Following numerous teasers, Nissan has finally whipped the covers off its new Z car concept; the ‘Z Proto’ — a car it describes as a sportster that “looks to the future” but is “inspired by its past”.
For the new Z, Nissan has stepped back from its 370Z predecessor to produce a car that’s much more referential to Z cars of the 1970s — namely the 240ZG. This is where things like the Z Proto’s gaping square mouth and beady round headlights with half-circle undershadow come from. Overall length sits at 4382mm, with width and height 1850mm and 1350mm respectively. Its Dunlop Sport Maxx rubber is staggered; 255/40 up front and 285/35 out back.
The retro vibe extends past just the front fascia, though. The 240 vibe extends to the shape of the bonnet and the car’s overall silhouette. It’s an interesting look in photos; in some looking like a lean low-slung mini supercar and in others looking like the stout, nugget-like sports car its dimensions and short rear overhang purport it to be.
Things like the shape of the taillights also carry the retro aesthetic, while the firm character line that declines from the top of the front wing, through the door handle, and down to the rear arch emphasises the short wheelbase. The interior is suitably old-school too, with its focus on squared-off edges and touches from the past like the three gauges on the dash and the single cup-holder in the centre console.
Yes, when push comes to shove, the Z Proto could be labeled as just another teaser. But, having gone over it together with a fine-tooth comb, the NZ Autocar office collective would be very surprised to see many visual changes between this and its production counterpart.
“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” said Nissan head of design Alfonso Albaisa,. “Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”
“The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s. The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z’s identity.”
If there’s an area Nissan is still working on with the Z Proto, it may well be its mechanicals. The firm confirmed in its unveiling that it will make use of a twin-turbo V6 paired to a six-speed manual. There’s no reference to any automatic, but remember that this is merely a prototype and a self-shifter (potentially a seven-speed carry over from Infiniti) is rumoured to be in the works.
Nissan’s notes on power and output are brief; “As a prototype, work is now underway on synchronising the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years,” it said. It’s been rumoured that one likely format of engine is the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, which produces 298kW and 475Nm of torque.
“The Z, as a pure sports car, represents the spirit of Nissan,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. “It’s a key model in our Nissan NEXT transformation plan, and it’s proof of our ability to do what others don’t dare to do, from A to Z. As a Z fan myself, I’m excited to announce that the next Z is coming.
“With the Z, we’re bringing drivers the excitement of a pure sports car. For more than 50 years we have been creating the legend of Z together. I’m glad you’re with us for the next exciting chapter. The new Z is on its way.”