Nissan Z Proto pays homage to past, offers glimpse of storied Z car’s future
September 16, 2020
Nissan calls the upcoming product renewal “Nissan A to Z,” with the A standing for the all-new Ariya electric crossover and the Z, naturally, representing the redesigned sports coupe.
Nissan last redesigned the Z car with the 370Z in 2009, making the nameplate one of the oldest models in the brand’s lineup. Nissan is rumored to be christening the next sports coupe the 400Z, and it is expected to be powered by a high-output 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine similar to the one used in the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400.
It notes, however, that traditionally “each new generation had a more powerful engine.”
The Z car put Nissan on the fast track in the U.S. Armed with the Datsun 240Z, the Japanese upstart passed Volkswagen and Toyota to become the No. 1 import brand in 1975.
Today, only the GT-R sells fewer vehicles in the U.S. than the 370Z for the Nissan brand. In the first six months of 2020, 370Z sales rose 4.6 percent to 1,310. GT-R sales sank 26 percent to 128.
Over the years, Z cars gradually gained weight, much to the chagrin of Yataka Katayama, the legendary Nissan executive known as Mr. K, the father of the original Z. To Mr. K, who died in 2015, the Z grew bloated and expensive, forsaking its role as an attainable, everyman’s sports car.