Nissan is getting ready to reveal a new Z.
Previewed by the Z Proto, the production Z coupe will be revealed on August 17 – what would have been the New York motor show, had COVID-19 not scuppered the event again.
Here’s what to expect from the reborn Z when it’s revealed.
Nissan has confirmed almost nothing will change with the exterior when the Proto becomes a production reality.
“The selection of the name Proto is quite deliberate. We didn’t call it a concept car because it’s not really a concept car,” he said.
“This is a car that we’ve been developing with our engineers, the chassis, the structure. This is a real car, it’s just not finished.”
The design is a careful blend of retro and modern cues packaged up in a clean, classic coupe silhouette.
“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” said Mr Albaisa.
“Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”
The bonnet and LED headlights are a clear nod to the Datsun 240Z, while the rear borrows heavily from the 300ZX with a clean horizontal light signature.
Nissan has finished the Z Proto with a black roof, calling both the 240Z and 300ZX to mind.
There’s a badge on the c-pillar, and a retro Fairlady Z badge on the boot lid to complete the effect.
Subsequent leaked images from the factory floor revealed a subtle lip spoiler, and that the Fairlady Z badge has been removed.
Power comes from a turbocharged V6 engine, and it’s sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
Power outputs haven’t been confirmed yet, but the engine is believed to be a variation of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, where it makes 298kW and 475Nm.
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 biggest rival for the Z is likely to be the Toyota Supra.
With 285kW and 500Nm from its BMW inline-six engine, there isn’t much to split them on paper, except for the fact the Supra is not available with a manual in Australia.
Along with the manual transmission, the production 400Z is expected to pack a locking rear differential to help better put down the twin-turbo engine’s punch.
“Z is a balance of power and agility,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist for the Z Proto.
“It is a vehicle that creates a connection to the driver not just on the physical level, but emotionally, and responds to the driver’s impulses.”
The driver is faced with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the infotainment touchscreen, climate controls, and dashboard design borrow plenty from the latest X-Trail SUV.
Of course, there’s also three analogue dials atop the dash.
Using the X-Trail as a guide, expect the Z to feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with factory satellite navigation and more modern, snappy graphics than the current Nissan touchscreen system.
As is now common, it’s likely the Z will feature some sort of performance pages on its infotainment system to track power, torque, and all the other data keen drivers want to know.
As for rear seats? Best leave the kids at home, this is a two-seater.
Measuring up at 4382mm long, 1850mm wide, and 1310mm tall, the Z Proto is 50mm longer and 20mm narrower than the 370Z Nismo.
Inside, the transmission tunnel looks identical, with the same handbrake placement and cupholder, and there are strong similarities in the door trims as well.
Nissan was tight-lipped about what the two cars have in common at launch, batting away questions about what’s new and what’s shared.
We’ll likely know more when the Z is properly unveiled next week.
“We’re seeing as soon as we come out globally with news on Z Proto and Z in general, there’s a lot of anticipation being fed through our dealers, through car clubs, and other enthusiast avenues,” ex-Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester has previously told CarExpert.
“You can see it on message boards, club hangouts in the digital realm, even enquiries to our call centre.
“I think for a market like Australia where performance vehicles play oh so well, that a car with the heritage that Z has is going to be an absolute rocket when it gets out here.”