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Japan's Nissan Motor Co Hopes to Get its Mojo Back With the New Z Sports Car

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【Summary】Nissan unveiled its seventh-generation Z sports car in New York on Wednesday night that might help bring back some of the automaker's former glory. It’s a trend in the auto industry to resurrect iconic models and bring them back to life as modern, technologically advanced vehicles. The 2023 Z offers a sleek exterior with a silhouette that’s reminiscent of the original model with a long hood and low rear stance.

FutureCar Staff    Aug 18, 2021 11:15 AM PT
Japan's Nissan Motor Co Hopes to Get its Mojo Back With the New Z Sports Car
The 2023 Nissan Z arrives at dealers in the spring of 2022.

These days, Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. is probably best known for its Leaf EV, one of the world's first mass-produced electric cars. But other than the best-selling Leaf EV,  Nissan's current lineup, including the Sentra, Altima, Rogue and Murano, are a bit dull compared to other new vehicles on the market.

Adding to this is the recent arrest of Nissan's former CEO Carlos Ghosn and his smuggling out of Japan in shipping containers with help from an elite American private-security contractor. Ghosn's escape from Japan was to avoid being sentenced for embezzling millions of dollars from the company to fund a lavish lifestyle. 

It all seems like something out of a Hollywood movie script. But Ghosen's actions and Nissan's lack of exciting new models seriously damaged Nissan's reputation in the auto industry, leading to falling sales and a seemingly uncertain future with no real exciting vehicles in the works to turn things around, that is until now.

Nissan unveiled its seventh-generation Z car in New York on Wednesday that will bring back some of its former glory. It's a trend in the auto industry to resurrect iconic models and bring them back to life as modern, technologically advanced vehicles.

For example, Dodge found success when it brought back the Challenger and Charger, General Motors with the retro-looking Camaro, and more recently Ford resurrected the Bronco as a rugged adventure vehicle for modern times. The new Z car may help Nissan do the same.

The 2023 Z offers a sleek exterior with a silhouette that's reminiscent of the original model with a long hood and low rear stance. The new Z also retains its analog three gauge cluster on top of the dash, a signature feature of all of the previous Z cars that came before. 

We got the first look of the 2023 Nissan Z at the Chicago Auto Show in July, and it was one of the vehicles that got a lot of attention, along with the Ford Bronco, which is the complete opposite of the Z car. 

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All new Z models are equipped with a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. That's up from 336 horsepower of the current 370Z model. The 2023 Z will offer a choice of a standard 6-speed manual transmission with motorsports-inspired EXEDY high-performance clutch, or a new 9-speed automatic transmission with aluminum paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The turbo-charged engine produces 350 lb ft of torque.

Nissan revealed the all-new 2023 Z sports car at Brooklyn's Duggal Greenhouse, about five miles from where the original 1970 Datsun 240Z made its world debut in October 1969. 

The Z was set to debut at the New York Auto Show that was scheduled for this week, but it was abruptly cancelled once again due rising delta variant coronavirus cases.

"When we introduced the Z in 1969, the Z was a revolution. Since then, for more than 50 years, Nissan has brought style, speed, reliability and so much more to millions of enthusiasts around the world," said Ashwani Gupta, representative executive officer and chief operating officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

While the six previous generations of Nissan's iconic sports car all offered numeric designations like the 280Z and 300Z, the redesigned sports cars is simply named "Z".

The original Z cars were focused on driver excitement with powerful engines and nimble handling. Over the years, the Nissan 280Z and 300Z gained a reputation as some of the best production cars for driving enthusiasts, along with the Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra from Nissan's domestic rivals.

"The Z has always been an accessible sports car – always placed at the intersection of aspiration and attainability – of dreams and reality. This latest iteration is now ready to thrill Z enthusiasts, and create a whole new generation of Z fans as well, when it comes to market here in the U.S. early next year," said Gupta.

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The first version to hit U.S. shores was marketed as the Datsun 240Z in the 1970s. Nissan has manufactured six generations of Z-cars over the years, with the most recent being the Nissan 370Z, in production since 2009. Nissan unveiled a 50th anniversary edition for 2020 that completely sold out.

The 2023 Z will be offered in Sport and Performance grade levels and a special "Proto Spec" edition, which is limited to just 240 units.

The 2023 Z is poised to become a big hit for Nissan and might bring people back to the brand. Nissan's deliveries fell by 33% in 2020 to 899,217 vehicles, the lowest numbers since the recession of 2009. 

The new Z sports car also stands out from Nissan's current model lineup, which is primarily made up of SUVs and crossovers in the U.S., along with a handful of unexciting sedans like the Senta and Versa.

The 2023 Z car will launch in the Spring of 2022. 


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