📂︎ Something for the Weekend | 🖳︎ Wayne Gorrett | 🖃︎ September 18, 2020
➤ Likely a 400bhp bi-turbo V6 | Six-speed manual ‘box | Rear-wheel drive | Not for the UK
* Click on images for higher-resolution
Within the unhinged world of the 1,000 plus horsepower, multi-million-pound car, specialist manufacturers are tripping over themselves to produce stupid, pointless supercars. Well, the world doesn’t need more supercars. What it needs is super cars. Here’s a new one you can’t have…
The Nissan Z Proto was revealed during a virtual online event in the USA earlier this week and looks to offer just about everything Z enthusiasts have been hoping for.
However, evidencing its lack of commitment to the UK and Europe’s sports car market, Nissan UK says the new Z won’t be offered here in the UK or to our friends over the ditch. The carmaker cited a ‘shrinking European sports car market and specific regulations on emissions’ as the reasons why it was ‘unable to build a viable business case’ for the car’s European release. It seems a hybrid variant is not even being considered.
We’re told the car in these released images is only a ‘prototype’, but those in the know say that, apart from perhaps a few aero tweaks, it’s 96 per cent production ready. (Personally, I hope there’s a redesigned front grille somewhere in the remaining four per cent.)
Style wise, the new Z blends highlights from the Z’s long history into one, clean, modern package. Under that handsome exterior is a twin-turbo engine at the front sending power via a manual cogbox to the rear drive wheels – all classic ingredients of a truly thrilling sports car.
The exterior exudes styling cues that echo a variety of Z cars from the past, but the one that seems to have had the most influence is the original Datsun 240Z. Up front, the headlights and surrounding body work feature a low, semi-circle shape that suggests the scalloped headlight openings on that early-70’s classic.
There are chrome highlights across the middle of the grille like the 240Z’s bumper. Then there’s the rear pillar treatment with circular Z badges and the angled “Fairlady Z” badge on the tailgate that also appeared on the original car. The bonnet bulge has been a longstanding Z trait and the rear taillights are directly inspired by the ’90s 300ZX.
The divisive rectangular grille and vertical character lines on the front fascia are reminiscent of the 350Z, while the linear creases and muscular rear fenders are very much like those of the outgoing 370Z. The Z Proto is a few millimetres wider than the current 370Z, but is 127mm longer.
Inside, the retro theme continues – but with a large dollop of modernity. The dashboard remains driver-centric, with the centre stack angled toward the driver, as do the Z’s traditional triple auxiliary gauges mounted atop the dashboard.
The doors show some current Z cues with the rounded door handles and air vents directly ahead of them. But, unlike the ageing 370Z, there’s a large infotainment display in the centre console and the instrument panel is housed in a 12.3-inch screen.
Mechanically, Nissan is keeping schtum about the Z Proto. But, what we do know is good news. There’s a front-mounted twin-turbo V6 connected to a six-speed manual transmission, with an automatic transmission in development and likely intended for the US.
It’s possible the engine is a version of the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 used by Infiniti, which develops 400bhp, placing it a direct competitor with the Toyota Supra and Ford Mustang and knocking rudely on the door of the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0.
At this point, it’s just speculation and Nissan noted during their online reveal that development of the Z Proto is early enough that there could be significant changes.
No date has been provided for the launch of the production Z car. However, given the prototype’s seemingly finished interior design, a debut during 2021 is probable.