What’s old is new again with the updated Nissan Z–just the Z, no other additional nomenclature needed–13 years after the previous version was put out to pasture. The automaker recognized that while it was time to give the Z line a refresh, it didn’t want to do away with all the design clues that made it a classic. That's no surprise, either, since the designers have been big fans of Z models since they were kids.
We already knew the new Z would wear a decal at the base of its rear window that reads "Since 1969" as a tribute to the first Datsun 240Z. Along with a rear end reminiscent of a 300X and 240ZG-inspired headlights, the new Z was designed with several other nods to its predecessors.
For me, it’s hard to imagine the new Z in any other color but yellow, and that’s because the Ikazuchi Yellow version has taken front and center in most of the publicity hits so far. In the original version, Yutaka Katayama (known as the father of the Datsun Z) chose the sunny hue in the 1970s.
Look under the paint, and you’ll notice that the body of the new Z hearkens back to the first-gen Z with the rear sloping lower than the front section. From the side, enthusiasts will be drawn to it; Nissan knows it will remind them of the first Zs from decades ago. The new Z badge is patterned on the badge from the first-generation S30 Z, and is located in the same place on the car. Slide underneath and you’ll see a hidden logo on the side of the transmission case.
Inside, the three-gauge cluster is located in the center of the dashboard, but the set is a little higher than in previous generations. Nissan says the layout of the gauge cluster is positioned to reduce eye movement fatigue and distractions when driving, and each hooded gauge has its own function.
Possibly the coolest feature on the new Z was suggested by GT500 Nissan race driver Tsugio Matsuda. Shift lights signal the driver the optimal time to upshift for maximum performance, and the buzz on Nissan forums suggests you can tinker with the settings on some of the Z models to change the shift point manually. Matsuda also recommended that the tachometer be positioned with the redline at the 12 o’clock position, which keeps your eyes in the center when it nears the mark.
Nissan knows how to tap into the nostalgia factor, and the new Z will have it in spades.
Got a tip? Comment below or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.