The Next Generation Nissan Z Proto Is Finally Here

Andrew Cummings
September 18, 2020

The pretty, bright-eyed yellow canary sitting before you is the all-new Nissan Z Proto, an early look at what Nissan's cooking up with the seventh-generation Z. If it feels more like you're looking at an older generation Z, that's on goal.

Channelling the brand's iconic 240Z - with headlights from the Japan-only 240ZG and oval taillights from the 300ZX's - the successor to the exhausted 370Z is a retro-inspired charmer, sporting a sweeping fastback roofline and Infiniti's 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6.

Created to "fit the driver and passenger like a glove", the Proto Z's interior is one of simplicity with very few buttons and switches to be found.

Unveiled at a virtual event that took place at Yokohama, the prototype car's technical specification which includes a twin-turbocharged V6 which is mated to a 6-speed manual does not leave much to be desired, for a manual in the sportscar scene is a rarity today. Power to the rear wheels is yet to be confirmed, although the Q60 Red Sport produces 298kW from the same engine suggesting it may well arrive with more power than 370Z Nismo's 253kW. This came straight from the mouth of Z Proto's chief product specialist, Hiroshi Tamura, who told Cars Guide that "we are going to have a two-pedal version and some appropriate performance". "The look of this is close to final". Definitely offering it as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid would have ruined the purity, which is why Nissan has decided against such powertrains in its sports cars (for both its Z-cars and the GT-R).

Other cues taken from the original Z vehicle include the teardrop-shaped headlights, pointed nose and bright yellow pearlescent paint, a colour Nissan says was a customer favourite on both the 240Z and Z32 series 300ZX. The transition from the rear quarter glass to the low slung rear tail adds to the effect. Its black-inset rectangular taillights instantly evoke the second-generation 300ZX, aka the Z32.

The rear bumper meanwhile is dominated by a new carbon-fibre diffuser from which protrude a pair of silver exhaust tips, another styling cue first seen on the 350Z back in the early 2000s. The only other spec numbers now confirmed by Nissan are wheel and tyre sizes: the 19-inch rims sit on 255/40 R19 (front) and 285/35 R19 (rear) tyres.

Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The six-speed manual transmission remains alive and well. The Z Proto also sports three dashboard-mounted gauges similar to the ones on the 350Z, one of which is the boost gauge that shows turbo pressure.

"This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm". As a prototype, work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years. Because not only does the new Z look great, it's also filled with throwback references to old Z cars.

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