Face-to-Face: Comparing The 2023 Nissan Z To The 2023 Toyota GR Supra
It's inevitable that the 2023 Nissan Z would be compared to the Toyota GR Supra, that other recently revived icon of Japan's '90s sports car heyday. Mightier and more eye-catching than its non-turbo predecessor, the new Nissan Z is in a much better position to make a play for the hearts and minds of import performance fans when facing off against its traditional rival.
Here's how these two coupes stack up when comparing what matters most to sports car fans.
The Toyota GR Supra tags in a pair of ringers under the hood, borrowing both of its available engines and transmissions from builder BMW. The B48 turbocharged four-cylinder found in the base version of the coupe produces 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0L of displacement, while the upgraded car's B58 3.0L inline-six develops a 382 horses and 368 lb-ft of twist. Each is outfitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment, with the six-cylinder Supra adding a six-speed manual gearbox for 2023.
The Nissan Z, on the other hand, is equipped with a 400 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 right out of the box. Also good for 350 lb-ft of torque, the 3.0L VR30DDTT is built by the home team and is derived in part from the Nissan GT-R's monster mill. A six-speed manual is included free of charge with the Z, and a 9-speed automatic is optional.
In a drag race the four-cylinder Supra is left in the dust by the six-cylinder versions of the Toyota and Nissan. Keep the pedal down and a clear separation emerges between the Supra and the Z in their twin-turbo editions, as the former is nearly a full second faster to 60-mph and gaps its rival by similar measure at the end of the quarter mile.
While its 100 pound weight advantage plays a role, the Supra 3.0 has another trick up its sleeve: it's a well-known 'secret' that the B58 engine is significantly underrated when it comes to output. Drive any BMW outfitted with this particular motor and it's clear that the numbers on the build sheet are dwarfed by what it's actually producing on an engine dyno, part of a strategy used by the German brand to protect the market position of its more expensive M models.
Winner: Toyota GR Supra.
There are two ways to gauge how the GR Supra and the Z compare against each other when put through a blacktop blender. The first is sheer, measurable competence. In this arena the Supra's adjustable shock setup and well-tuned (if a bit bouncy) chassis put up the best fight, sticking to the road with alacrity and ensuring a clean line through the next corner at every apex's exit.
The Nissan Z isn't quite as confident at the limit, with a greater tendency to pivot via traction loss. Still, it remains in good communication with the driver at all times, lacking some of the filtering Toyota applied to the platform gifted to it by Bavaria. This second characteristic—driver engagement—lifts the Z closer to the Supra in terms of providing a spirited experience behind the wheel.
Winner: It's a draw, given the differing character of each coupe once you move past the raw skid pad and braking numbers.
The chasm between the Nissan Z and the Toyota GR Supra when it comes to coddling is nearly as significant as the one separating their straight-line performance. Once again the Supra's adaptive dampers go a long way towards tilting the Toyota towards the grand touring end of the spectrum, while the always-on Z can't help but wear its somewhat ragged sports car personality on its sleeve at all times.
The GR Supra does its best to erase asphalt insults during the commute, while the Z is eager to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the driver about just how bad their local roads are.
Winner: Supra. There is a stark difference in ride quality here that the Nissan Z simply can't overcome.
Simply put, the Supra's BMW roots run laps around the more basic Z when comparing their two cabins. Although neither vehicle could be considered spacious (and each lacks a rear seat), the fit and finish of the Toyota's interior are a cut above those found in the Z (which presents a perfectly acceptable, yet not exactly 'premium' character both visually and whenever one interacts with its various toggles, controls, and materials).
The Nissan's shallow trunk is also a bit of a puzzler given how much space seems to be available to the vehicle's designers.
Winner: Toyota GR Supra.
Combining elements of the first-generation S30 Z, the '90s-era 300ZX, and of course the silhouette of the recent 370Z from which it retains much of its platform details, the 2023 Nissan Z cuts a surprisingly attractive profile. Although more elegant when seen from its wide-hipped rear, the long, boxed-out snout of the new Z is equally effective at communicating its vitality as a car that longs to be driven. The coupe's heritage haul has worked wonders for keeping its design relevant without the need to go for a clean-sheet redesign.
In contrast, the Toyota GR Supra looks very much like a BMW with a body kit. Certainly not ugly, it's still a stretch to call it attractive; settling on the word 'striking' would seem to be the safest descriptor of its visual personality.
Winner: Nissan Z.
The entry-level edition of the Toyota GR Supra starts at just over $43,000 for the 2023 model year, and if you want turbo-six power you'll have to add nearly $10k to that starting figure.
The 2023 Nissan Z, on the other hand, includes its 400 horsepower engine with every model and is priced at $40,000 on the low end. That's a level of performance-for-the-dollar savings that can make up for a lot of lost ground between the Z and the GR Supra in other areas.