How We'd Spec It: 2023 Nissan Z Sport, Performance, and Proto Spec

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The 2023 Nissan Z is the new hotness on the sports-car scene. What else do you expect when such an iconic nameplate gets a substantial redesign? Still, that spotlight comes with scrutiny, and opinions are mixed on where the new Z car stands among its peers. We’ve tested it (twice) and put it up against natural rivals like the Toyota Supra 3.0 as well as unnatural ones like the Ford Mustang Mach 1. While the Nissan fell short in both face-offs, it doesn’t mean it’s undesirable. To identify our ideal versions, we set three of our editors loose on the Z’s online configurator. Somehow, without any planning (pinky promise), each person picked one of the three distinct trims to spec. These are what they chose:

Eric Stafford’s $43,110 Nissan Z Sport



Is the Nissan Z without the limited-slip diff, upgraded brakes, and stickier tires as good as the Performance model that has all that equipment? Probably not. But I have a different way of looking at it. The Performance model wasn’t as good as the BMW M240i, Ford Mustang Mach 1, or Toyota Supra 3.0 in our comparison test. That tells me I’d be better off saving the $10K and sticking with the base-level Z Sport trim. After all, it has the same 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 as the pricier version. Plus, I’d have extra money to purchase better summer tires than the Bridgestone Potenza S007s found on the Performance. The Z’s price isn’t affected whether I choose the nine-speed automatic or the six-speed manual, but I’d pick the latter because, Duh. My Sport model would also have the no-cost Black Diamond Pearl paint, but I’d dress up its appearance with the dealer-installed chin spoiler ($170) and rear spoiler ($63o). Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a boring black cloth interior, as there are no other color options or materials choices on the base model. I’d still enhance the space with the $400 illuminated sill plates and the $445 ambient interior lighting to make it feel a little ritzier after dark. All told, my ’23 Z Sport totals $43,110. —Eric Stafford

Jack Fitzgerald’s $54,470 Nissan Z Performance



The whole point of the Z is having fun without breaking the bank, right? Every new Z gets the same amount of power, but splurge a little and Nissan will add a few performance features. That’s why I chose the Z Performance model, which upgrades the brakes, tightens the suspension, and provides a limited-slip differential. I went for the two-tone paint with Passion Red and Super Black on the roof. The paint ran me $1700, but heck, it’s a sports car. Why go boring on the color? I added the clear hood protector for another $170. Rather than spend on exterior options—truthfully, there aren’t many—why not save some money for a body kit? My interior options ran another $1600, with the virtual key and dual-camera recording system dealing the brunt of the damage. I also splurged on illuminated door panels to remind myself what I bought each time I get in and out of the car. The total out the door on my mostly economical, performance-oriented Z comes to $54,470. —Jack Fitzgerald

Austin Irwin’s $55,310 Nissan Z Proto Spec



Z cars love a swanky special edition, don’t they? Remember the 280Z with the Zap appearance package? It was sold coated in Sunburst Yellow paint, with lovely 1970s striping and rear window louvers that definitely got ruined by a walnut tree later in life. It would eventually be outdone by the 1988 300ZX’s Super Shiro edition with bright white metallic paint, Recaro bucket seats, and arguably the best coil springs from the many Z31 iterations of that generation’s five-year run. Of course, a NISMO 350Z would follow, and then the 370Z would show up in 2009 to commemorate not only a 40th Anniversary Edition but also a 50th Anniversary Edition a decade later. And as a fellow Z31 owner myself, special might as well be my middle name. I’d spring for the most precious of the current Zs, the top Proto Spec.

Only 240 will be sold in the U.S., and according to Nissan’s website, four of them are within 50 miles of my cubicle. Actually, after refreshing the website, that number curiously grew to 47. However, a more serious investigation revealed they were all spoken for long ago. So it looks like I’m not getting another Z after all. Oh well. When one eventually shows up on Bring a Trailer, which—like Car and Driver—is part of Hearst Autos, it will wear the Proto Spec’s two-tone Ikazuchi Yellow paint with a Super Black roof. It will also have a set of exclusive bronze 19-inch Rays Engineering forged wheels, yellow Akebono brake calipers, and various bits and pieces of yellow interior trim. I’d of course prefer the six-speed manual with automatic rev matching versus the nine-speed automatic. As a purist, it’s my responsibility, despite the personal sacrifice, to purchase the weird editions with paint options as strange as fishing lures. Sure, you can get the Ikazuchi Yellow on any of the Z trims, but nobody likes a pretender. Later, when (I hope) Nissan gives its newest sports car the NISMO treatment, I’ll be quicker with the build-and-price tool. Although, if the special launch model’s $55,310 pricing is any indication, I might need to sell a few project cars before adding a future collectible to my cart. —Austin Irwin

Dave Beard’s $45,895 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE . . . Wait, What?

I would drive right past the Nissan dealer and buy a Mustang or Camaro. A ’22 Camaro SS with the 1LE Track Performance package starts at $45,895—only $4880 more than an unoptioned Z Sport manual. —David Beard

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Source: Motor -


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