Petrolheads, drifters and boy racers smiled like Cheshire cats when Nissan recently announced that its 2023 replacement for the 370Z, the Z, would also be offered with a manual transmission.
This is good news in an era where manual gearboxes have become an endangered species across the board. Enthusiasts and purists love the direct feedback that you get from manual ‘boxes that makes for a white knuckle and visceral driving experience.
So far so good, but caveat emptor because a spoiler alert lies ahead in the form of quieter factory exhausts being fitted on manual transmission Z models. Why? Because beige bureaucrats and regulators in sunny California have decided that engine and exhaust notes need to be very strictly regulated. The irony is not lost on us if you consider the exhilarating drive in a throaty three-door GT coupé down the famous Pacific Coast Highway. That said, California is also the Toyota Prius’s natural habitat Stateside.
How does it work? Cars must be tested from 0 to 50 km/h at full speed, past a microphone, under specific parameters, to measure its sound in decibels. Where automatic transmission cars only need to accelerate by using as much throttle as possible without down-gearing, manually driven cars need to do their karaoke performance in either second or third gear with the throttle wide open, which also means a forced downshift to the lowest possible gear to reach its maximum rpm during the test. This has meant that Nissan has had to fit a quieter muffler to the six-speed Z and, according to those with an ear to the ground, the difference is noticeable.
Many will of course lament this peculiar development. I remember as a child that you would hear the low, rich rumbling soundtrack of the Datsun 280Z’s inline six long before you actually saw it. According to Nissan they will be offering the Z with a NISMO exhaust upgrade that most buyers will in all likelihood be opting for anyway. For those who don’t, aftermarket exhausts are already available, so all is not lost.
Words: Thys de Beer