After months of teasers and videos, the Nissan Z Proto Concept – an almost production-ready preview of the upcoming and highly-anticipated Nissan 400Z – has been revealed ahead of its on sale date potentially in 2022. It features a twin-turbo V6 engine, rear-wheel drive and a slinky coupe body. And it’s a manual!
At the virtual unveiling, Nissan was proud to point out the Z Proto’s modern-but-retro styling – an ode to 50 years of Z – but also quick to ensure that the new model will be a thoroughly modern car. It’s interesting then that Nissan hasn’t revealed what architecture the Z Proto is based on – though it appears to be the same one as the 370Z, which dates back to the 2002 350Z.
The most notable design element of the concept car is the classically Z side profile, with a roofline that harks back to Z cars of old – including its 10-year old forebear. Ignoring the contrast roof in what is a very 2020 colour scheme, the bright yellow paintwork is said to be inspired by the first-generation Z (S30) and the 300ZX (Z32). It even has a Z badge above its rear haunch like Z cars of old.
At the front, the hood and teardrop-shaped headlights are again inspired by the original Z – with the latter encompassing two half-circles that hark back to the Japan-only 240ZG of the 70s. The rectangular grille is a clear link between the Z Proto and its direct predecessor, the 370Z.
The rear end’s horizontal theme is inspired by the 300ZX (Z32) – with two rectangular tail lights that are married by a glossy black bar. The rest of the exterior design is rounded out by flashes of carbon fibre on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear diffuser and some racy 19-inch alloys and dual exhaust tips.
Also said to bring modern and retro together, the cabin is very much an exercise in minimalism – with subdued forms and few contrasting colours and materials. Designed with the help of professional motorsports legends, the Z Proto’s cabin is described as ’an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track.’
The up-to-the-minute 12.3-inch digital driver’s display display and infotainment touchscreen are a welcome change from the 370Z’s archaic interior, but there are some elements – including the centre console, manual handbrake, door cards and dash-top gauges – that are very much carried over.
At least the main touchpoints like the steering wheel and manual shifter (hooray) look all new. Subtle yellow highlights on the seats and stitching on the dash tie the interior with the exterior of the show car.
Nissan’s Chief Product Specialist, Hiroshi Tamura says that the new car has been engineered to make it easy for customers to tap into the Z Proto’s capabilities and “feel as connected as possible to the car.” He also pointed out that every new Z has always been more powerful than the last, and this time is no different – with the new model sporting a V6 twin-turbocharged engine that is guaranteed to outpace the current 370Z’s 253kW/371Nm. Looking within Nissan’s catalog, we suspect the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 from Infiniti should fit the bill as it can comfortably put out 298kW/475Nm.
And the final piece of the new Z puzzle is the transmission – with Nissan answering the prayers of enthusiasts by offering a six-speed manual gearbox. Tamaru clearly wasn’t joking about feeling connected to the car.
Nissan has remained tight lipped about when the production model will be revealed but reports indicate that, despite the production-ready looks of the Z Proto, it could be as far away as 2023.
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Nissan Z Proto Specifications:
|Twin-turbo petrol V6
|Wheel and tyre size:
|Front: 255/40R19 Rear: 285/35R19