popular Z culture will find themselves intimately drawn to some of the car’s more lavish features while still being able to appreciate its more conventional charms and architecture.

A Fairlady Nod

One of the first things most enthusiasts noticed about the new 2023 Nissan Z is that the rear is very reminiscent of the original coupe that Nissan introduced as the Fairlady Z back in 1969. In the U.S., the first Z was known as the Datsun 240Z and instantly took the market by storm with its unique look and design. The rear featured the iconic slope in the C-Pillar that saw a smooth curvature from the roofline that flowed down into the vehicle’s rear quarter-panel.

This specific architecture helped give the Fairlady Z that sporty look that would echo throughout the annals of automotive history. It’s a distinct shape, with a shortened backend compared to the elongated front hood. It gives the impression that there’s a lot of engine up front, with little baggage in the rear. While that design has been modified and refined over the years, especially as we saw how the entire length of the vehicle was shortened with the 370Z, Nissan decided to go back to something a little more classic with the 2023 Nissan Z.

The compact design that the Z cars began to adopt over the years was traded in for a leaner, sleeker look for the 2023 model year. The lines are exceptionally smooth, highlighting the new Z’s refined approach to a classic mold made modern. This is all done without being gaudy or over-stylized, which is sometimes a fault of other modern sports cars and supercars.

The black interior of a 2023 Nissan Z shows the steering wheel.

Respecting the Roots

The seventh-generation Nissan Z is rooted in a deep respect for the first generation of the Z brand, which is something that Nissan’s senior vice president of global design noted to the press. “Our designers listened to thousands of current Z owners, made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success. Ultimately, we decided the Z should travel between the decades, including the future.”

You can see that it’s not just a redesigned rear that hearkens back to the early first model years. The entire front fascia is a contemporary nod to the Datsun days. The oval-eyed headlights on the hood from the first and second generations are incorporated into the streamlined design of the 2023 Nissan Z, where the oval shape is retained. But instead of the headlights being a concave design within the hood, they rest upfront and on top, as was common during the fifth and sixth generation of the Z.

The front fascia’s grille is also lovingly crafted to rekindle that first-gen look, only modified to accommodate the aerodynamic expectations for today’s generation of sports car enthusiasts. Gone is the metal bumper obstructing the airflow; in its place is a wide grille supported by a body-colored air dam to help with wind resistance. It’s all the aesthetic niceties that helped make the original Z stand out when it first made its debut on the market, but with all of the technological advancements that we’ve come to expect from today’s automotive engineering.

The entire rear fascia and bumper also take a little bit of inspiration from the first and third generations, with a squared away finish that helps contrast against the very rounded roofline and C-pillar. Nissan even updated the backend with LED taillights to bridge the gap between the classic and the modern. There’s still a strong synergy of cross-generational aesthetics that emanates from the entire car, making it look both familiar and yet completely new.

There’s Nothing Old About the Interior

Nissan may have exerted a lot of effort to make the new 2023 Nissan Z appeal to the old-school fandom that grew up loving the Z from the first generation to the most recent model year, but that doesn’t mean everything they put into the car is about nostalgia. The interior has been fine-tuned to be as modern as possible, including a standard 12.3-inch digital information cluster that features all the advanced vehicle telemetrics a driver could desire. The driver’s display is accompanied by a second display in the center console stack.

The second display is an 8-inch touchscreen (9-inch in the higher Touring trim), which features all the basic apps and options drivers have come to expect from a modern sports car. This includes everything from profile pages and navigation suite to WiFi hotspot support and integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This means you always have access to your favorite media. The infotainment suite reminds drivers that there’s nothing outdated or ancient about the interior of the 2023 Nissan Z.

The 6-speed manual transmission also reminds drivers that the tradition of harnessing the Z’s power is still at your fingertips. However, if the twin-turbo V6 engine with its 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque is a little too quick for you to manage, the option of a 9-speed automatic transmission is available. Another neat addition that makes the 2023 Nissan Z accessible is the fact that the 9-speed automatic transmission also comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. So even if you don’t feel confident in being able to shift with a clutch, the automatic transmission still gives you complete control over gear changes.

A blue 2023 Nissan Z is shown from the side driving on an open road after leaving a Joliet car dealership.

Respecting the History of Z

It’s quite apparent from the 2023 Nissan Z’s design that Nissan has gone well out of its way to find cross-cultural appeal for the newest sports car. It’s not so far removed from its more modern adaptations that it seems foreign to those who have become accustomed to the 370Z. However, its design also embodies so many classical elements from the earlier generations that it doesn’t alienate the classical enthusiasts who still enjoy and celebrate the rich history of the Z car’s humble beginnings.

For people who love the contemporary changes made to Nissan’s grand tourer over the last several years, you’re still being treated to a vehicle that does nothing to diminish those updates. In fact, one striking twist to the 2023 Z is the color options, which include six two-tone exterior colors. This nice little visual add-on sees the roof painted in a glossy Super Black contrasting the striking solid body color below the seat line. Nissan has been promoting the 2023 Nissan Z with the two newest colors in the line-up, Seiran Blue and Ikazuchi Yellow, which are available in the two-tone livery. It really helps to create that very modern sensibility that Nissan hoped to achieve with the 2023 model.

The design philosophy for the new Nissan Z should elicit some interesting reactions from enthusiasts. It will also likely get many gear heads and tuner aficionados checking in with Joliet car dealerships to order their very own 2023 Nissan Z. But more importantly, how do you feel about the new look of Nissan’s front-line sports car? Do you like the callbacks to the old Fairlady architecture? How about the front and rear fascia paying tribute to the early generations of the Z? Are the modern touches what you were expecting? Let us know when you visit us to see the new Nissan Z in person.