2023 Nissan Z - 400hp, 6MT/9AT, $40k USD

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This Z with this price would be chanceless in Europe. 350Z was actually priced competitively in 00s, seen few of them in Europe.
 
Honestly I'm a bit surprised the Z is selling so poorly. The style and power and manual are the perfect recipe. That said, Nissan in general has built itself a meme-worthy reputation in the US as a supplier of rental cars and hoodlums. The 350Z was so successful that they're all over the place now and can be bought for a can of beans by the lowest of the car community who immediately tear of the exhaust and go drifting through rush-hour intersections like madmen. To them, the Z name carries no cache, its merely this week's cheapest drift missile.

I think Nissan as a brand has been in a bad place for the better part of a decade now, if not longer. The GT-R is magnificent and the 400Z is genuinely a good car but I think the brand image actually has a lot to do with lagging sales as well. The same company who sells brand new Altimas with headlights out straight off the lot can't possibly support expensive products that demand quality service.

They probably should've let the Z die a quiet death and brought back the IDX concept instead. If you're going to go retro, at least respect the market. This could've been a really great competitor to the GT86, especially since the Toyota doesn't really have any retro aspect to it at all.

preview-928x522.jpg
 
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Honestly I'm a bit surprised the Z is selling so poorly. The style and power and manual are the perfect recipe. That said, Nissan in general has built itself a meme-worthy reputation in the US as a supplier of rental cars and hoodlums. The 350Z was so successful that they're all over the place now and can be bought for a can of beans by the lowest of the car community who immediately tear of the exhaust and go drifting through rush-hour intersections like madmen. To them, the Z name carries no cache, its merely this week's cheapest drift missile.

I think Nissan as a brand has been in a bad place for the better part of a decade now, if not longer. The GT-R is magnificent and the 400Z is genuinely a good car but I think the brand image actually has a lot to do with lagging sales as well. The same company who sells brand new Altimas with headlights out straight off the lot can't possibly support expensive products that demand quality service.

They probably should've let the Z die a quiet death and brought back the IDX concept instead. If you're going to go retro, at least respect the market. This could've been a really great competitor to the GT86, especially since the Toyota doesn't really have any retro aspect to it at all.
Nissan was doing pretty well....until the GFC. The 350z sold really well because it was an absolutely bubblicious economy in that time period, and every single baby boomer out there was kicking back after their kids moved out wanting stuff that made them feel young. That party ended right when the 350z went out of production. From 2009-2020ish, the company did not appear to invest in anything. That combined with Carlos Ghosn trying to strangle every last cent out of the company has left it as a pretty sad shell of its former self. Its hard for me to even believe this is the same company which produced cars like the 240z, R32 GTR, 300ZX, and had real motorsports pedigree on and off road. Its genuinely sad. If any of these automotive blog websites masquerading as "journalism" had any shred of initiative, a deep dive into the rise and fall of Nissan might be an illuminating read. Best we can do is "what car has cool headlights"
 
Honestly I'm a bit surprised the Z is selling so poorly. The style and power and manual are the perfect recipe. That said, Nissan in general has built itself a meme-worthy reputation in the US as a supplier of rental cars and hoodlums. The 350Z was so successful that they're all over the place now and can be bought for a can of beans by the lowest of the car community who immediately tear of the exhaust and go drifting through rush-hour intersections like madmen. To them, the Z name carries no cache, its merely this week's cheapest drift missile.
In short, the Z, in spite of being dated technologically, isn't a bad driver's car but is a bad value compared to its rivals. This is what is keeping it from achieving even modest sales. Seems like either Nissan is completely delusional about the new Z's place in the market, or would lose so much money on it by pricing it competitively that it wouldn't be green lit for production being in the $30k range and is instead banking on the fact that boomers and legacy buyers will overlook its high price tag. Though the brand has suffered a laughable reputation over the last decade, enthusiasts haven't forgotten Nissan's much longer reputation of cranking out some compelling sports cars, so the fact that it's a Nissan probably isn't damaging sales, especially when the Rogue is selling something like 400k+ units per year. Also, why isn't Nissan marketing the hell out of the new Z? It will attract buyers back to the company considering it's a breath of fresh air for a brand with an abysmal lineup but has the slogan of "Innovation That Excites".
They probably should've let the Z die a quiet death and brought back the IDX concept instead. If you're going to go retro, at least respect the market. This could've been a really great competitor to the GT86, especially since the Toyota doesn't really have any retro aspect to it at all.

preview-928x522.jpg
Sadly, the IDX would be both harder to put into production and fare worse. The 400Z was mostly a cosmetic upgrade from the 370Z, sharing most parts sans the sheet metal, and even for Nissan's low standards, wasn't particularly risky, while the IDX would require an all new platform. Let alone the fact that sales for entry-level sporty coupes had completely disintegrated (that's what the Datsun 510 ultimately was), even by 2013, while the Z is in a healthier class. At just 162 inches long, it would be quite subcompact by US market standards, though whether the IDX would ever be a global car was never articulated. Also, I'm sure if the IDX had ever got the green light, Nissan would do something to instantaneously piss off the enthusiast crowd- namely giving it a CVT standard and/or no manual option, and that's assuming that a production spec would look as cool as the concept.
 
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I will never understand why people blame Renault for Nissan's downfall, especially in reliability. Dacia meanwhile improved drastically after Renault takeover.
 
I will never understand why people blame Renault for Nissan's downfall, especially in reliability. Dacia meanwhile improved drastically after Renault takeover.
Gonna regurgitate some Reddit posts that I think are fairly close to on the money here -

Nissan actually used to be just as reliable as Honda or Toyota. Especially for performance cars. Nissan was Japan’s best. What happened was in the late 1990’s, Nissan almost went bankrupt. To stave off bankruptcy, they joined a “partnership” with French automaker Renault. Renault installed Carlos Ghosn as CFO of Nissan, and he brought Nissan back into profitability within 12 months, saving the company. This gained him and Renault a lot of clout in the partnership and they were given pretty much total control of Nissan, no matter what Nissan actually wanted.

There were reliability problems from the start of the alliance. The first bad sign, imo, was the QR25DE I4 engine used in almost everything Nissan made, and I believe they still use it. The engine had a problem where the precat would disintegrate, backflow into the engine through the exhaust manifold and destroy the engine from the inside out.

By the time this issue had been fixed, another had reared its ugly head, the infamously unreliable CVT transmissions, used as both a cost cutting measure, and to push higher fuel economy numbers. Nissan quality on everything that isn’t RWD has been steadily declining since the Renault alliance started.

Good summary, but also to add: Ghosn wanted Renault-Nissan Alliance to be no1 car maker by auto sales, and that meant cutting prices, which also means cutting costs. Cost-cutting = quality cutting, hence the reliability issues. Also bear in mind that Nissan Global is 3 very different regions: US, EMEA and APAC (Japan). APAC is still a third of the profit, a lot of Infiniti's are badged as Nissan as there is still some prestige in the marque there - its essentially its own company, much higher quality control and manufacture. EMEA (mostly just Europe) was the big growth market when they hit the jackpot with the ****heap Juke and the ****heap Qashqai which sold in millions. Unfortunately Nissan were one of the worst offenders with dieselgate (and had diesel engines in everything) and sales fell off a cliff when that **** hit the fan, particularly with the progressively tightening emissions regs in EU which meant they couldn't legally sell some of their cars as the engines were so pollutant. Then Covid, and Nissan in Europe is hollowed out completely. They tried to make Infiniti work but have closed the brand down in most countries. Then there's the US market which is dominated by razor thin margins on volume fleet sales, and crazy finance for private buyers. Probably the trucks are OK, as they are only made for and sold in US, so manufacturing won't have shifted to the E European and S American cheapo factories that were built over last 15 years - but ultimately, Nissan is on a terminal nosedive and I wouldn't drive one if it was given to me.


TL;DR Carlos Ghosn and Renault "saved" Nissan by literally racing to the bottom to try to get sales volume up as high as possible. He probably did this solely for personal benefit (the everything problem - executive compensation, more on that here). This worked as long as Nissan had a good reputation and cars that were...legal. However, a few global situations arose that Nissan simply was not flexible enough (or at least dealing with them would require financial commitments that would not look good to shareholders) to deal with and it has put them in a doom loop where worsening perception of the brand leads to poorer sales, leads to further cost cutting which leads to worsening reliability which leads to worsening perception. For years now Nissan has leaned heavily on steep discounts and fleet sales. Both of these things are real perception killers.
 
The 370's problems didn't stem from lack of power, and it for damn sure didn't need an extra hundred pounds on the front axle and ten grand added on the price. Since Nissan basically aren't selling it anywhere that has real emissions laws anyway they probably would have been better served seeing how closely they could reliably approach the power of the engine they did go with but with a normally aspirated motor; but since the development budget was so tight that they didn't even bother to strengthen the manual transmission that they've used for 20 years perhaps even that much wasn't in the cards.


Really compared to the wholly modern Supra and the significantly refreshed BreezFrees as well as the Mustang I think the Z35 is only selling to people who really like how it looks. The secret got out while dealers were laughably marking up the car that it doesn't really do anything better than any of its competition and some of that competition is also quite a bit cheaper and something you can buy without dealing with Nissan dealers.
 
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Gonna regurgitate some Reddit posts that I think are fairly close to on the money here -






TL;DR Carlos Ghosn and Renault "saved" Nissan by literally racing to the bottom to try to get sales volume up as high as possible. He probably did this solely for personal benefit (the everything problem - executive compensation, more on that here). This worked as long as Nissan had a good reputation and cars that were...legal. However, a few global situations arose that Nissan simply was not flexible enough (or at least dealing with them would require financial commitments that would not look good to shareholders) to deal with and it has put them in a doom loop where worsening perception of the brand leads to poorer sales, leads to further cost cutting which leads to worsening reliability which leads to worsening perception. For years now Nissan has leaned heavily on steep discounts and fleet sales. Both of these things are real perception killers.
Yep, agreed with the brand perception, thus the "memeworthy" thing I mentioned. The jokes about people blasting through highway traffiic, pedidles, driving around with body damage, etc, they're based on reality. Every time I see an Altima coming up in my mirror I know it's either a rental car on a mission or was bought with a credit score below 600 so I just sidestep out of their way.

Funny note btw, I had a friend with a ~2005 Sentra SE-R with the QR25DE and it's primary in-manifold cat did indeed blow up just a few years later, but we figured out the problem before it ruined the engine. We'd been wondering for a couple weeks why my Del Sol VTEC was so much quicker than his SE-R with Nismo parts.

The CVT issues was their own doing. That transmission is effective but terrible. I've rented multiple Altimas in the last several years and they're easily capable of 40+ mpg and 650 miles of highway range which is truly incredible.
 
Though on the other hand bow much mileage do you have to get over the class norm to offset that the car is essentially disposable if anything goes wrong with the transmission?
 
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Gonna regurgitate some Reddit posts that I think are fairly close to on the money here -



TL;DR Carlos Ghosn and Renault "saved" Nissan by literally racing to the bottom to try to get sales volume up as high as possible. He probably did this solely for personal benefit (the everything problem - executive compensation, more on that here). This worked as long as Nissan had a good reputation and cars that were...legal. However, a few global situations arose that Nissan simply was not flexible enough (or at least dealing with them would require financial commitments that would not look good to shareholders) to deal with and it has put them in a doom loop where worsening perception of the brand leads to poorer sales, leads to further cost cutting which leads to worsening reliability which leads to worsening perception. For years now Nissan has leaned heavily on steep discounts and fleet sales. Both of these things are real perception killers.
Cost cutting hurt Renault too. Renault isn't treated like a baby by Alliance. As soon as Renault built somewhat decently reliable reputation (not pre merger Nissan level but good with cars like R4, R5, R18, R21, R19, Safrane, mk1 Clio, and so on; the merger came and old Renault rep returned when mk2 Laguna, mk2 Megane, to lesser extent the rest of range had terrible reliability issues, especially electronics. Laguna basically never recovered even if 2006 facelift was big improvement and even if mk3 was great it came too late. Renault got up and by 2010, became good again (experimental stuff like Avantime/Vel Satis was gone sadly). By now Renault overtook Peugeot/Citroen in reliability and pricing. Nissan also made and still makes some very good cars in 21st century, even for Europe (Micra has good reputation here). I really hope Nissan gets glowup it deserves. Revival of Silvia and Skyline would bring good fortunes to Nissan just like Giulia did to AR, even if they do not sell lots of them.

I am blaming Renault-Nissan-(Mitsubishi) Alliance for most issues that Nissan has, and I think that Japanese brands suffer more due to RNMA being led more by French. It's wierd to blame the subsidary brands for sister brand issues when they are not one (Renault) above another (Nissan). Similarly I will never understand the people who blame Fiat (brand) for Lancia and Alfa Romeo problems, when actually one who should be blamed is the corporation above them (Fiat S.p.A, FCA, Stellantis). In all of these case both Renault and Fiat themselves suffered thanks to mismanagement too.

Sadly days of more independent brands and less conglomerates are over. But some part sharing is fine, too much bespokeness kills. Out of conglomerates, VAG is still the best managed group because cost cutting is not that bad and brands are mostly stable.
 
Cost cutting hurt Renault too. Renault isn't treated like a baby by Alliance. As soon as Renault built somewhat decently reliable reputation (not pre merger Nissan level but good with cars like R4, R5, R18, R21, R19, Safrane, mk1 Clio, and so on; the merger came and old Renault rep returned when mk2 Laguna, mk2 Megane, to lesser extent the rest of range had terrible reliability issues, especially electronics. Laguna basically never recovered even if 2006 facelift was big improvement and even if mk3 was great it came too late. Renault got up and by 2010, became good again (experimental stuff like Avantime/Vel Satis was gone sadly). By now Renault overtook Peugeot/Citroen in reliability and pricing. Nissan also made and still makes some very good cars in 21st century, even for Europe (Micra has good reputation here). I really hope Nissan gets glowup it deserves. Revival of Silvia and Skyline would bring good fortunes to Nissan just like Giulia did to AR, even if they do not sell lots of them.

I am blaming Renault-Nissan-(Mitsubishi) Alliance for most issues that Nissan has, and I think that Japanese brands suffer more due to RNMA being led more by French. It's wierd to blame the subsidary brands for sister brand issues when they are not one (Renault) above another (Nissan). Similarly I will never understand the people who blame Fiat (brand) for Lancia and Alfa Romeo problems, when actually one who should be blamed is the corporation above them (Fiat S.p.A, FCA, Stellantis). In all of these case both Renault and Fiat themselves suffered thanks to mismanagement too.

Sadly days of more independent brands and less conglomerates are over. But some part sharing is fine, too much bespokeness kills. Out of conglomerates, VAG is still the best managed group because cost cutting is not that bad and brands are mostly stable.
Whether they clearly articulate it or not, I doubt most people are blaming the brands, but rather use "Renault" and "Fiat" as shorthand for those larger corporations/conglomerates.

I agree that VAG, of the mega corps, is probably being the least obvious with cost cutting (the body construction on most VAG products still looks good, unlike most of the auto landscape these days) but there is definitely cost cutting creeping into the latest interiors.
 
Whether they clearly articulate it or not, I doubt most people are blaming the brands, but rather use "Renault" and "Fiat" as shorthand for those larger corporations/conglomerates.
From my experience its 50-50.

I agree that VAG, of the mega corps, is probably being the least obvious with cost cutting (the body construction on most VAG products still looks good, unlike most of the auto landscape these days) but there is definitely cost cutting creeping into the latest interiors.
Also Toyota Group does less cost cutting. Just like VAG interiors suffer the most but still they are very good.
 
Though on the other hand bow much mileage do you have to get over the class norm to offset that the car is essentially disposable if anything goes wrong with the transmission?
It doesn't matter because they're all leased for bottom-dollar.
 
Can’t remember what car, but it’s like there are two Z stacked on top of each other. I can’t unsee it.
 
That price, lol. It’s a littl more expensive than something like a Mustang Darkhorse which comes with a 500hp V8.
 
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