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The automotive gods have bequeathed unto us something of a sports car resurgence in 2023. And whether you worship at the altar of Japanese engineering or German elegance, the New Nissan Z and BMW Z4 offer different takes on the sports car formula. However, they share more similarities than you might think. Upon examination, I know which one I’d have…but what about you?

Two compelling designs

BMW Z4 roadster in purple
2023 BMW Z4 | BMW

The new Nissan Z exudes a timeless and muscular design that pays homage to its iconic predecessors. With its elongated hood, retro-inspired grille, and prominent fenders, the Z is a true standout on looks alone.

The BMW Z4, on the other hand, embraces a more contemporary and aggressive styling. Its sleek lines, low-slung profile, and retractable hardtop roof convey a sense of elegance and modernity. From the front, the Z4 is perhaps the more compelling choice. But in profile, that new Z is easy to love. While both cars excel in their individual design languages, the Z’s nostalgic flair sets it apart.

Is the New Nissan Z faster than the BMW Z4?

A pair of Nissan Z models
Two Nissan Z Sports Cars | Nissan

When it comes to performance, the new Z and the BMW Z4 have similar approaches. The new Nissan Z is equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, delivering 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Its rear-wheel-drive setup and precise six-speed manual transmission take the new sports car to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds  It’s also available with a nine-speed auto ‘box that makes for an even quicker 4.3-second sprint to 60.

The BMW Z4, meanwhile, presents a pair of engine options, including a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine. This powerplant sends 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque through the rear wheels. That’s good for a 5.1-second sprint to 60 mph in the newest BMW roadster.

Meanwhile, the BMW Z4 M40i features a turbocharged inline-six delivering 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That flips the script on the Nissan Z, making it from zero to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds in Car and Driver testing. Plus, its sport-tuned suspension, available M Sport package, and optional adaptive dampers let the Z4 perfectly walk the line between agility and refinement.

The four-pot Z4 is comparable to the new Nissan Z on price, with both sports cars hovering around $50k. But to get comparable performance in the BMW, it has to be the turbocharged inline-six from the M40i version. That extra power bests the Nissan, but it’ll take an extra $15,000 to get there.

Ultimately, the choice between these two sports cars depends on whether you prefer the raw power and traditional feel of the Z or the polished performance and versatility of the Z4.

Nissan Z vs BMW Z4: Choosing between retro and refined

BMW Z4 interior
BMW Z4 interior | BMW

Luxury is where the Nissan Z and BMW Z4 drastically diverge. The Z4 has some of the most refinement in the sports car space. Between premium leather, ambient lighting, and the ergonomic sport seats, the BMW Z4 is an easy thing to drive for hours on end.

Nissan Z Interior
2023 Nissan Z interior | Nissan

The Nissan Z feels more spartan in its base trim, as the leather upholstery, dual-zone climate settings, and power-adjustable seats are all optional extras. Of course, the BMW also features a convertible roof, while the Z is strictly a coupe for now, the previous 370Z did have a convertible option, so the new model may get a drop top in the future.

Both sports cars feature road trip ready tech

BMW Z4 Rear
2023 BMW Z4 | BMW
Related Why Is the 2023 Nissan Z Also Known as the 400Z?

Why Is the 2023 Nissan Z Also Known as the 400Z?

In terms of technology, the BMW Z4 boasts a comprehensive suite of features. The iDrive infotainment system with a touchscreen display is intuitive and user-friendly. That said, it is a bit busy, so it could take some getting used to for new users.

Additionally, advanced driver-assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automated emergency braking ensure safety and convenience. The new Nissan Z, while not as tech-focused as the Z4, incorporates modern amenities like a touchscreen display, smartphone integration, and a premium audio system. It also comes standard with advanced driver assistance features that are optional extras in the BMW.

Two new sports cars with different targets

Both the BMW Z4 and new Nissan Z cater to different sensibilities and driving preferences. The Nissan’s appeal lies in its heritage, evoking a sense of nostalgia for fans of the Z lineage. It offers a visceral and engaging driving experience, coupled with a design that pays homage to its iconic predecessors.

On the other hand, the BMW Z4 impresses with its luxury and refined aesthetics, with an underlying bent of performance. The Z4’s versatile nature and blend of sportiness and comfort make it an attractive option, but carries a steep price tag.