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There’s no point beating around the bush. I’ve spent several weeks behind the wheel of the 2024 Nissan Z Performance, fitted with either the automatic or manual transmission, and the Toyota Supra 3.0. For sports car supremacy, the Toyota Supra 3.0 beats the Nissan Z Performance in just about every way.

Rear three-quarter view of a red 2024 Nissan Z
2024 Nissan Z | Nissan

The Z’s styling is fantastic, so it’s certainly better looking than the peculiar Supra. The Nissan is also more comfortable for daily use. But in all the areas that really matter in a sports car — acceleration, braking, handling, overall performance and feel — the Supra holds the edge. The Toyota is also slightly more pragmatic, sports a far more luxe interior and makes a better noise. Yes, the Z Performance is a bit cheaper than the Supra 3.0. But the cost savings don’t outweigh its performance disadvantages. That’s not to say the Z can’t hold its own, but in a world in which the Supra is also available, it plays second fiddle.

But if one considers the wildcard — a propensity to produce grins from its driver — the 2024 Nissan Z Performance with the six-speed manual must be the choice. Like the friend that practically pours booze down your throat during a night out on the town, the Z practically screams, “You are goingto have fun, dammit.”

One of the ways the Z achieves this is by sticking out its backside more readily than an exotic dancer at work. Give the throttle anything more than a gentle prod while exiting a corner and the Z’s swings out its rear as if it were presenting a prospective mate. It’s always an easily controlled slide, but it absolutely gets your attention. Usually in a good way. Sometimes, though, you’re just trying to turn onto a freeway ramp and inadvertently give the car beside you a good scare

It becomes apparent the Z doesn’t want you to drive it like a Floridian octogenarian. “Hey, you have a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 cranking out 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque here,” it seems to say, if I can again personify a sports car.

If you’re the kind of driver who views every turn as an opportunity to hold a mini drifting session, the Z is the ideal sports car.

The Z also gives drivers more of a workout when thrashing undulating back roads for those who enjoy finding, and sometimes exceeding, available grip levels. One contributing factor is the Z’s longer throws in manual models. More notably, there is lateral body lean, and the nose dives under hard braking. The Z’s Bridgestone Potenza tires are also less grippy than the Michelin Pilot Super Sports fitted to the Supra, so they don’t prevent its tail-wagging shenanigans. And it means the Nissan reaches its limits quicker than the Supra.

Drive the same curvy road with fervor in both the Supra and Z, and the Supra’s speed and composure will thrill. Exit the Z after making the same trek and you’ll likely be wearing a smirk that is one part “impressive performance” and three parts “Man, I felt like I about lost it a few times back there.”

So, if you have around $55,000 burning a hole in your pocket and can’t decide between the Supra 3.0 and Z Performance, the deciding factor could come down to how you define fun. If your idea of a good time behind the wheel is outright speed and performance, the Supra is the better bet. If you are a bit of thrill seeker and long for the adrenaline that comes from sliding a sports car and living on the ragged edge through a series of switchbacks, the 2024 Nissan Z Performance is the obvious choice.

I’m no hooligan, but the Z doesn’t mind. It makes you into one. It will put a smile on your face, even if it’s not as good as the Supra 3.0. I don’t, however, suggest driving it after recovering from a stomach bug, as I did. It’s a sports car that produces enough sphincter-clenching moments as is.