Nissan has taken the wraps off a new Z car prototype.

The GT-R is one thing, but the Z series of sports cars puts high performance motoring within the reach of mortals.

Shown at a virtual event beamed around the world, the prototype features a new design inside and out, as well as a V-6 twin turbocharged engine with manual transmission.

“The Z, as a pure sports car, represents the spirit of Nissan,” Nissan CEO, Makoto Uchida said.

“It’s a key model in our Nissan NEXT transformation plan, and it’s proof of our ability to do what others don’t dare to do, from A to Z.

“As a Z fan myself, I’m excited to announce that the next Z is coming.”

The Z Proto boasts a fresh, attractive exterior design with a silhouette that Nissan says communicates respect for the original model.

It sports a bright yellow pearlescent paint, a tribute to the first generation Z and 300ZX, along with a black roof.

The Z Proto packs a punch too.

Under the elongated bonnet is an enhanced V-6 twin-turbocharged engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

As a prototype, work is now underway on synchronizing the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.

Nissan is however careful to point out the Z Proto is a development study vehicle and does not confirm or reflect production model specifications.

 

Combining a retro theme with one that also projects futurism was challenging, Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso Albaisa, said.

“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success.

“Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”

The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are unmistakable reminders of the original Z.

The rectangular grille’s dimensions are similar to the current model with the addition of oval grille fins to offer an updated modern look.

The form continues to exude both sportiness and elegance.

“The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s,” Albaisa said.

“The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z’s identity.”

The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the Z Proto from the side.

The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture.

The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect.

The rear takes inspiration from the 300ZX tail lights, reinterpreted for the modern world.

Set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, the LED taillights convey a sharp glow.

Lightweight carbon fibre treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance ensure nimble performance. 19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto’s striking road presence.

Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto’s cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches.

The interior design team sought advice from professional motorsports legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track.

This can be seen in the Z’s instrumentation.

All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the 12 o’clock position.

The new, deep dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic.

Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel.

The seats feature special yellow accenting and a layered gradation stripe in the centre of the seats to create depth.

The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible.

“The Z has always been a strong dynamic performer, making it easy for customers to enjoy its capabilities and feel as connected as possible to the car,” chief product specialist of the Z Proto, Hiroshi Tamura, said.

“This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm.”

Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.

“Z is a balance of power and agility. It is a vehicle that creates a connection with the driver not just on the physical level, but emotionally, and responds to the driver’s impulses.”

Z Proto specifications

Engine

V-6 twin turbo

Transmission

6-speed manual

Length

4382mm

Width

1850mm

Height

1310mm

Wheel and tyre size

Front: 255/40R19 Rear: 285/35R19

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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