How Nissan Kept the Manual Transmission Alive in the New Z
The new Z can be had with a stick, but Nissan didn’t just bolt up a manual transmission and called it a day.
It may seem contradictory to say that the stick-shift sports car is dying just as Cadillac,
BMW, and Hyundai are either launching or currently offering models with a clutch pedal. It's the truth, however, and what's happening now is likely the last hurrah for manual transmissions, given that electrification and autonomy are looming on the horizon.
With the stick-shift being a vital part of a great sports car, Nissan has made sure to offer one as standard on the new Z. That being said, the Z's old-school transmission wasn't just hastily bolted together to the 400-horsepower V6 swiped from Infiniti, with the Japanese automaker adding several features to ensure drivers get the best possible experience out of the six-speed unit.
The first of these features is automatic downshift rev-matching, which appears to be activated with a button on the center console. Nissan calls its system "SynchroRev Match," claiming that it will deliver "heel-toe-like downshifting," and it comes standard on the higher "Performance" trim of the new Z. Combine this with the close-ratio nature of the six-speed transmission, and it should be easier than ever to complete a perfect downshift and feel like a driving god.
Included as standard is an upshift reminder, which is integrated into the vehicle's 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. If you get a little lost in the sauce during a quick pull—completely within the bounds of the law, of course—a little light at the top of the screen will remind you that it's time to shift. Nissan seems to imply that this is a performance-oriented feature, not one designed to save gas. To reinforce this fact, it's programmable, so you'll be able to adjust when you want it to give you a friendly reminder to kick the clutch.
Last but not least is launch control, which is a first in a rear-wheel-drive, manual Nissan. Much like SynchroRev Match, it's only available on the Performance trim, however. It seems like if you want the juicy bits, you have to go for this higher trim. Pricing has yet to be revealed, so we can only hope it's reasonably priced.
If you're curious about the actual ratios in this gearbox, first gear starts at a healthy 3.795:1, followed by 2.325:1, 1.625:1, and fourth gear at 1.272:1. Fifth gear is 1:1, and sixth gear is overdrive at 0.795:1. Power is channeled to the rear wheels through a high-performance clutch from EXEDY, and a limited-slip differential is available—although only on the Performance trim. Interestingly, a carbon-fiber driveshaft is standard on every Z in addition to the awesome, 400-horsepower VR30DDTT.
An exclusive shift knob is available if you decide to check the "Proto Spec" box as well, but regardless of whether you go for a high-dollar Z or a cheaper one, Nissan assures us that "the shifter glides to the next gear almost instinctively and with minimal effort."
That's reassuring in a time when the manual transmission is left out of the majority of new vehicles, even if they say "Supra" on them. Let's hope all of this talk adds up to an excellent driving experience. We don't want to speculate too hard, but we have a feeling that it will.
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