By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Yutaka Katayama may not be a household name but you can shower accolades on the late ex-president of Nissan’s U.S. operations in the 1970s. After all, he was instrumental in bringing the Fairlady Z, known then as 240Z, to the American roads. And what a ride it’s been for the icon, which debuted as a 2.4-liter single-overhead cam inline-6 cylinder engine with just 150 horsepower, 4-speed or 3-speed automatic transmission and 14-inch wheels in 1970.

Fifty-three years later, the seventh-gen Z may have dropped its numerical prefix but picked up plenty of power and torque to make for a sensational ride. A 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine cranks out 400 hp at 6,400 rpm and 350 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. The rear-wheel-drive coupe is equipped with a 6-speed manual or you can opt for the 9-speed auto gearbox. A sport-tuned suspension is standard in the Performance edition we test drove. Bringing the quick car to a slowdown or stop are 14-inch front and 13.8-inch rear rotors with red-caliper finish. Normal, enhanced and sport modes are offered. And for the first time, the Z gets a launch control without wheel spin and hop for those heavy lead-footers who like to pull away for a thrill or two!

Borrowing the idea from the Japanese market’s 240ZG are two half circles in the LED headlights flanking a black grille that meets up with long aluminum hood, doors and the hatchback. The lower rear stance, short deck and silhouette will remind onlookers of the first-gen Z. A classic touch is the three-bay gauge pod for voltmeter, boost and turbo speed. Leather and suede inserts on the firm but cushy seats look cool too. Some fine standard cabin amenities are auto a/c, push-button ignition, four-way power heated front seats, intelligent cruise control, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, 12-inch digital dash display, aluminum sport pedals, 9-inch touch screen for infotainment ad a 8-speaker Bose sound system.

Safety is paramount in the Z with its standard dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, stability/traction control, auto emergency brakes with pedestrian detection, blind spot/lane departure/forward collision warnings, rear cross traffic alert, limited-slip differential, active-head restraints, front/rear crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Even after more than five decades, the Z continues to offer awesome performance, graceful styling and great value for the money! Z enthusiasts have every right to celebrate the return of the icon with glee.


Tires: 255/40R19 front; 275/35R19 rear

Wheelbase: 100.4 inches

Length: 172.4 inches

Height: 51.8 inches

Width: 72.6 inches

Suspension: double wishbone aluminum front; independent multilink rear

Steering: speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion

Weight: 3,536 pounds

Fuel capacity: 16.4 gallons

City: 18 mpg

Highway: 24 mpg

Base price: $49,990

Price as tested: $53,835

Web site: www.nissanusa.com