2023 Nissan Z Sport, Performance, Proto Spec – 71Bait

The Nissan Z 2023 is the new hotness in the sports car scene. What else do you expect when such an iconic nameplate gets a major redesign? Still, that spotlight comes with scrutiny, and opinions are mixed as to where the new Z-car stands among its peers. We tested it (twice) and pitted it against both natural competitors like the Toyota Supra 3.0 and unnatural ones like the Ford Mustang Mach 1. Even though the Nissan fell behind in both duels, that doesn’t mean it’s undesirable. To identify our ideal versions, we let three of our editors loose on the Z’s online configurator. Somehow, without planning (Pinky Promise), each person chose one of three different disguises to specify. This is what they chose:

Eric Stafford’s $43,110 Nissan Z Sport

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2023 nissan z sport interior

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Without the limited slip differential, upgraded brakes and stickier tires, is the Nissan Z as good as the performance model with all that spec? Probably not. But I have a different take on it. The performance model didn’t fare as well 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 $10,000 and sticking with the base level Z Sport trim. After all, it has the same 400hp 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo as the more expensive version. Also, I would have extra money to buy better summer tires than those Bridgestone Potenza S007s found at the performance. The Z’s price isn’t affected if I choose the nine-speed automatic or the six-speed manual, but I’d choose the latter because, duh. My Sport model would also have the complimentary Black Diamond Pearl paint job, but I’d beautify its look with the dealer-installed chin spoiler ($170) and rear spoiler ($630). Unfortunately I’m stuck with a boring black cloth interior as there are no other color options or material options on the base model. I’d still upgrade the space with the $400 illuminated door sills and $445 ambient interior lighting to make it feel a little more elegant after dark. All told, my 23 Z Sport is $43,110. —Eric Stafford

Jack Fitzgerald’s $54,470 Nissan Z Performance

2023 nissan z performance front

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2023 nissan z performance interior

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The whole point of the Z is having fun without breaking the bank, right? Every new Z gets the same amount of performance, but splurge a little and Nissan will add a few performance features. So I went with the Z Performance model, which upgraded the brakes, stiffened the suspension and offered a limited-slip differential. I opted for the two-tone paintwork with Passion Red and Super Black on the roof. The paint cost me $1700, but damn it’s a sports car. Why go boring on the paint? I added the clear hood guard for another $170. Instead of spending on exterior options – there aren’t many to be honest – why not save some cash for a body kit? My interior options cost another $1600, with the virtual key and dual camera recording system taking the brunt of the damage. I’ve also indulged in lighted door panels to remind me what I bought every time I get in and out of the car. Total for my mostly frugal, performance-oriented Z is $54,470. —Jack Fitzgerald

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

2023 nissan z proto spec front

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2023 nissan z proto spec interior

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Z cars love a flashy special edition, don’t they? Remember the 280Z with the Zap performance package? It was sold painted Sunburst Yellow with nice 1970s stripes and rear window louvers that were definitely ruined by a walnut tree later in life. It was eventually surpassed by the 1988 Super Shiro edition of the 300ZX, which featured 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 celebrate not only a 40th anniversary edition, but a 50th anniversary edition a decade later. And as a co-owner of a Z31, “Special” might as well be my middle name. I would go for the most valuable of the current Zs, the top-Proto Spec.

Only 240 will be sold in the US, and according to Nissan’s website, four of them are within 50 miles of my cabin. In fact, after updating the site, that number curiously grew to 47. However, a more serious investigation revealed that they were all spoken a long time ago. So it looks like I won’t get another Z after all. Oh well. When one finally shows up on Bring a Trailer, what – how car and driver—is part of Hearst Autos and will sport the Proto Spec’s two-tone Ikazuchi Yellow livery with a Super Black roof. It will also have a set of exclusive 19-inch Rays Engineering bronze forged wheels, yellow Akebono brake calipers and various pieces of yellow interior. I would of course prefer the six-speed manual with automatic rev-matching to the nine-speed automatic. As a purist, it’s my responsibility to buy the weird editions with color options that are as weird as fishing lures, despite the personal sacrifice. Sure, you can get the Ikazuchi yellow on any of the Z trims, but nobody likes a pretender. Later, when (hopefully) Nissan gives their latest sports car the NISMO treatment, I’ll be quicker with the build and price tool. If the $55,310 special launch model price is any indication, I may 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 up to the Nissan dealership and buy a Mustang or Camaro. A ’22 Camaro SS with the 1LE Track Performance package starts at $45,895—only $4,880 more than a non-optional Z Sport manual. —David Bart

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