In photos obtained by japanesenstalgiccar.com, the Nissan 400Z prototype is seen with its hood propped open, and there it is, a 400 horsepower, twin-IHI turbocharged, VR30DDTT V6 engine. First available in the Infiniti Q50 sedan, a year later in 2016 it was also in the Q60 coupe in 300 and 400 HP versions.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve gotten excited about the prospect of a new vehicle only to learn it’s going to limited to some lousy country where they don’t even bother to drive on the correct side of the street, have funny-sounding police sirens and/or happen to be involved in some other roadway debacle — like using the metric system on signs, just because it’s easier.
Meanwhile, nobody even seems to notice when we export our best automotive wares. Sure Europeans enjoy the Corvette’s mind-blowing performance and ability to absolutely devour highway miles at an unbeatable price (ignore the Euro-spec C8). But it probably lacks panache or the appropriate level of refinement (whatever the hell they’re looking for) and doesn’t accessorize with the sport coat and bare ankle look they seem so sprung on. Have you ever seen a Corvette in Europe? Of course, you haven’t. They almost never cracked 1,000 deliveries per year because the entire continent hates V8 engines.
Don’t fact check me on that last one because it’s irrelevant to the purposes of this article about petty revenge. All you need to know is that I was just informed that Nissan’s upcoming 400Z (name pending) won’t be available in Europe.
Considering the dire straits Nissan currently finds itself in, I don’t think anybody felt ultra-confident that its next Z-badged performance coupe was automatically going to be a home run. I certainly did not. But then I watched Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida climb out of the prototype as he reminisced about how his first car was a Fairlady Z, noting that it was a “love at first sight” kind of deal.
It was fitting, not just because the Proto Z that debuted on Tuesday is clearly inspired by that iconic model but also because he just unveiled a car that will probably leave a lot of other young drivers feeling the exact same way.
Nissan spent a lot of time parading around Z models ahead of the debut, suggesting that the prototype would be influenced by them all. But it has become clear that the earliest models are the ones doing the heavy lifting. While the squared tail lamps floating on a black canvas covers everything up to the 300ZX, the Proto Z’s overall shape is commensurate with the original 240Z. It also happens to be quite handsome and uncluttered by a lot of the busyness found on modern-day sporting cars.
Nissan has issued another teaser for the impending 400Z with clear intent to alleviate any confusion created by the previous marketing materials. We said it looked like the company planned on offering the sports coupe with a manual transmission and are required to revise our claim. It’s now blatantly obvious that Nissan is planning on producing be-clutched examples. We can only assume that Nissan’s marketing department noticed that everyone had started to catch onto the possibility of there being a manual option in its last posting and simply decided to remove all doubt.
One can even imagine the video conference where management tells the person editing the clips to throw in a bare shot of the gear selector this time. Nissan knows few customers will actually buy one but that the automotive press can’t help but mention the last of a dying breed. Some of us wake up in a cold sweat nightly, haunted by the knowledge that carefully using two appendages to change gears isn’t something future generations are going to put up with.
Nissan has been extremely clear that it has been focusing heavily upon its past for the formation of its upcoming 400Z. Considering how the automaker is faring in the present, casually throwing customers into a sea of nostalgia is likely a 200-IQ play. Vintage Z cars have an obsessively loyal fan base and are awarded rolling praise from practically everybody who remembers them in their heyday.
Your author has always held a soft spot for the 300ZX Twin Turbo, despite his not being the resident Nissan aficionado and the 300 being the most pig-like in the Z-car’s expansive lineage. But plenty of people recall its enthralling performance as turbo lag boost was playfully teased out to make pressing the accelerator feel less like you were about to pass a slow-moving motorist on the highway and more like you were about to launch a Grumman F-14 Tomcat off an aircraft carrier. They also undoubtedly remember its stellar design, especially the Z32, which present-day Nissan has decided to tap into for the upcoming performance model.
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.
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.