Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 2-door hatchback
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,900 – $7,500*


1992 Nissan 300 ZX Turbo 2-door coupe


1993 Nissan 300 ZX 2-door convertible


1994 Nissan 300 ZX 2-door convertible


1991 Nissan 300 ZX 2-door coupe


1993 Nissan 300 ZX 2-door convertible

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise
  • Ride
  • Visibility

For performance and image above all else, the well-assembled 300ZX is a fine choice–but at a high cost. Then again, its principal rivals–the Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Toyota Supra–are not exactly cheap, either.

Overview

Nissan redesigned its rear-drive sports car for introduction in spring 1989, adding a turbocharged model that fall. Two curvaceous body styles were offered: a 2-passenger coupe, and a 2+2 coupe with a small back seat.

A 222-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 was standard in all models except the 300ZX Turbo, which came only in 2-seater form. Equipped with twin turbochargers and twin intercoolers (one set for each cylinder bank), the four-cam, 24-valve 3.0-liter engine developed 300 horsepower with 5-speed manual shift, or 280 horsepower when fitted with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Automatic also was available with the less-powerful engine.

Turbos had intercooler inlets in the front air dam, a rear spoiler, Z-rated tires, and super HICAS (High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering) 4-wheel steering. That meant the rear wheels first turned slightly in the opposite direction from the front wheels, then in the same direction, to improve stability in fast lane-changes.

Antilock braking was standard. Door-mounted front seatbelts could be left buckled, to deploy automatically. A T-top roof was standard on the Turbo model. Other 2-passenger coupes could have a fixed roof or the removable roof panels.

Yearly Updates

1991 300ZX
A driver’s airbag became optional this year, and a new base model joined the lineup. Additional standard equipment included heated mirrors, an illuminated entry system, a cargo cover, and automatic temperature control. All except the base model had a Nissan/Bose audio system. Base models seated two, had no T-bar roof, and came only with 5-speed manual shift.
1992 300ZX
Optional in 1991 models, the driver’s airbag became standard this year. Otherwise, the 300ZX was little changed.
1993 300ZX
For the first time, the Z-car lineup included a factory-built convertible, introduced as an early 1993 model. Fitted with leather upholstery, the convertible had a manually folding top and a rear “hoop” over the interior, to increase structural rigidity and provide upper anchor points for the manual lap/shoulder belts. No other significant changes were evident.
1994 300ZX
A passenger-side airbag joined the driver’s airbag for 1994. New standard features included remote keyless entry for all models, and a power passenger seat for the convertible.
1995 300ZX
No change was evident in the sixth season of this generation of Nissan’s Z-car.
1996 300ZX
For its final season in Nissan’s lineup, no significant change was announced. Nissan chose to focus its attention on higher-volume models, letting the 300ZX disappear. As before, the selection consisted of base and hatchback coupes (with or without T-bar roof), a Turbo coupe, a 2+2 coupe, and a convertible with leather upholstery. Since its demise, several versions of a potential Z-car for the future have been seen at auto shows.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Regular 300ZX models had a 222-horsepower, dual-overhead-cam 3.0-liter V6 engine. A twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooled version of the 3.0-liter V6 went into the Turbo, making 300 horsepower with manual shift or 280 with automatic. Either engine could drive a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic unit.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 222
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 198
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
18/24
18/23
Turbocharged dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 280-300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 283
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
18/24
18/23

Road Test

More sports car than luxury model, the 300ZX does not cheat occupants of comforts or conveniences. In any form, though, the 300ZX emphasizes dynamic stability over comfort and practicality.

Strong low-end acceleration and prompt, spirited passing response characterize the base model, which can accelerate to 60 mph in 8 seconds or less. With the twin-turbo engine, 0-60 time drops to about 6.2 seconds.

An automatic transmission slows down the base car appreciably. Movement off the line is blunted, and only a serious stab at the throttle gets it to downshift for passing. With either transmission, the Turbo simply catapults away from stoplights and springs ahead from virtually any speed.

Gas mileage is passable. We averaged 18.7 mpg with an automatic transmission, and a 5-speed Turbo managed 17.1 mpg. Both require premium fuel.

A low, wide stance yields balanced, confidence-inspiring grip and handling. All models zip around tight corners with admirable agility, virtually no body lean, and commendable grasp–as long as the pavement is dry, that is. Traction diminishes greatly on wet roads. Rain and snow demand caution because it’s easy to break the rear end loose, but antilock-equipped braking ranks as commendable.

Sports-car handling produces a penalty in ride comfort. An ally in cornering maneuvers, the stiff suspension fails to absorb most bumps, but simply hammers over them. Rough roads induce little “cowl shake” in the convertible.

Strong performance yields a penalty in fuel economy. Expect less than 20 mpg, except in straight highway cruising.

Getting in or out of the low-slung cockpit demands some dexterity, and you’ll need plenty of room to fully open the wide, heavy doors. Once behind the wheel in the ergonomically correct interior, the driver will appreciate clearly marked gauges and handy controls. Seats are comfortable and supportive, with adequate room for two people to stretch out. On the downside, a low seating position and wide pillars on coupes make it difficult to see directly behind and over the shoulder. The 2+2’s back seat is strictly for luggage, and the coupe’s cargo bay is shallow and poorly shaped.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Nissan 300ZX

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 8
80%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 38

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.5 169.5 70.5 49.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5.8 18.2 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.1 43.0
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.5 169.5 70.5 48.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
23.7 18.7 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.8 43.0
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.5 178.0 70.9 48.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.5 18.7 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.1 34.4 43.0 22.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 300ZX 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 218
Injury 82
Theft 676

Trouble Spots

Clutch
Description: On turbocharged models ,the clutch may slip because the clutch-pedal return spring is too weak. (1990-91)
Fuel pump
Description: Adding fuel-injector cleaner to the gas tank can cause corrosion on the fuel injector coils, which will eventually damage them. (1990-94)
Poor drivability
Description: A problem with the power transistor causes drivability and idle problems, and there was a voluntary recall to replace it. (1990-93)
Power seat
Description: The original power-seat switch sticks out and is often kicked and broken, but there is a revised switch with a shorter lever and stronger housing available. (1990)
Water leak
Description: Leaves and other debris can collect in the evaporator housing, clogging the drain and causing water to leak into the passenger footwell. A revised cowl screen is required. (1990)
Windows
Description: The power windows may shudder during operation requiring revised window regulators (1990-91), or the windows may not operate due to dust building up in the main power window switch. (1990-92)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.