Arguably the most anticipated introduction of the 2021 New York Auto Show would have been the 2023 Nissan Z. That is until the show was scrubbed just a few weeks before the doors were scheduled to open. As is customary with high profile vehicle debuts lately, Nissan scheduled a pre-unveiling at the Duggal Greenhouse inside Brooklyn’s once off limits Navy Yard. This meant most of the rest of the world would see the new Z as is also customary these days, via livestream. Being only a ten minute walk away from where seen.today is produced, Nissan invited us to see the new Z first hand and share what we saw with you.
Having attended a couple events in the Greenhouse before and knowing the large size of the space, I figured Nissan had a big production planned. It was clear from the pristine yellow 240Z displayed outside the venue that this would likely include a review of the entire Z lineage.
Inside were 8 more Zs, highlighting the design evolution through the generations of street cars and one example of an early 1972 240Z race car. All of these cars were sourced from owners local to NYC. It was interesting to chart how the design of elements like the headlights and front grille evolved over time to blend technology advancements and stylistic tastes.
As for the 2023 Z, it is shockingly close to the Z Proto Concept that preceded it. The car was debuted in two hues, yellow and blue. The limited edition launch yellow color does a better job of revealing the exterior surface lines and forms. The new Z isn’t overly fussy and while it references elements of past models, it’s far from a retro design. There’s a stronger appearance of continuity with the 240 and 300 models with elements like the headlights, grille and taillights. The overall silhouette looks leaner and tighter over the outgoing 370 model.
The controversial rectangular front grille has been broken up with a slat pattern insert that mimics the shape of the taillights. It would be interesting to see how this would change the look of the front end if this piece were painted body color. There’s also the addition of a license plate which will likely appear to float in the center of this largely black void. That will have a pretty big impact on the front end aesthetics.
The new Nissan Z is a back to basics, honest design. There’s no fake vents or largely unnecessary styling flourishes. There’s essentially one body side line that takes off from the headlights and fades out as it reaches the flush door handles. The only flourishes are the metallic strip that traces the roof line and the small circular Z badge mounted just above the rear fender. The Z at this point remains the sole affordable sports car that carries on the original proportion formula of a long hood and short rear. There are others out there, but none quite deliver the no-frills, driver focused combination like the Z.
Photos and Text: Dave Pinter