For Nissan’s newest sports car, they looked back to the past for inspiration. Introducing the Z Proto, a sexy retro two-seater that Nissan hopes will be a Supra killer.
Nissan has been producing Z-cars for over 50 years, which began with the Datsun 240Z in 1969. However, the Japanese carmaker hasn’t released a new Z-car in over a decade – the 370Z back in 2009. The Nissan Z Proto, which will likely be named the 400Z, will provide modern performance with an old school appearance that pays homage to iconic Z car models of the past.
Nissan unveiled the Z Proto on Tuesday, releasing photos and specs. The Z Proto is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with horsepower expected to be in the 400 HP neighborhood. Car And Driver reports that GT-R guru and chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura says the engine is a “modified version of the VR30DDTT unit available in both 300- and 400-hp states of tune in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60.”
The 400Z six-speed manual transmission will be standard, and a conventional paddle-shift automatic gearbox will be optional.
— Nissan (@Nissan) September 16, 2020
The design is retro, yet modern. Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso Albaisa, said, “We don’t use the word retro, it’s more of an homage.” The 400Z pays tribute to Z-cars of the past; headlights and stylings inspired by the 240Z as well as taillights and sloping rear reminiscent of the 300ZX. The Z Proto will be five inches longer than the 370Z. Probably the most noticeable characteristic of the Z Proto is the gigantic, rectangle grille.
The Z Proto sits on 19-inch wheels and has a manual handbrake lever. “The Z must have a strong connection between human and machine, like a dance partner,” Tamura added.
Inside the cockpit is a modern interior featuring a 12.3-inch digital touchscreen infotainment panel. But there is also a nod to the past with a trio of analog gauges, including a tachometer in the center dash.
The next-generation Z arrives sometime in 2021. The price of the 400Z was not given, but the current 370Z has a price tag just north of $30,000. The Nissan Z Proto’s chief competitor, the 2020 Toyota Supra, has a starting price of $50,000. As far as performance, Nissan will have its work cut out for it if the 400Z wants to beat Supra’s 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds.