Rumor Mill: Next Nissan Z Car to Go Retro?
While it still makes appearances at tuner events and car shows, the Nissan 370Z has roughly the same marketing heat as a pair of secondhand shoes. Last year, Nissan only moved 2,384 in the United States, with another 701 being sold in Europe — suggesting the decade-old (albeit fun) coupe may have outlived its usefulness years ago.
Its successor remains elusive, but persistent rumors claim Nissan is working on something to replace the venerable Z. Despite the manufacturer withholding any kind of confirmation, details leaked from dealer meetings suggest the brand is going with a heritage-inspired look, tapping vintage Z models for the design.
Whereas the general shape will remain similar to the 370Z, the front end is said to mimic the square mouth of the 240Z and come with nearly round headlamps. Meanwhile, the back half is supposed to adopt elements of the 300ZX.
According to Autoblog, unnamed sources who claim to have seen the prototype at dealer meetings say Nissan is “going back to the roots of the car” with its styling. Design elements from both the 300ZX (above) and 240Z (below) are said to be incorporated; however, spy shots of the vehicle believed to replace the current Z still show it wearing a modified 370Z body. That’s bad news for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the new sheetmetal, but it likely means Nissan is working on its powertrain.
From a powertrain perspective, we’re told that a version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 from the Infiniti Q50/Q60 400 Red Sport will be pulled for duty. That engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission only right now, but we’re told a manual transmission will be offered alongside the automatic. As a reminder, Nissan did pair the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with a manual in a 370Z SEMA show car previously, but it still hasn’t seen a production application.
As for a possible Nismo variant in the future, one of our sources also tells us it’s likely that we’ll see this version join the next-generation Z car eventually. Close to 500 horsepower is rumored for this specific flavor of Z.
Assuming the manufacturer sticks with the program, a new Z could manifest in a little over a year. Nissan Senior Vice President Ivan Espinosa even said to “expect something soon” back in October, adding that the car was already under development.
Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit principal automotive analyst, told Autoblog that a new Z was already well overdue. “It’s getting old,” she said. “I think that some direction in the next couple years would be good. I think it’ll get to the point that safety compliance issues will need to be addressed.”
She also noted the company’s need to restore its image, suggesting a standout performance model could be the ticket. But Nissan has bigger fish to fry. Due to financial hardships, the business has entered into a major restructuring program requiring the elimination of 12,500 jobs. It’s also has to address lapses in quality control, conflict with alliance partner Renault, blowback from the Carlos Ghosn scandal, and a global fleet that’s in desperate need of new product.
All things considered, a low-volume Z car probably isn’t exceptionally high on Nissan’s list of priorities. However, if done correctly, it could show the automaker in a positive light for once. That doesn’t guarantee the 400Z (or whatever they end up calling it) won’t get delayed or cancelled, but it does offer hope that it could be one of the 12 new products the company plans to introduce over the next two years. Here’s to hoping it arrives soon, and with some of the retro moxie we saw on the IDx concept inspired by the Datsun 510 to boot.
[Images: Nissan; MasaPhoto/Shutterstock; imwaltersy/Shutterstock]
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I'm sure all the current model needs is a black plastic piece added to the c-pillar to give everyone the floating roof design we all didn't know we needed.