Nissan has, rather gloriously, confirmed that a new Z-car sports coupe will go into production and that this Z Proto concept version is roughly 95 per cent of the finished car.
A key model
In spite of a generally shrinking sports car market, as everyone buys SUVs, Nissan says that a Z-car is still crucial to both its image and its engineering heritage. "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."
The design, although clearly picking up cues from the previous 350Z and 370Z models, includes some definite throwback to the classic, original 240Z of 1970 - the bright yellow paintwork is a direct 240Z nod, as is the black panel between the tail-lights, and the shape of the rear three-quarter. There's also a black-finished roof that references the 1990s Nissan 300ZX. According to Nissan's design team, striking the right balance between current and retro styling was key. "Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success," Albaisa said. "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."
Classic dials on a digital screen
In the cabin, once again, the idea was to combine modern with retro, so the instrument display is a cutting-edge 12.3-inch screen, but it can replicate the look of classic seventies dials and clocks, and there are seventies-style auxiliary gauges lined up atop the dashboard.
Critically, from an enthusiast's point of view, there is also a manual gearshift. That allows the driver full control of the V6 twin-turbo petrol engine (although we're sure an auto version will also follow).
A strong, dynamic performer
"The Z has always been a strong dynamic performer, making it easy for customers to enjoy its capabilities and feel as connected as possible to the car," said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the Z Proto. "This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm. Z is a balance of power and agility. It is a vehicle that creates a connection with the driver not just on the physical level, but emotionally, and responds to the driver's impulses."
"With the launch this summer of the ground-breaking Ariya EV, we've started a new era of electrification and autonomous driving technology," said Uchida. "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."