If you loved last year’s Nissan Z Proto, we have some good news: the production version looks to be almost identical.
Patent images obtained via IP Australia show the next-generation Z-Car has made the transition from prototype to production unchanged, but for the addition of important details like parking sensors, a sensor within the grille, side reflectors and key holes.
The filings don’t reveal the production wheel design but we expect the Z Proto’s wheels to also be unchanged.
Likewise, the images omit all badging as well as the rear-view mirrors and the finer details of the lighting, though again we don’t expect any meaningful changes considering how production-ready the Z Proto was.
That there are no surprises with the production version is no surprise, with Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa saying at the Z Proto’s reveal that he “won’t touch it anymore” and that he’d passed the baton on to engineers who would only change “very small things”.
It could be late in 2022 before the production Nissan Z goes on sale, and we expect it to wear the 400Z nameplate.
Nissan hasn’t officially confirmed a launch date, but pointed to the Nissan GT-R Proto that preceded the R35 GT-R for inspiration.
“The Proto is just a finished, feasible study,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist for the Nissan Z and GT-R product lines.
“If I can give another extra hint, you have to check about GT-R Proto, then GT-R releasing point,” Tamura-san told media.
The GT-R Proto was revealed at the 2005 Tokyo motor show, and closely previewed the production R35 GT-R that followed in December 2007.
Power for the Z Proto comes from a turbocharged V6 engine, and it’s sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
A seven-speed automatic is expected to be optional, while a locking rear differential is also likely and will help the 400Z put power to the ground.
Outputs haven’t been confirmed yet, but the engine is believed to be a variation of the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, where it makes 298kW of power and 475Nm of torque.
That’s a big step up from the current 370Z’s naturally-aspirated 3.7-litre V6, which produces 253kW of power and 371Nm of torque.
The Z Proto is similarly-sized to the outgoing 370Z, however. It measures 4382mm long, 1850mm wide, and 1310mm tall, or 50mm longer and 20mm narrower than the 370Z Nismo.
The 400Z is believed to be on an updated version of the 370Z’s platform, though this hasn’t officially been confirmed.
Inside the Z Proto’s cabin, which is decidedly production-ready in appearance, there’s a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster plus an infotainment touchscreen, climate controls, and an overall dashboard design that borrows plenty from the latest X-Trail SUV. There are also the expected three analogue dials atop the dash.
We don’t know for sure what the production interior will look like, but don’t put any money on it looking much different.
The biggest rival for the 400Z will be the Toyota Supra. With 285kW and 500Nm from its turbocharged BMW inline-six engine, there isn’t much to split them on paper, except for the fact the Supra isn’t available with a manual in Australia.