Jay Leno Drives 2023 Nissan Z, Gets Nostalgic About 240Z and Affordable Performance

The 2023 Nissan Z adds something exciting to the affordable sports car market. It’s got a trick turbo V6 as standard, making 400 horsepower, a six-speed manual, and great looks, all for less money than a GR Supra. But it’s the history, the heritage of the original Datsun 240Z that gets this next reviewer excited.

People will go back and forth about the “400Z” and the Supra, talking about which is faster and why. But Jay Leno was born in 1950, which means he was a young lad back when the original Datsun 240Z arrived in America.

Back then, Japanese sports cars were criticized for not having the heritage of their British counterparts. Of course, that’s not the case right now, because the Z brand has been around for over 50 years, producing icons.

The original 240Z was a GT 3-door, two-seat sports car. Nissan/Datsun already had experience selling cars in America and found it needed to make something big with a higher engine displacement. The sleek styling, modern and efficient tech, and relatively low price made this a success.

Nowadays, you can hardly find an early 240Z in original condition, and when you do, it’s going to cost a fortune. Also, it was pretty hard to find a good review video of this car up until a few years back. And I’ve always thought Jay Leno’s was among the best. In it, he drove a rare G-Nose version of the car and also asked Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura a burning question: will Nissan resurrect the 240Z to celebrate their 80th anniversary?

The denim-clad comedian also fondly remembers that trip to Japan 10 years ago because he’s featured a small clip in his review of the 2023 car. Otherwise, this isn’t one of those detailed reviews where you learn how everything works or where the “400Z” sits in the market. It’s more about how this sports car fits Leno’s personal preference.

I especially found it amusing how both Leno and the Nissan representative gloss over the turbos. Not only is the VR30DDTT twin-turbocharged, but the two FZ5T turbos made by Garrett are some of the most advanced, featuring turbo speed sensors in addition to billet compressor wheels, exhaust gas temperature sensors, and electronic wastegate actuators.

It’s a very precise way of turbocharging compared to measuring just boost, and basically, only Ferrari has this. One of the three pods on the 400Z’s dashboard now displays exactly this metric: turbo speed.

Another thing Nissan’s representative “forgot” to mention is how the 9-speed automatic in this is from Mercedes. If you really want to know how the 400Z does in the performance market, we recommend this comprehensive review from Jason Cammisa, who’s way cooler than Jason Momoa.



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