• Nissan revealed the first images of its upcoming Z sports car.
• The car will feature a twin-turbo V6 engine.
• The new Z sports car draws inspiration from past generations.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Nissan revealed the first official images of its new sports car, albeit in prototype form.
The car, called the Z Proto for now, is the next chapter in Nissan's rich history of producing sports cars that excel in every conceivable way. Though the car has been revealed in digital form only, it gives a good idea as to how the company envisions its future and how it ranks its sports car division.
The Z Proto is fitted with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine and a six-speed manual transmission sends power to the rear wheels. Yes, a manual! Traditionalists will rejoice at the thought of it. Though power figures are not yet determined, Nissan's next Z is expected to produce in the region of 294kW.
Nissan new prototype is a blend of between past and present to hint at what the future holds for the famed Japanese automaker. As such, the Z Proto has a fresh design - both for the exterior and interior.
Makoto Uchida, Nissan CEO, said: "The Z, as a pure sports car, represents the spirit of Nissan. 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."
Merging with the past
The Z Proto's silhouette gives reference to the original Z car, and the bright yellow paintwork is a nod to the colour used on the very first Z cars, the S30 and 300ZX (Z32) models. The shape of the bonnet, says Nissan, is also a reference to the S30, while the grille takes inspiration from the 370Z that's on sale today.
The headlights take on a distinct design, but the half-circles are in reference to the 240ZG that was sold only in Japan during the 1970s. At the rear, the Z32 inspired the taillights, albeit with a modern touch.
The car rides on 19-inch alloy wheels, while dual exhausts complete the image
Inside the cabin, yellow accents have been brought on in the stitching around the instrument panel and seats. The overall feel is that of a sports car made for both the road and the track, according to Nissan.
Nissan's Z Proto (Nissan Media)
For the last few years, Nissan had to sit back and watch as rivals such as Toyota and BMW came to market with fresh renditions of the Supra and Z4, respectively. For Nissan, it could not have been an easy pill to swallow, given that their cars have always been at the forefront of buyers' preference.
Their absence in the shape of a new car has been sorely felt, but at least the Z Proto is the most unambiguous indication yet that this Japanese automaker is back to reclaim some of the ground it's lost.
Both Nissan's Z cars and Toyota's Supra have cult followings around the world, and both automakers must keep that passion burning. Toyota realised it and partnered with BMW, but Nissan will produce its next car alone. This is something enthusiasts will appreciate, which should bode well for prospective clients who want a pure-bred Japanese sports car.
Though the car pictured here is still in prototype form, the production model shouldn't veer too far from this design ethos. We can expect the same design, with adjustments made, perhaps, to elements such as the grille or headlights, for example. Whichever way this plays out, Nissan will produce its next Z car, and it could be called the 400Z - in reference to the 400 horsepower (294kW) the engine will produce.
But the Z Proto has one massive ace up its sleeve: its manual gearbox. Whereas rival cars have moved away from the manual transmission, Nissan will produce a car for the purists. If - for whatever reason - the manual gearbox does not make it to production, Nissan had better come to the party with an automatic transmission that can compete with the brilliant eight-speed ZF gearbox that's used in the Supra and Z4.
Should Nissan make an effort to bring its new Z sports car to SA? And how would you gauge its future success locally? Email us with your thoughts.
Nissan's Z Proto (Nissan Media)