David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/15/20 8:01 p.m.
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What really matters about the just-unveiled Nissan Z Proto: According to the world-wide digital unveiling, the prototype features a six-speed manual transmission behind a twin-turbo V6.

After that, does anything else matter? Scroll down for the full release. 


YOKOHAMA, Japan – The new Z is coming.

Nissan today unveiled the Z Proto, signaling the company's intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. Shown at a virtual event beamed around the world from the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, the prototype car features a new design inside and out, as well as a V-6 twin turbocharged engine with a manual transmission.

First hinted at in a video named "Nissan A-Z" in May, the Nissan Z Proto pays full respect to 50 years of Z heritage. At the same time, it's a thoroughly modern sports car.

"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."

A global community of fans young and old attended today's virtual unveiling. Members of the Z Club in Japan, ZCON participants in Nashville, Tennessee, and enthusiasts in various other markets tuned in for the event.

Exterior: past meets future

Penned and developed by the design team in Japan, the Z Proto boasts a fresh, attractive exterior design with a silhouette that communicates respect for the original model. It sports a bright yellow pearlescent paint – a tribute to a popular paint scheme on both the first generation Z (S30) and the 300ZX (Z32) – and a black roof.

Combining a retro theme with one that also projected futurism was challenging, said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan.

"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 shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Z. The rectangular grille's dimensions are similar to the current model with the addition of oval grille fins to offer an updated modern look. The form continues to exude both sportiness and elegance.

"The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s," Albaisa explained. "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."

The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the Z Proto from the side. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture. The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect.
The rear takes inspiration from the 300ZX (Z32) taillights, reinterpreted for the modern world. Set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, the LED taillights convey a sharp glow.
Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance ensure nimble performance. 19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto's striking road presence.
Interior: modern tech with a vintage touch.
Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto's cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches.

The interior design team sought advice from professional motorsports legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track. This can be seen in the Z's instrumentation. All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the twelve o-clock position.
The new, deep dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic.
Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature special yellow accenting and a layered gradation stripe in the center of the seats to create depth.

Sports car joy: an exhilarating, dynamic performer
The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible.
"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."
Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.
"Z is a balance of power and agility," Tamura continued. "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."
Make no mistake though, the Z Proto packs a powerful punch. Under the elongated hood is an enhanced V-6 twin-turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As a prototype, work is now underway on synchronizing the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.
"With the launch this summer of the groundbreaking 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."

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secretariata (Forum Supporter)
secretariata (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/15/20 9:25 p.m.

But will the manual actually make it to "'Merica!"? Could be that dealers don't order any that way and tart them all up to top of the line models with tons of ADM so that no enthusiast actually would own one...

 

Edit:  Or maybe I'm just cynical in my old age...

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy SuperDork
9/15/20 9:27 p.m.

Looks fantastic!

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
9/15/20 10:48 p.m.

Looks good to me. Let's see how the real version stacks up when it actually comes out.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/16/20 6:32 a.m.

I like it more than the current 370 or past 350.  Or pretty much any Z model since the 240 - which is what they are obviously aiming for.

I am cautiously optimistic that cars like this - mainly a weekend car for most buyers - could start to see more manual transmissions. Why?  Well, for the same reason the GMA T-50 supercar has an H-pattern manual - because more buyers are are less concerned with all-out performance (that they can't really use anyway) and more about the driving experience. 

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
9/16/20 9:58 a.m.

If they can deliver it close (enough) to that prototype I'm am completely on board.  Thank god they're giving it a manual.  I'm sort of shocked Nissan of all companies is doing that when other manufacturers and left it off their dedicated sports car platforms (looking at you GM & Toyota).  With turbos on the engine I wonder if it'll be in the same price category as the 370 or knocking on GR Supra territory?

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
9/16/20 10:09 a.m.

Rooting for this car to be successful.

chandler
chandler PowerDork
9/16/20 10:15 a.m.

Hope it looks like that at production, and keeps the stick.

Red5
Red5 New Reader
9/16/20 10:18 a.m.

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
9/16/20 10:32 a.m.
dxman92 said:

Looks good to me. Let's see how the real version stacks up when it actually comes out.

I hope this does not happen.

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
9/16/20 10:42 a.m.
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

Since Nissan has a "Super car"  something along these lines would be nice.  Make it simple, give it power, make it handle.

A V6 Nissan version of a BRZ/FRS.  

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
9/16/20 11:36 a.m.
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

And it hurts sales.  Granted the timing was poor as well, but Mazda really shot themselves in the foot when the 3rd generation RX-7 was only available as a twin turbo.  So overall production was really low, which makes all the non-drivetrain parts expensive.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
9/16/20 12:04 p.m.

For some reason I like that a lot more than I do the regular 370 or the GTR. Maybe it is the 240Z-like rear aspect?  I like the front, the back but not the black top that makes it look like a Jaguar.

It would be interesting to know what the gears are - did they go for useful performance like BMW with 5th being direct and 6th a reasonable (i.e. a useful OD of around 0.8) or will they do the rather silly American thing of sticking in a ratio for 5th that is good only for bragging rights in fuel economy tests (usually around 0.6), but pretty useless for performance purposes?

 

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
9/16/20 12:14 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

And it hurts sales.  Granted the timing was poor as well, but Mazda really shot themselves in the foot when the 3rd generation RX-7 was only available as a twin turbo.  So overall production was really low, which makes all the non-drivetrain parts expensive.

I get wanting something simpler and more reliable for the track. I won't argue there.

The flip side of the sales argument is that they've already done the NA V6 thing and it's constantly derided as overpriced and underpowered compared to the stang & crammit V8s.  You can probably also blame the age of the 370 platform, but you're always going to have people shopping on hp/dollar ratio.  If your point(s) are to offer both then that would be cool, but also more expensive to launch and maintain for Nissan.  I guess I'd be surprised if they would go to the trouble.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/16/20 12:14 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

And it hurts sales.  Granted the timing was poor as well, but Mazda really shot themselves in the foot when the 3rd generation RX-7 was only available as a twin turbo.  So overall production was really low, which makes all the non-drivetrain parts expensive.

Maybe, but my WAG is having to run another powertrain through the Federalization process is why companies are leery of offering multiple engine options for low production models.

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
9/16/20 12:35 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

And it hurts sales.  Granted the timing was poor as well, but Mazda really shot themselves in the foot when the 3rd generation RX-7 was only available as a twin turbo.  So overall production was really low, which makes all the non-drivetrain parts expensive.

I never thought about the FD like that. Yeah that was a tragedy, a 200 hp naturally aspirated FD would have been amazing.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
9/16/20 12:50 p.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
Red5 said:

How about an 'entry-level' car with a NA V-6?  Turbo cars don't make very good club racers, too much heat.  

And it hurts sales.  Granted the timing was poor as well, but Mazda really shot themselves in the foot when the 3rd generation RX-7 was only available as a twin turbo.  So overall production was really low, which makes all the non-drivetrain parts expensive.

Maybe, but my WAG is having to run another powertrain through the Federalization process is why companies are leery of offering multiple engine options for low production models.

This is also true, and not just for certification.

 

All the same, imagine if the only SW2x MR2s that Toyota sold were turbo, at $70k a pop.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/16/20 5:20 p.m.

It's amusing to me how some are comparing the looks to the F-Type.  Well... consider the F-Type is something of a throw-back to the E-Type - which was more or less what Nissan was aiming for when they styled the original 240Z.  So it would seem natural that some 50 years later, the descendants would still share some of the same styling DNA.

Another amusing tid-bit I just read: When the 370Z hit Nissan showrooms, Chevy was still selling the C5 Corvette.

dettonator20
dettonator20 New Reader
9/16/20 11:26 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

I agree, I have always thought that the F-Type looked so good because it looked so much like a modern rendition of the 240Z. Even more styling queues if you look at the new Z from all angles, even a little bit of the new Mustang from the side profile. Here is the link to the whole video. Start at 4:40 to avoid the deadspace at the beginning.

https://www.thenissannext.com/en/z-proto.html

 

turtl631
turtl631 HalfDork
9/17/20 1:05 a.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

Another amusing tid-bit I just read: When the 370Z hit Nissan showrooms, Chevy was still selling the C5 Corvette.

370Z came out in 2009. That was well into the C6 run. 370Z is old, but not that old.  

Azryael
Azryael Reader
9/17/20 3:40 a.m.

I would take one of these in a heartbeat.

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/17/20 6:44 a.m.

I am hoping like crazy to see a near carbon copy of this on the roads of the USA soon!  Only change I'd advocate is to soften up the rectangular front grill somehow.  Other than that, spot on, Nissan !!!  Oh, and please keep the MT !!!!!!

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/17/20 6:45 a.m.
turtl631 said:
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

Another amusing tid-bit I just read: When the 370Z hit Nissan showrooms, Chevy was still selling the C5 Corvette.

370Z came out in 2009. That was well into the C6 run. 370Z is old, but not that old.  

I didn't back-check the article I read, but the timeline did seem off.

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