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Nissan Z Proto previews the next generation sports car with twin-turbo V-6, retro-modern design



The Nissan Z has inspired generations of sports car fans since its release in 1969. It has been an upstart, a disco-era style statement, an exclusive sports car and a long-in-the-tooth coupe that just tried to hold on. All the while, it was aimed at driver engagement and a sense of style. Z Proto Nissan showed on Tuesday combining all these elements together with design elements from the car’s six generations.

The prototype appears to be a sparsely disguised version of the Z35 generation’s production model due to the next 18 months to two years, at least from a design standpoint.

Nissan provided sparse information, so let’s start with what we know. Z Proto combines styling elements from previous Zs with a look to the future.

Nissan Z Proto

Nissan Z Proto

“Our designers did countless studies and sketches as we studied each generation and what made them a success,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s design manager. “Ultimately, we decided that the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”

The first generation car, the 240Z, inspired the shape of the hood, the slanted drop LED headlights and the long hood with short tire profile with the cab pushed back. The rectangular grille of the current model sits in the front, and the Z32 300ZX from the 1990s can be seen in the taillights and the shape of the rear end, especially above the rear diffuser. The pearl yellow paint is a tribute to a popular color in both 240Z and Z32 300ZX generations.

Nissan Z Proto

Nissan Z Proto

But Z is also modern. Carbon fiber cladding is used for the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance to reduce weight and fit a modern aesthetic.

The Proto Z is 4.7 inches longer than the current car, probably due to longer overhangs. It is also marginally higher and wider. It runs on 19-inch wheels, while the current model has 20s. Chief Engineer Hiroshi Tamura said the 19s give the car enough tires for a reasonable ride quality.

Under the long hood sits a dual-turbocharged V-6 connected to a 6-speed manual gearbox in a rear-wheel drive layout.

Nissan Z Proto

Nissan Z Proto

Inside, the Z Proto has an exclusive cut steering wheel that sits in front of a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with the tachet in the middle and 7,000 rpm. The one image that Nissan shared shows boost and water and oil temperature gauges in the cluster, although analog versions of these gauges are also at the top of the dashboard.

Z Proto’s black upholstery has yellow contrast stitching on the seats, dashboard hood, dashboard and door panels to play off the exterior color. The seats appear to be upholstered in a combination of leather and synthetic suede with yellow stripes. A center screen, probably an 8.0-inch touch screen, on the hyphen provides infotainment features.

What we do not know starts with the engine. Nissan has not confirmed how much power it will create or what size it is. Infiniti has a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that provides 400 horsepower. That’s probably the setup for the next Z. In fact, we expect the car to be called the 400Z.

Nissan Z Proto

Nissan Z Proto

We also do not know what changes will be made to the structure and suspension, although we do not suspect many. Nissan only shared that “work is underway to synchronize power with the grace and control that have defined Z for the past 50 years.” It looks like the next Z will use the same platform as the current car, and Tamura said it will run as a dance partner. The shift to 19-inch wheels could also reduce unshielded weight, improving handling. Tamura told us last year that the next generation Z may not be much lighter, but its suspension should help it run as it is.

In addition, we do not know what model year the next Z car will be, its trim levels, standard equipment and accessories, available safety features and prices. Will the new Z offer a higher-performance Nismo model? Will it be in line with the current model’s pricing of $ 32,000 – $ 48,000? When does it hit the market?

We learn more about these and other issues as Nissan prepares for next-generation production Z, perhaps by the end of 2021 as a 2022 model.


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