- The 2023 Nissan Z represents the 7th generation of the two-door, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe that dates back to 1969 with the Datsun 240Z.
- Labeled as the RZ34, the 2023 Nissan Z isn’t a completely new car — it shares the previous generation 370’s platform and chassis; however, approximately 80% of the parts are either new or updated.
- Powered by a 400hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 borrowed from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, the Z goes 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 13.5 seconds.
- Originally slated for release in the Spring of 2022, supply chain issues caused horrendous delays. As a result, customers are still waiting, dealers are hiking up prices, and the 2022 SEMA Show lacked Z presence.
- Two months following SEMA, the 41st annual Tokyo Auto Salon welcomed more than 20 modified Z builds and gave enthusiasts a sneak preview of the Japanese aftermarket.
- Kei Miura, owner and founder of Pandem and Rocket Bunny, developed his signature widebody conversions that were well received, in particularly the demo vehicle featured inside the TRUST/GReddy booth.
In our last two Tokyo Auto Salon stories, I’ve recounted our top ten underrated builds as well as the two most significant Super GT reveals. Now, I’ll be shedding some light on the most popular and trending vehicle of the show…the 2023 Nissan Z.
TURNING THE CORNER
Pit+Paddock first covered the new Z at Nissan’s spectacular Brooklyn reveal event in August of 2021. Since then, there’s been a ton of waiting around due to supply chain issues. As a result, we saw very few new Z parts or builds at last November’s SEMA Show. The good news is that we might be turning the corner. Last month’s Tokyo Auto Salon shed some light on the new Z platform with more than 20 modified examples on display.
Before I dive into the Z at Auto Salon, I wanted to give my two cents on the car. A few months ago, I was lucky enough to spend a week behind the wheel of this Passion Red Performance model. As a Toyota GR Supra owner for the last three years, I’ll warn you that I’m already going to be its toughest critic. I have never been a fan of the Z’s looks. There are styling cues that date back to the Datsun 240Z and Z32 300ZX, which in my opinion makes the Z look a bit confused. The interior also feels a bit too much like the outgoing 370Z despite the upgraded instrument cluster, touchscreen display, and steering wheel. Of course, looks are totally subjective, and what doesn’t rock my socks might be someone else’s treasure.
FAST & FUN
That said, I was pleased with its overall driver feel and handling competence. Those that are familiar with the 370Z will find a similar experience — the RZ34 shares the same platform as the outgoing Z. It feels just as comfortable navigating corners at speed as the old chassis. Where the new Z really sets itself apart, though, is power: 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft to be exact. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is borrowed from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport and really brings this two-door sports coupe to life. Despite the power plant upgrade, the engine and exhaust did lack some noise, which are two areas I’d address right away. Power aside, I definitely caught myself smiling a bit while running through the six-speed manual gearbox. Woes of not having the manual option in my GR Supra…
GROWING ON ME
Do I think the Z is as good as the Supra? It’s apples and oranges, but I don’t believe it’s as refined nor as appealing with it being a heavily rehashed 370Z. I do tip my hat to Nissan for bringing it back with more power, forced induction, and a manual option; it shows that they still care about their hardcore fans and enthusiasts. Honestly, if they just would’ve taken a more innovative approach to the design, I might be more of a Z guy. But hey, that’s what the aftermarket is for.
Being able to see so many interpretations of the RZ34 at Tokyo Auto Salon — from widebody conversions to subtle lip kits with wheels and suspension — I’ll say that the new Z is starting to grow on me. So, without further ado, here are the most significant Z builds from TAS 2023:
You never know who you’re going to run into on a flight from LA to Tokyo the week of Auto Salon. I was ordering breakfast at LAX and ran into Kenji Sumino of GReddy Performance Products. Coincidentally, he also happened to be sitting next to me on the plane! After traveling with him for 12 hours, he hooked me up with early access into Tokyo Auto Salon the night before the show started. That night, I caught a glimpse of Kei Miura, owner of Pandem/Rocket Bunny, rolling in his latest creation to the TRUST/GReddy booth — the dark blue RZ34 seen here. The riveted-on fenders are a staple of the Pandem line, while the longer shark-like nose with vents and tall duckbill spoiler gave the Z a wicked cool profile. For show-stopping purposes, the air suspension dropped the car so low that it rested on its frame, which helped make this Z the most eye-catching of the show.
CUSCO & RAYS
I spotted two more Pandem-kitted Nissan Zs. They weren’t as jaw-dropping as Miura’s, but both were equally captivating in their own right. The black car was found in the Cusco booth, and it looked so evil with red door accents and gunmetal Enkei wheels. The other was spotted in the RAYS booth and belonged to a Formula DRIFT Japan competitor (Goodride Motorsports) that sat on bright Gram Lights 57CR wheels.
We’ll have more on HKS later as the company pulled out all the stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The HKS demo Z had the most complete program: a widebody kit, carbon engine covers, suspension braces, coilovers, blow-off valve kit, two different exhaust options, and a Power Editor (modern boost controller). The “Tune the Next” graphics were a bit distracting, but if you take that away, this Z would be hard to not admire.
Not a fan of big widebodies? Varis came out with a very sleek carbon fiber body kit under their Arising brand name. A pair of RZ34s shared the same kit; however, the white demo car went a step further with a vented carbon hood and carbon ducktail spoiler. There were also smaller details (i.e. carbon canards and carbon front bumper fender trim pieces) that flowed into paint-matched fender add-ons.
Blitz unveiled its Fairlady Z GT concept, which in my opinion, was the cleanest-looking Z at the show. My favorite part about the aero package was the front lip that cleverly hid LED accent lighting. The Z also rocked some seriously big brakes behind 20-inch Enkei RS05RRs.
Hiroshima’s king of stance and stretched tires was not holding anything back with its bright yellow Z. “Slammed” is an understatement with the 326Power RZ34, especially after seeing the color-matched lip kit flat-out resting on the carpet. The rear wing was a nice touch that followed 326Power’s extreme drift style. This car will rustle some feathers, but overall, it was undeniably attention-grabbing.
Imagination is something that doesn’t run short at Tokyo Auto Salon. So is the case with the Crewch drag-style Z. Fitted with an aluminum front splitter, rear wing, and massive Hoosier tires with Weld Racing wheels in the rear, we learned that this Z hit the drag strip last November. However, we can’t confirm what time it ran or if it even has monster horsepower under the hood.
VEILSIDE & SUPER GT
There were many more Z builds at Auto Salon fitted with wheels and suspension, but I’ll leave you with the Veilside widebody and Super GT race car. If you ask me, the Veilside Z feels a little too Fast & Furious for my liking, but I understand some folks might be into that sort of thing.
As for “my boy blue”, you’re looking at the 2022 Super GT champion. This GT500-winning car was driven by Calsonic Team Impul. The Calsonic livery on a Nissan race car, which dates back to 1983, never gets old. So damn cool that they’re still racking up championships today!