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Sunday Drive: 2024 Nissan Z Nismo a thrilling ride and modern sports car icon

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Nov 10, 2023
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Deanne with the Nissan Z in front of the iconic dinosaur, a must-stop photo location, in Vernal.
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Deanne with the Nissan Z Nismo as we headed up over Indian Canyon on our way to Vernal. What a perfect day to be out on the road!
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Getting ready for a late afternoon hike in the hills northeast of Vernal.
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Gotta go to Dinosaur National Park when you are out in Vernal, so we headed to the quarry that Sunday afternoon before heading home in the new Nissan Z Nismo.
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Interior enhancements to the 2024 Nissan Z Nismo include red-anodized engine-start and drive mode buttons, manual-adjust Recaro seats and a leather and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with a red marker at the 12 o’clock position.
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Interior enhancements to the 2024 Nissan Z Nismo include red-anodized engine-start and drive mode buttons, manual-adjust Recaro seats and a leather and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with a red marker at the 12 o’clock position.

It is definitely not every day that we get an email from Nissan — or, for that matter, any of the auto manufacturer — asking if we would be interested in spending a week in one of their new preproduction sports cars.

The easy answer was yes, we would be thrilled to get into the new Z Nismo track edition of the iconic sports car, having been completely redesigned a year ago by Nissan. There has been so much hype about the new coupe and getting one has been even harder for most buyers.

The only possible problem we could foresee was the email came in late September and it would be two weeks before the Z arrived in our driveway. Fall weather can be finicky in Utah without a doubt, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best fall weather we could get.

It turned out to be the perfect fall week — and more importantly weekend — to have a new sports coupe, as temperatures hovered in the low 80s with crisp fall evenings. So at the last minute, we even decided to make a quick overnight trip out to Vernal to see how the new track-infused Nismo would perform. As we have been a witness to, Nissan has consistently delivered some of the most iconic and thrilling sports cars over the years.

The 2024 Nissan Z Nismo was no exception to this rule, representing the apex of Nissan’s performance engineering and design philosophy. This new addition to the Z series not only paid homage to the legendary Z cars of the past but also sets the bar high for any new modern sports car.

As we began our journey to Eastern Utah, we were immediately impressed with the power and other abilities of the new Nissan as we found that the real heart of the 2024 Nissan Z Nismo lies beneath its sculpted hood. Powering this sports car is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that produces a robust 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. This power plant is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission in the Nismo trim.

Many would ask why the automatic, as the purist Z driver would opt for a manual transmission. However, Nissan has added enhancements for faster and more dynamic shifting than anyone can accomplish via manual transmission, making for a more enhanced track experience — or, in our case, just a phenomenal road trip through the Utah mountains. We found that the Nismo could perform much better than we could trying to use the included paddle shifters.

With an estimated 0-to-60 time of just 4.1 seconds, it became hard not to accelerate as fast as possible every time we stopped, just to get the added adrenaline rush that the Z provided to us.

The Nismo trim also comes equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, returned shocks and stiffer springs, ensuring the Z hugs the road and remains composed through corners. The Nismo version also boasts a sportier exhaust note when switched into Sport+ mode that was music to our ears!

It’s worth noting that while the ride is firm, it remains relatively comfortable for daily driving in comfort mode, making the Z Nismo an even more practical choice for a sports car. About the only complaint we could offer was we liked the seats that Nissan has in the other trim levels of the Z, as after hours in the vehicle, the included Recaro seats did take their toll on our age advanced backs.

The steering was very precise, as we would have expected from a vehicle made for the racetrack, and the car’s balance is exemplary. Whether we were cruising along the highway or really giving it a push on a back road, the Z Nismo is an immensely enjoyable experience out on the open road. It offered us a sense of control and connection that truly defined the sports car experience.

The 2024 Nissan Z Nismo was a striking and well-proportioned sports car, evoking a strong sense of nostalgia for all who have followed the Z series over the years. The design philosophy for the car is simple yet effective: a long hood; a sleek, flowing roofline; and a distinctive rear end with Nismo-specific enhancements.

From the front, the Z Nismo showcases the iconic V-Motion grille, elongated LED headlights and a front fascia that exudes aggression. A prominent Nismo badge underscores its performance orientation. Moving down the side, we had to appreciate the flared wheel arches that hinted at the coupe’s potential on the road. Large 19-inch alloy wheels, wrapped in performance tires (wider on the back than the front) further enhance the vehicle’s athletic stance.

The rear end is equally impressive, with signature Z-style taillights that extend horizontally across the back, complementing the wide haunches. Dual exhaust tips provide a distinct look and voice, again accentuating the Nismo’s sporty character. The overall design is a blend of modern abilities with an unmistakable nod to the Z cars of yesteryears, creating a bold and exciting look.

Stepping inside the 2024 Z Nismo, we found a well-crafted and driver-focused cabin. The trim elevates the sporty ambiance with unique materials and accents.

In terms of technology, the Z Nismo included a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The intuitive interface made it easy to control the various functions, while the optional Bose audio system delivered an immersive audio experience throughout our trip.

The driving position is low, which provided us a sense of connectedness with the road. We found the essential controls easily accessible, and the steering wheel was wrapped in Alcantara with contrast stitching, providing an excellent grip and comfort during our “high-performance” driving.

The cargo area was practical for a sports car, as we found enough space for weekend getaways or a few bags of groceries.

Nismo is a return to form for the all-new Nissan’s Z series and offers a compelling combination of track-ready performance and style. The sports car captured the essence of the Z legacy while delivering the modern features and performance capabilities that enthusiasts and even newcomers to the world will crave and enjoy.

Base price: $64,990

Destination charge: $1,095

Price as driven: $68,280


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