Electric crossovers are all the rage, but they might not get blood pumping the way a rear-drive sports car can. Especially one with a heritage like Nissan’s Z.
The subject of much rumor and speculation, the successor to today’s remarkably aged 370Z was already known to be in the works, carefully pored over by a team of fastidious Japanese engineers eager to do the model’s lineage proud. Expected to carry the name 400Z, a prototype is headed our way in just a short time.
Everybody knows Nissan’s 370Z has overstayed its welcome. With over a decade of service beneath her belt, the old girl has done her part and now cries out desperately for retirement.
It’s not the car’s fault; Nissan simply hasn’t had anything to replace it with. As such, it’s had to keep sending the tired veteran back to the front. While a successor has been rumored to be in development for ages, little hard evidence turned up to prove its existence.
Meanwhile, the current Z continues to bleed sales. Nissan only managed to move 2,384 examples inside the United States last year — down from a similarly modest 3,468 in 2018. This year won’t be any better for the model, though we now finally have confirmation that Nissan is making moves on the next Z car — and it seems to support rumors that it will adhere to a retro-inspired look. Nissan has filed a trademark patent with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the Z logo looks quite a bit like it did when we were still calling the marque Datsun.
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.
Betcha forgot about this one. That’s okay – most people have. Thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like design cycle, the 2020 Z isn’t significantly different than when it first appeared in the late Jurassic period for the 2009 model year.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of our attention in this series, though, especially since it is one of the few remaining cars in today’s market that still offers a manual transmission, let alone two doors and a fast roofline. In fact, that steep chop aft of the windshield puts your author in mind of Godzilla, which is not bad company to keep.
Almost exactly a decade after the 370Z went on sale in North America, Nissan has confirmed that the convertible version of the aging sports coupe will disappear from the company’s lineup after the 2019 model year.
News of the discontinuation comes as anticipation builds (it’s had a long time to build) for a next-generation Z car — a yet-unseen vehicle at the center of years of rumors.
Fifty years ago, Datsun showed New York that Japan was perfectly capable of producing a sporting automobile that offered everything drivers wanted, without breaking the bank. It may not have been cutting edge, but the 240Z was a GT car well worth coveting. Somewhere between the nimble, although sometimes underpowered, European roadsters and clumsy but savage American muscle cars, Datsun’s Z provided a well-balanced package for enthusiasts and racing teams alike.
This week, Nissan’s paying tribute to the vehicle that launched the Z line with the 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition. Painted to resemble the No. 46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) 240Z that helped John Morton win back-to-back SCCA National Championships in the 1970s, the Anniversary Edition is the upside of living in the past.
I’m old — I just turned forty. The Z is also old. It will be fifty in about a year. Thus, the Heritage Edition 2019 Nissan 370Z tested here isn’t a misnomer — there is plenty of heritage in the various generations of the first Japanese sports car to make a serious impact in the American market.
As far as I know, there is no Heritage Edition Chris available.
But is the latest 370Z still relevant in a market increasingly edging away from sports cars? Or does heritage simply mean washed up?
Less than a year away from its 10th birthday, Nissan’s 370Z is getting a modest refresh in the hopes of maintaining some kind of relevance. Despite being the better car, the present model failed to outsell the 350Z in the United States in all but its introductory year, and annual deliveries have continue to tumble ever since. Nissan only managed to move 4,614 examples in 2017, which is less than half the volume seen in 2010.
The Z car represents the last gasp of Japanese muscle and it’s been gradually wheezing its way out of prominence. Most of the famous alphanumeric nameplates from the island nation were buried over a decade ago. But the Nissan lived on, almost as if it was saving a seat for the Toyota Supra’s return.
Taking all of this with a huge grain of salt, as future plans at many manufacturers are often more fluid than the salty Atlantic Ocean, reports are surfacing of Nissan forging ahead with a new Z. And it’s not a crossover.
According to the UK outlet Autocar, Nissan will display a concept Z at this year’s Tokyo show in October*, with a production version showing up a year later in L.A.
As we told you on Sunday, Nissan’s chief planning officer, Philippe Klein, desperately wants to hold on to the sporty heritage of the Z name, but doesn’t know how it can fit into the brand’s future lineup. The horizon’s hazy for this athletic occupant of the Nissan stable.
Besides a refresh for the 2013 model year, the existing 370Z is an ancient thing, having first appeared on North American shores in early 2009. The elimination of the manual transmission in 2018 Roadster models doesn’t help its performance image, though segment rivals can take most of the blame for the model’s declining fortunes.
We’re now hearing more information on something Klein alluded to. There’s more Z to come, but it will apparently be more of the same, not some altogether new creation.
Nissan’s 370Z is just shy of its tenth birthday and has really begun to show its age. While it remains a relative bargain if you’re seeking an imported rear-drive sports car, it loses that advantage if you’re willing to consider its domestic rivals. It’s a solid performance package by most metrics. But it’s capable in the same way a retired olympic athlete might be. It’ll still destroy your chubby neighbor in a foot race but not his teenage son, who just happens to be captain of his high school track team.
The company needs a replacement. However, back in October, Nissan’s chief planning officer Philippe Klein was extremely noncommittal when it came to naming the 370Z’s successor. “It’s an interesting question because there is a lot of passion people [have for] this vehicle,” Klein said at the Tokyo Motor Show. “This vehicle is still very alive but at the same time it is in a segment that is gradually declining, so that is making the [business] case more difficult.”
So that’s it. The Z is dead. Case closed… or is it? Apparently, Nissan hasn’t given up on the Z after all.
Z is the last letter in the alphabet, and the current Nissan Z might be the last one in the company lineup.
At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Philippe Klein, Chief Planning Officer for Nissan, was decidedly non-committal when asked by media in attendance about the Z car’s future. This is stance is not new but, this time, the exec’s answer came with a few more details.
There’s not much new in the 2018 Nissan 370Z, nor was there much new last year, and the year before that. In fact, this model has been around since Shane was still alive on The Walking Dead.
Like last year, an equivalently priced Mustang or Camaro will be arguably more modern with better technology, especially with the 2018 changes to those models. But, as long-time readers may know, I feel that either of those cars equipped sans V8 is more pointless than ordering a Diet Coke to accompany one’s double Big Mac and supersized fries.
There’s not much new in the 2017 Nissan 370Z, and it has largely been that way since Nissan introduced it way back in, uh, wow, 2009.
Sure, an equivalently priced Mustang or Camaro is arguably more modern with better technology, but you’ll never find one of those models in this series. Why? Because, in your author’s humble opinion, buying either of those cars with the base engine is as pointless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.
The Z, though? That’s a different story.
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