Datsun 280ZX Review and Specs

Datsun 280ZX Review

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Luxury features
  • Good mileage

Cons

  • Rarity of used models
  • Poor acceleration
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Overview, Look, and Feel of the Datsun 280ZX

The Datsun 280ZX was a very popular grand tourer sports coupe that was offered by Nissan during the decades when it marketed its cars under the Datsun brand name. The car was also marketed as the Fairlady Z and 280Z in other markets. It was manufactured from 1978 to 1983, and during this period, it made a lasting impression on the automotive market.

The Datsun 280ZX was part of the second generation of Z cars, which started with the 260Z and 280Z and was stopped in 1878. This generation was the first to get a ‘By Nissan’ sign alongside the Datsun badge, signifying its origin. The radical design of the Datsun 280ZX made it extremely popular, with the car winning the Motor Trends Car of the Year award in 1979.

When compared to the original 280Z, the Datsun 280ZX was a completely different car on the outside. Under the bonnet, both had the same L28 6-cylinder engine as well as other drivetrain components. The car was introduced as a 2-seater as well as a 2+2 seater. The oil crisis during the late 1970s caused Nissan to focus more on fuel economy and emissions rather than performance. As a result, most of the early Datsun 280ZX models were less about speed and more about mileage. Nevertheless, the car still does a lot of things right, like its shape. The Datsun 280ZX is one of the first cars to have been wind-tunnel tested extensively, and the first one by Nissan. For this reason, the car was more aerodynamic than its predecessors.

Nissan improved the aerodynamics by making significant changes, like closing the open grille and changing the form of the car to reduce drag coefficient from 0.467 to 0.385 and life coefficient from 0.41 to 0.14, both of which are quite significant. The new design of the Datsun 280ZX also had a lower centre of gravity for greater stability and carefully equalised weight distribution in the 2-seaters as well as 2+2 seaters. The length of the car was increased for a larger 80L fuel tank. In the end, the Datsun 280ZX gave better mileage and stability at high speeds than the 280Z.

All these improvements, though, came at the cost of raw acceleration. The first models were reported to have lower power outputs, but this was because of a difference in the method of rating. However, from early 1979 onward, the Datsun 280ZX received engines rated at 108kW, which was actually slower than the previous-generation 240Z. This was mostly because of the weight increase and the increased control on engine emissions. Most models would remain like this until the introduction of the Datsun 280ZX Turbo in 1981. As a result, early reviews about the car were mixed.

Some did not like the grand tourer-like design and performance of the car, but most others were happy with the increased passenger comfort, refinement, and market appeal. Simply put, the Datsun 280ZX was a roaring success.

Nissan introduced a few changes to the car over time and released some limited editions as well from time to time. The first one was the Datsun 280ZX-R in 1979, which came with a homologated whale-tail spoiler, special decals, and ZX-R logos. The next year, another 10th Anniversary limited edition was available with special trim features like leather seating and black-gold or black-red colour schemes. In the same year, the Datsun 280ZX became available with a T-bar roof as an option. This roof could be manually removed and stored in the boot.

Datsun 280ZX Engine Specs and Performance

The 2.0L, 6-cylinder engine delivered around 101W of power, allowing the Datsun 280ZX to hit 100km/h in less than 7.5 seconds. In comparison, the Porsche 924 Turbo reaches the same speed a solid 2 seconds later. Even though it was not the fastest, the Datsun 280ZX was definitely fast enough to deliver a thrilling ride. This was despite the fact that some people criticised the heaviness and lack of response of the new Z car.

Even the critics acknowledged the fact that this coupe could hold its own among the best racers at the time. Though it lost some of the sportiness, especially in the first few years, there is no denying that the Datsun 280ZX performed incredibly well as a grand tourer. It even had the comfort and luxury to be a tourer. Over the years, the price of this car has increased significantly, but the car offers the same value, especially when compared to the first-generation 240Z.

Standard Equipment and Options for the Datsun 280ZX

The Datsun 280ZX was available in two trims. The base trim came as a no-nonsense 2-seater, while the top-end GL got all the luxury equipment, except for leather seats and an optional digital cluster from 1982 onwards. The equipment available with the Datsun 280ZX was really high quality, especially for a sporting car. Standard kit included power windows, a 4-speaker stereo system with balance control, plush velour upholstery, cruise control, and remote adjustable door mirrors.

Datsun 280ZX's Competition

The Datsun 280ZX was available in two trims. The base trim came as a no-nonsense 2-seater, while the top-end GL got all the luxury equipment, except for leather seats and an optional digital cluster from 1982 onwards. The equipment available with the Datsun 280ZX was really high quality, especially for a sporting car. Standard kit included power windows, a 4-speaker stereo system with balance control, plush velour upholstery, cruise control, and remote adjustable door mirrors.

Standard Equipment and Options for the Datsun 280ZX

The Datsun 280ZX was available in two trims. The base trim came as a no-nonsense 2-seater, while the top-end GL got all the luxury equipment, except for leather seats and an optional digital cluster from 1982 onwards. The equipment available with the Datsun 280ZX was really high quality, especially for a sporting car. Standard kit included power windows, a 4-speaker stereo system with balance control, plush velour upholstery, cruise control, and remote adjustable door mirrors.

Datsun 280ZX's Competition

The Datsun 280ZX was available in two trims. The base trim came as a no-nonsense 2-seater, while the top-end GL got all the luxury equipment, except for leather seats and an optional digital cluster from 1982 onwards. The equipment available with the Datsun 280ZX was really high quality, especially for a sporting car. Standard kit included power windows, a 4-speaker stereo system with balance control, plush velour upholstery, cruise control, and remote adjustable door mirrors.

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