What is the Z Proto?
In a word: hope. Nissan's current-generation sports car — the 370Z — has languished without any meaningful updates since 2009 and we've had serious doubts about the future of Nissan's iconic two-seater. The Z Proto, then, is our first sign that Nissan is committed to the formula. The Z Proto offers us a fairly complete look into the future of the model and displays the extent Nissan is willing to go to reinvigorate itself in the North American market. Together with a twin-turbo V6 engine and styling that recalls classic Z hallmarks, the Z Proto shows us what a modern, affordable Nissan sports car can look like.
Nissan's Z Proto Concept Shows Us a Glimpse of 370Z Successor
A Light at the End of a Long, Dark Tunnel
What is the Z Proto?
What's under the Z Proto's hood?
If we put on our thinking caps, we can take a good guess at what the future Z will pack, even though Nissan hasn't released many details at this point. Our best guess is the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine found in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models. And while we're not particularly fond of those cars, we do like the V6's output (400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque) as well as its smooth power delivery. It's likely Nissan will bump the power just a bit to put it further ahead of the Toyota GR Supra's 382-horsepower inline-six.
We wonder if Nissan will offer a lower-power model, à la the GR Supra 2.0. That would allow Nissan to offer a lower-priced version, but unless it detunes the V6, we're at a loss as to which existing engine from the Nissan family it could use instead. On the other side of the power equation, an even more potent Nismo version is possible in the future. Happily, Nissan will continue to offer a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, with an automatic transmission also planned.
How's the Z Proto's interior?
Nissan is going for a combination of vintage and modern with the Z Proto. Touches such as a dished steering wheel harken back to the original 240Z, while a 12.3-inch instrument cluster presents a modern look. Nissan says it sought opinions from professional racing drivers to aid in penning the Z Proto's cockpit, though we doubt they'd be much good in designing an intuitive infotainment system. The interior of the current 370Z leaves a lot to be desired, so we're hopeful that Nissan's recent successful interior redesigns, like the ones in the Sentra and Altima, carry over to the next-generation Z.
How economical is the Z Proto?
Since the Z is currently just a prototype — albeit a very finished one — there's no pricing information to speak of. But given its historically affordable position and likely competition, we expect it to hew close to the Toyota GR Supra's pricing strategy. For context, the Supra starts around $43,000, with the six-cylinder retailing for roughly $50,000.
It's been far too long since we've seen a fully competitive Nissan Z, and we wouldn't have put money on Nissan introducing a successor. But the Z Proto concept has genuinely given us something to look forward to. Nissan is determined to turn itself around, and offering a fun and engaging sports car at a relatively accessible price would do wonders for the automaker's image.