How does Z manage?
We drove to Las Vegas for our initial ride on the new Nissan Z. We started on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a shortened track to safely assess its acceleration. It feels strong and pulls hard on lower gears. We did some acceleration in the Performance model with a nine-speed automatic transmission, as well as in the base Sport model with a six-speed manual. The Performance model benefits from start control, which automatically adjusts the car’s gas and traction settings to achieve optimum acceleration for maximum performance. The Sport model with manual transmission is harder to get off the line so quickly because it has no start control or a mechanical rear differential limited ironing that optimizes traction.
At the time of our review, Nissan had not published any estimates regarding Z acceleration. The Infiniti Red Sports we tested earlier was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, and so of course the lighter Z will be even faster. Nissan says the Z with manual equipment weighs about 3,500 pounds, which is about 100 pounds more than the six-cylinder Toyota GR Supra.
Next, the 1.8-mile road course was changed to explore the limits of Z’s handling. The Performance model with manual transmission is definitely the choice for drivers looking for maximum activity. The gear ratio in the manual is well positioned to maintain high engine speeds, and the Z itself is well balanced for driving. Shifting to downshifts helps with automatic speed adjustment, which “switches” the throttle between gears for the smoothest transition. More traditional drivers prefer to press the throttle themselves, and we’re excited to announce that with auto-off disabled, the new Z allows you to perform the classic downshift, as well as any other car with gearshift. This was what was difficult with the old 370Z.
At the speeds of the Z racetrack instills confidence and allows the driver to gradually increase aggression. It’s easy to cause the rear wheels to rotate with little throttle provocation, and when these tires release the clutch and the rear starts to drift, it’s progressive, soft and easy to control. Advanced Performance brake trims do not show performance loss over multiple laps and are just as easy to control.
Overall, the new Z is a fun, balanced and affordable car to drive beyond. Using the Z is easier to find and live on this frontier than the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro with the V8. These cars may be able to go around the track faster, but if you’re looking for all-round driving pleasure, this is a decent track car.