Car Review: Nissan Z brings back the magic

Car companies like Nissan have been producing fun sports cars for five decades now. The original 240Z was a hit — and this latest Z hopes to rekindle that magic.

The 2022 Nissan Z adds more style and some retro touches from original 240Z to stand out in the sports car market. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

To win on style, a car has to catch the eye in an instant and look fast when it’s parked. Good news! The 2022 Z looks like it is going about 65 mph when it’s parked. The new, low-slung sports car looks smaller and less chunky than the old 370Z it replaces.

The new Z is one flashy car, especially in the optional two-tone Kazuchi Yellow Pearl with a black roof. The special edition Z Proto Spec I drove has a racier look with special bronze color 19″ Rays super-lightweight wheels. There are even yellow brake calipers.

Even with the new touches, the Z has many styling cues of past models. The rear taillights have some throwbacks borrowed from the most popular Z models. Even behind the doors and small rear, windows have the look of the original 240Z.

Looks are one thing, but whether the performance matches the style is very important for buyers. The new Z will put a smile on your face with 400hp from a twin-turbo V6.

One thing the Nissan has that not all sports car have these days is a manual transmission. The Z Proto Spec is all about driving hard. The track is the best place to explore the limits of what the Z can do. Short of that, the new Z was fun on back roads with high limits and easy to drive. It may not be the best handling car in its class, but I had great fun with it. It was more 1990-1996 300Z, which I adore. It would be very easy daily driver.

An available six speed manual transmission matches nicely with the 400hp twin-turbo V6. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

Getting inside the new Z is like getting inside a modern sports car. With the Proto Spec package, this Z has yellow trim on the sport seats. There is a fully digital dash and a large center screen. There’s a cool nod to the past with the gauge pod and three gauges on top of the dash.

For a low-slung sports car, you can get in and out easily thanks to doors that open wide for an easy, if not always graceful, exit. The driver has good vision out of the front and a somewhat decent view out of the back. However, there are some blind spots when you use the side mirrors.

Cost: $52,990; as tested $56,210

MPG: 19 MPG City; 24 MPG Highway. I managed 22.2 in 227 miles of mixed driving.

Options: $1,295 premium two-tone paint; $400 floor mats, trunk mat; $500 illuminated kicks plates; $1,025 destination and handling.

Safety: Electronic brake force distribution; intelligent cruise control; automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; intelligent forward collision warning; blind spot warning; rear cross traffic alert; lane departure warning; hill start assist; intelligent driver alertness; high beam assist.

Things to know: The new Z is a stylish sports car that is still fun to drive and easy to live with because of a comfortable interior and compliant ride.


  • Redesigned exterior adds more style and some retro touches
  • Better interior space with improved quality materials
  • 400hp and available manual transmission


  • Not as fast as some of the competition
  • Small car means taller drivers might find it tight
  • Hard to find this rare Z Proto Spec with just 240 units to be built

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up