The 300ZX fought Corvettes, Porsches, Supras. It still looks contemporary, but it was very much a car of the 1990s: what resulted when the newfound, misguided enthusiasm for flashy futurism actually gave way to practicality. The frivolity of the ’80s and its flashy techno-paradise of lasers and blinking digital displays gave way to a bunch of hungover engineers who looked at each other, slowly took off their Duran Duran hats, and said, “OK, seriously. Now what?”
“The world’s most thoroughly modern sports car,” we said in October of 1989. “For the ZX Turbo hardly misses a technological trick…and therein lies both the car’s greatest strengths and its debatable weaknesses.”
The Z32 was a new design. The body was wider with a rounder profile and fewer hard edges. It had a marginally increased drag coefficient of .31 compared to the Z31’s .30. Twin Turbocharged Z32s also featured a then-new active rear wheel steering systems called “Super HICAS”, which was actuated hydraulically until 1994 when Nissan switched to an electric actuator. Nissan designated the final 300 units earmarked for North American sale in 1996 as “Commemorative Edition” cars, although nothing new or exclusive to the model was included. The 1996 model years vehicles did not feature Nissan’s NVTC variable valve timing system, which had been present on all previous Z32 models. Production continued in Japan until August 2000, with styling updates and the addition of HID headlamps in 1998.
Unchanged from the previous generation 300ZX was the displacement of the 3-litre engine, now with dual overhead camshafts (DOHC), variable valve timing (VVT) and producing a rated 222 hp (166 kW) and 198 lb·ft (268 N·m) in naturally aspirated form. The turbo variant was upgraded with twin Garrett turbochargers and dual intercoolers producing 300 hp (224 kW; 304 PS) and 283 lb·ft (384 N·m) of torque. Performance varied from 0-60 times of 5.0-6.0 seconds depending on the source, and it had a governed top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h).