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Despite the uptick in sports cars over the past two years, it’s a tough time to be a car enthusiast right now. From BMW ditching the manual altogether to markups on manual Supras, getting into a new enthusiast-focused car leaves few options. And now, even the new Nismo Edition Nissan Z is skipping the three-pedal setup for a nine-speed auto ‘box. I give up.

Nissan’s reasons for skipping the manual Z are baffling

A grey Nissan Z Nismo on track
Nissan Z Nismo Edition | Nissan

Of course, Nissan was pressed for answers when it was revealed that the new Nismo Z wouldn’t have a stick. And in response to Top Gear, Nissan’s chief product specialist stated, “To be honest, base car with two pedals – faster than Nismo with three pedals”.

That’s a common refrain among manufacturers these days. And the fact is, with seven, eight, and even 10-speed automatic gearboxes, the six-speed stick is simply geared to lose. It all has to do with emissions, and more specifically, how gearing affects fuel economy.

With fewer gears, it’s harder to bridge the gap between acceleration and top speed. That means gears that are further apart and thus, slightly slower acceleration. That offers a lower rpm at cruising speeds to help meet stricter emissions regulations.

Then there is the issue of shift times. Simply put, a modern automatic gearbox, dual-clutch or not, is simply faster between gears than a human with three pedals. That alone is worth a few tenths at the drag strip. But in citing this, Tamura continued, “Time is not important, but some people said Nismo must be quicker than base.” Boo to them.

Performance specs of the new Nissan Z Nismo

Nismo Z side profile in gray
2023 Nissan Z Nismo | Nissan

The base Nissan Z was already a strong performer, getting 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque from a six-cylinder turbo. But the Nismo edition gets even more punch. At 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, it offers a noticeable, if modest, bump over the standard Z.

However, it also gets 155 pounds heavier due, in part, to the upgraded nine-speed automatic transmission. It needed more strength to handle the additional torque and faster shifts, and that strength came at the expense of weight. In addition, Nissan added more welds to increase structural rigidity, stiffer dampers, springs, and roll bars.

A new design hits on all cylinders

However you feel about the lack of manual transmission, the new Nismo Z certainly looks the part. A restyled front fascia includes a red splitter that adds a bold touch of aggression.

That motif continues down the aggressively-styled side skirts and even around to the back. A small lip spoiler sits on the trunk as well. Altogether, the styling upgrades give the new Z a bolder, more standout profile that the base car lacks.

Is the new Nissan Z Nismo a good buy?

2023 Nissan Z in gray
Nissan Nismo Z on track | Nissan
Related Why Is the 2023 Nissan Z Also Known as the 400Z?

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

Pricing estimates put the new Nismo Z at around $60,000. That’s Toyota Supra territory for a car that is, frankly, not as enthralling. Now that the Supra has a manual option, it’s a more engaging choice. And even comparing automatic to automatic, the Toyota simply stands out. However, the Nismo upgrades make this a closer race than it’s been. If you’re in the market for a sports car, it may be worth the effort to try both on and see which one fits.