The current Nissan 370Z has been around since 2009, which is old in car years. But the company has finally gone back to the drawing board, and today we see our first look at the 370s long-awaited sequel – or at least an early version of it. The Nissan Z Proto may not be available for purchase yet (the name “Proto” means “prototype”), but it gives an early glimpse of what to expect for the production model.
Many of the details you see here – things like retro styling, modernized interiors and the twin-turbocharged V6 – should all make their way into production when the new Nissan Z finally hits the market. We expect Nissan’s new sports car to go on sale officially sometime next year. For now, all we can do is fawn over this very beautiful preview of what is to come.
Performance: Twin-Turbo Power
The core of the Nissan Z Proto is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Since this is still a concept, things like displacement and actual power figures remain a mystery. But if this is the same engine from the Infiniti Red Sport models, as reported, up to 400 horsepower (298 kilowatts) is expected from the new Z.
This figure marks a major upgrade over the current 370Z, which produces 332 hp (248 kW). Not only that, but it would give the Nissan Z a significant boost in the segment and put it more directly against competitors like the Toyota Supra – which produces a comparable 382 hp (285 kW) – as well as more powerful options like the Ford Mustang GT and Chevrolet Camaro SS, among other.
Z Proto’s new twin-turbo V6 comes paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, and all the as yet unknown power runs exclusively to the rear wheels. Nissan says an automatic transmission is also under development.
Exterior: Retro Chic
The look of the Nissan Z Proto respects its iconic ancestors. The bright yellow pearl-shaped paint job is a subtle nod to the first-generation 240, while the elongated hood, rounded LED headlights and squared grille mix signals from other Z-cars. There’s even a “Fairlady Z” mark on the trunk.
However, the Z Proto’s rear can be the most appealing angle with a black partition that runs the tailgate length and over the rear fenders and hides horizontal LED taillights below. The specific piece of design draws inspiration right from the 300s-300ZX era.
But it’s not all retro. Modern carbon fiber elements spice up the exterior, from the side skirts to the front lower lip to the rear diffuser. The body itself sits on a set of lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, and the rear end is topped off by a pair of exhaust tips.
In terms of size, the Nissan Z Proto is actually a bit larger than the current 370Z, especially in length. The new Z extends to 172.5 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width and is 51.6 inches high. The 370Z, meanwhile, is only 167.5 inches long, 72.6 inches wide and 51.8 inches high.
Interior: Clean and modern
The inside of the Nissan Z Proto is not as outwardly retro as the exterior, but it offers a clean layout with multiple screens. At the heart of the cabin is a so-called “deep dish” three-spoke steering wheel that bears the “Z” logo and has several controls on both sides.
The seats carry a mix of Alcantara and leather with yellow seams that transfer to the steering wheel, gearbox trunk and center console. And like its predecessor, the Nissan Z Proto has only two seats.
Technologically, just behind the wheel is a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that replaces the 370Z’s outdated analog meters. There’s also a brand new touchscreen – if it’s the same screen from the new Rogue, it’s supposed to be 9.0 inches – that runs Nissan’s latest infotainment system and three rounded indicators just above the center screen, on top of the dashboard.
Prices and availability
The Nissan Z Proto is just a concept, but we expect the production version to appear later next year as a 2022 model that has many of the characters you see here – including the dual-turbocharged V6 engine. More details like horsepower and the car’s starting price will be revealed closer to the sale date, but it may start around $ 40,000, which undercuts its Japanese rival, the Toyota Supra, somewhat.