Will Dr. Z Help Build a New Z? Nissan/Mercedes-Benz Rumor Points To a New Nissan Sports Car

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

The Nissan Z-car has died once before — in 1996, only to return in 2003 as the 350Z. It’s been suggested that the Z will go the way of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and become yet another crossover. But a rumor out of Japan links Nissan with Mercedes-Benz for a new Z, possibly in time for the model’s 50th Anniversary in 2019/2020.

The Japanese site response.jp (thanks, Google Translate) has posted a rendering of the potential new sports car, showing the company’s corporate V-motion grille lined with LED strips, and a long hood that harkens back to the traditional proportions of the original 240Z.

Any news of the Z returning as a proper sports car instead of a crossover that trades heritage for blandness ( Eclipse Cross, Ford Mach 1) is welcome news indeed.

Curiously, the render uses the C-pillar kink typically found on Nissan’s Infiniti brand. I struggle to imagine this making it to production. So does Ben Hsu of Japanese Nostalgic Car, who notes that it would be “..incredibly odd for the Z to have what is a uniquely Infiniti design cue.”

Whether Nissan cares to completely redesign a vehicle that moved only 4,614 units last year is yet to be determined. Nissan’s Chief Planning Officer, Philipe Klein, noted in January that “there is a lot of passion people [have for] this vehicle, but [the Z] is in a segment that is gradually declining, so that is making the [business] case more difficult.”

When reached for comment, Dan Bedore, director of Nissan’s North American communications, responded, “The Nissan Z is an iconic nameplate. We appreciate the excitement and interest in its future among Z fans and other automotive enthusiasts. We have not announced any plans beyond the 2018 model year Nissan 370Z and, as a matter of policy, do not engage in speculation about future product plans.”

However, response.jp notes that Nissan executives have watched the partnership between Toyota and BMW blossom into the new Supra concept with envy. The existing partnership between Nissan and Mercedes-Benz could yield similar results from another Japanese/German tieup.

Possible powerplants for the new Z include Mercedes-Benz’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo found in the QX30 and Q50, as well as the 400 hp twin-turbo V6 found in the Q60 Red Sport. That long hood, however, hints at another option — the inline six found in the new Mercedes-AMG 53 models (and possibly in a new Aston Martin).

After all, the original 240Z used an inline-six, the L24 — itself a development of a Mercedes-Benz design licensed by Prince Motors for the original Skyline.

[Images: response.jp , Corey Lewis/TTAC, Chris Tonn]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Onyxtape Onyxtape on Mar 14, 2018

    Just rebadge an Infiniti Eau Rouge and call it a day.

  • JMII JMII on Mar 15, 2018

    I'm not holding my breath for the next Z. As mentioned Nissan has all the parts it needs via the Infiniti Q60... well except the transmission since it only has the auto. However the Q60 is too heavy and too expensive so unless it goes on a massive diet and gets cheaper Nissan shouldn't even bother. The sales numbers just don't support making a unique Z and the competition (Pony cars) have won the $ per HP race.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.