By on March 14, 2018

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]

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13 Comments on “Will Dr. Z Help Build a New Z? Nissan/Mercedes-Benz Rumor Points To a New Nissan Sports Car...”


  • avatar
    tkewley

    It’s well documented that the sports car market in the US collapsed post-’08 recession, and hasn’t really come back. In a world where even the Miata and Corvette aren’t selling well, it seems unlikely that Nissan will spend development resources on a new Z.

    • 0 avatar
      tallguy130

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yep!

      Nissan does have some tools in its shed that could give the Z a little sales bump for minimal cost/effort though:

      – Exterior/interior refresh
      – New 3.0TT
      – Much needed infotainment update (Apple Carplay/Google Auto are a must)
      – Much needed auto transmission update (ditch JATCO and get the ZF8 please)

      Problem is all that sounds like a $40-50K car when it’s all said and done… for all that trouble, might as well get a Q50/Q60. Calling on the heritage of the original Z without sticking to the affordable pricing that made it a hit is no good. Truthfully the current Z is probably exactly the kind of Z that makes sense for Nissan to build.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Makes me wonder why they bothered with the Q60 then. Yank out 2 seats, make a few cosmetic changes, and put in some cheaper materials, and there’s your new Z.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    When the communications director, completely devoid of passion, cites “corporate policy” and “product plans” for the Z, you can safely assume there will not be another one. Even if there was, I wouldn’t want it. Bedore killed it’s mystique, which was long lost anyway. It is nothing more than a nameplate. At least Mazda knows how to talk about it’s cars.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Sounds like you could be romanced into a proper turd….

      • 0 avatar
        Stanley Steamer

        There is no practical reason to own a car like this (I know, I had a 300zx turbo), so “romance” is a big part of the sale. You could also use words like nostalgia, tradition, heritage, lineage, etc. You might say this is a car for driving enthusiasm, but there are better cars at better prices for that.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    The drawing at the top reminds me of a Delahaye. Big body that makes the cabin look tiny. But then I love the looks of the Delahaye, this? not so much.

  • avatar
    carnick

    Penny-pinching Carlos Ghosn probably won’t spring for the cash needed for a new Z car because of the previously mentioned contracting market segment. It’s too bad. I’m old-school, I grew up lusting after the original 240Z and owned a couple back in the day. I’d love to have one.

    Even if Nissan does a new Z, their cheapskatedness will probably ruin it with some turbo-4 abomination of an engine from Mercedes (like the base engine in the Infiniti Q60), or hamstring it with no manual transmission. Then it won’t sell, and they’ll wonder why, and point to their own fiasco as ‘proof’ of there being no market for sports cars.

    I know the current 370Z isn’t selling well, but from my own personal experiences, part of the problem are the dealers. I’ve been trying to buy a new 370Z for the past 6 months, but haven’t been able to yet because of sleazy dealers. I’ve been buying cars for over 40 years, of almost all brands, and have never run into such an untrustworthy and slimy bunch as the Nissan dealers I’ve talked with. Every one has pulled bait-and-switch pricing games on me. I’m a cash buyer, and can’t find an ethical Nissan dealer to give it to.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

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

  • avatar
    JMII

    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.


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