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Few new cars have generated as much hype as the upcoming 2023 Nissan Z. But even as the countdown to its release nears completion, some things remain a mystery. We know how much horsepower it has, for example, but not its exact starting price. However, the curtain over the retro sports car got pulled back a bit after the 2022 New York Auto Show. And while the Nissan Z news won’t please convertible fans, Nismo devotees might want to pay attention.

The 2023 Nissan Z splits from the 370Z with no convertible plans

The rear 3/4 view of a gray 2023 Nissan Z Performance at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show
2023 Nissan Z Performance rear 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

Nissan didn’t always offer convertible sports cars. Although the 350Z was available as a roadster, it wasn’t designed with a drop-top in mind. That changed with the 370Z: a convertible version was planned from day one. So, since the 2023 Nissan Z rides on a heavily-updated version of the 370Z’s platform, it’d be logical to assume a roadster was in the cards.

Well, no. As it turns out, Nissan isn’t planning on making a 2023 Z convertible, The Drive says. It’s not even “’talking about a convertible at all,’” Nissan’s director of advanced product planning and strategy Paul Hawson told The Drive. And this doesn’t seem like a repeat of the 350Z’s situation. But not having a Z Roadster in the works is arguably for the better where performance is concerned.

True, modern convertible sports cars like the Miata can be fun to drive. But chopping the roof off most cars makes them less rigid and thus less sporty. And while extra bracing and roll bars can add some stiffness back in, this also adds weight. That’s fine if someone just wants a sporty-looking convertible, which some 350Z and 370Z Roadster buyers wanted, The Drive notes. However, the 2023 Nissan Z seems to be pursuing performance-minded enthusiasts even harder than its predecessors. And to this crowd, the coupe is the preferred choice.

A 2023 Nissan Z Nismo with over 400 hp isn’t out of the question

A red 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo at the 2015 Washington Auto Show
2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo | Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Having a solid roof is good for performance, but so is adding power, upgrading the brakes, and tweaking the suspension. And Nissan Z buyers might be in luck where that’s concerned.

As noted earlier, we know the 2023 Nissan Z has a 400-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. However, Hawson told The Drive the V6 “’can handle more’” than that. Furthermore, as a tuning fan, he wants it to. How much more, he didn’t specify. But he reportedly mentioned a familiar name: Nismo.

Nissan’s performance division didn’t just make upgraded parts for the 350Z and 370Z. There were also full-on 350Z and 370Z Nismo models with stiffer suspensions, upgraded brakes, better tires, and yes, more power. That sounds right up Hawson’s alley.

Officially, Nissan hasn’t said anything about a Nismo version of the 2023 Z. However, based on Hawson’s comments, such a car seems theoretically possible. And if some recent events are any indication, it might be less theoretical than we think.

When could this hypothetical Nismo hit the road?

Earlier this year, someone snapped footage of a 2023 Nissan Z test mule out-dragging a WRX STI. A modified WRX STI, mind you, though how modified remains unknown. However, the mule in the video looked basically stock apart from a lack of badging and some minor trim inconsistencies. The Z another individual just recorded on a Japanese racetrack, though, looks significantly different.

According to Road & Track, the Nissan Z in this new video has wider-than-stock tires as well as a more aggressive body kit and rear wing. Furthermore, it sounds like it has a different exhaust. Admittedly, it could be a track-only Z mule or even a test car for an aftermarket supplier. But it could also be the hypothetical Nismo Z. After all, it’s not like aftermarket tuners are the only ones that can supply rear wings, right?

Still, even if a Nismo version is in the pipeline, it won’t launch any earlier than the ‘regular’ 2023 Nissan Z. Officially, that’s scheduled for spring 2022. And if the recent leak is legit, the first production cars should hit dealerships by June 2022.

We might be in the countdown’s final days, but the hype isn’t letting up.

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