It’s been over a decade since Nissan released a new Z car. But our long wait is over with the premier of the new Nissan Z Proto. We’ve got all the details below.
Like you, we’ve been waiting patiently, and lately perhaps less than patiently, for a worthy successor to Nissan’s current Z car, the thirteen-year old 370Z. And at long last, the wait is over, as Nissan has revealed their next generation of the Z, the Z Proto (as in prototype), and boy does it deliver.
For many fans of the classic Z cars of old, the unveiled Z Proto brought a sigh of relief. That’s because Nissan has struck an excellent balance between honoring the heritage of their Z cars while pushing things forward at the same time.
The prototypical Z car profile is alive and well, with a long, low hood and rear sloping coupe roofline. A large square grille echoes the 240Z and 350Z, while making the “modern” and “fashionable” update of making the grille big. The new headlights are an amalgam of the 240Z’s “sugar scoops” and the current 370Z’s. Around back, the dual bar taillights nod to those of the 300ZX. The badging too has a retro flair with the classic circular Z and Fairlady Z badges set at a rakish angle.
I want to take a step back and appreciate what Nissan is doing here with the Z Proto. Consider Toyota’s recently revamped Supra. Rather than conjure up the Supra of our youths, Toyota chose to boldly (or misguidedly) re-imagine the Supra. The resulting design was nothing if not divisive. Alternatively, consider the case of Ford’s returning Bronco. Ford chose to home in on a single and much beloved generation and used that to guide their design choices. The resulting new Bronco has been a smash hit. It would appear Nissan took the same route as Ford (though mixing elements from throughout the nameplate’s history), and we can only assume they’ll see similar success.
Though Nissan released only a few details on the powertrain in the Z Proto, what we do know reinforces the optimism sparked by the car’s exterior. Here’s what we know: the new Z will feature a 3.0-L twin-turbocharged V6 making somewhere around 400hp. This will be paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. Yes, a proper manual is the default (an automatic will be added somewhere down the line, too). Nissan doesn’t specify, but we’ll speculate this motor will likely be sourced from one of Infiniti’s existing VR-series engines. While that’s not strictly a new toy to play with, there’s a lot to be said for a thoroughly engineered and sorted powerplant.
Nissan also released some images of the interior, which looks like a properly modern update while also giving a few nods to its pedigree. First, you’ll find the new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster directly behind a new steering wheel, complete with a vintage Z badge dead center. You’ll also find a real hand brake for all of you with dreams of drifting your new Z. And then there are the nifty auxiliary analogue gauges on the dash (right above the obligatory infotainment screen). These include gauges for turbo/boost pressure, battery voltage, and turbocharger speed.
Overall, the interior of the Z Proto looks like a proper sports car without breaking too much new ground. The new Z will, after all, be an enthusiast’s car first and foremost.
Though it is still just a prototype, expect the new generation of the Nissan Z car to hew closely to the current Z Proto. Nissan hasn’t set any firm dates on release but said we can look forward to a new Z sometime in the spring of 2021.