The Nissan Z is one of the most important sports car families of all time. Its members include the iconic 240Z, the game-changing Z32 300ZX, and the tuner hit 350Z. But today’s 370Z is starting to wither on the vine. Quick and exciting as it may be, the decade-old Z is dated and spartan inside. But a replacement is coming. Here’s what we know so far.
It Will Look a Lot Like This
On September 15, Nissan launched the Z Proto, a near-production-ready prototype of its new Z sports car. With a retro-inspired design, the car is pretty much what the road-ready Z will looks like once it hits dealerships next year. The front end has a massive, boxed grille taken from the original 240Z, while the rear light cluster shares much of its styling with the Nineties 300ZX.
There are other throwback styling touches as well, including the fastback roofline and teardrop-shaped headlights. For a more in-depth analysis of the car’s looks, head on over to our dedicated gallery.
Its Twin-Turbo V-6 Should Make Around 400 HP
The new Z will be powered by a version of Infiniti’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, sending power to the rear wheels. Nissan hasn’t release specs or performance numbers yet, saying only that it’ll be more powerful than the current 370Z’s 332-horsepower 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6.
We suspect the car will use the 400-horsepower version currently found in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400. It won’t be the first time we’ve seen this variant in a Z—Nissan built a current-gen 370Z with the powerplant called the Project Clubsport 23 for SEMA in 2018.
It Will Have a Manual Transmission
The Z Proto shown above is equipped with a real, actual six-speed manual transmission, which Nissan says will be standard on the production car. This gives the car an edge over its main competitor, the Toyota Supra, which is currently only offered with an eight-speed automatic.
Of course, a fast-shifting automatic will be available as an option for those who’d rather let the car do the shifting.
It Will Use a Heavily Modified Version of the 370Z’s Platform
On the day of the Z Proto’s launch, Nissan product specialist Hiroshi Tamura confirmed in an interview the new Nissan Z will use a heavily modified version of the current Z architecture, rather than an entirely new platform. This contradicts previous reports claiming the Z might instead share its underpinnings with the Infiniti Q60.
In a world where sports cars are an ever-shrinking portion of the market, it’s not exactly easy to justify the development of an all-new architecture. So this move makes sense. Hopefully it won’t have a negative impact on how the car drives.
The Official Name Is Still Up in the Air
One thing we don’t know is what it’ll be called. Normally we assume that a new generation of a car will retain its current name, but Nissan’s Z cars usually change names every generation. Historically they’ve been based on displacement; the 300ZX had a 3.0-liter engine, while the 350Z had a 3.5-liter engine and so on.
Problem is, if the 3.0-liter turbo engine does end up powering the next Z, we find it hard to believe that Nissan would bring back the 300Z name. Generally, numbers in the automotive world perpetually go up, a quirk of marketing where you never want to sell something that seems “lower” than last year’s model. That’s why we’re expecting it to be called the 400Z, as Autocar reported. The term “Z Proto,” as far as we can tell, has been reserved only for the prototype we’ve been shown above.
We Should Have Most of the Details Sometime in Late 2020 or Early 2021
According to CarScoops, the debut was slated for late 2020. But with so many schedules thrown off by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that date could be pushed back. Car and Driver, for its part, has always expected the 400Z to bow in 2021. Pricing and release information have yet to come out, but we’ll continue to update this post as we get more details about the next Z.
It’s Not Coming to Europe
Nissan confirmed in a statement on September 16 it would not be bringing the new Z sports car to Europe, citing ever-tightening emissions regulations as the reason behind the decision.
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