The Nissan 370Z was introduced over a decade ago and it’s well past its prime.
While sales have tapered off to a trickle, the company isn’t ready to give up on the iconic Z car. Instead, they’re previewing the next-generation model with the retro-inspired Z Proto.
Billed as a “thoroughly modern sports car” that pays respect to 50 years of Z heritage, the Z Proto sports a bright yellow pearlescent exterior which recalls the one used on the original sports car. The paint job isn’t the only retro touch as the hood mirrors the original, while teardrop-shaped LED headlights recall the JDM 240ZG of the 1970’s.
While the rectangular grille is reminiscent of the outgoing model, designers added fins which are a nod to the past. Likewise, the roofline and greenhouse recall those used on classic Z cars.
The rear end is a bit more modern as it draws inspiration from the 300ZX and features distinctive taillights which have been “reinterpreted for the modern world.” They’re framed by black surround and Nissan says this gives the lights a “sharp glow.”
Elsewhere, designers installed 19-inch alloy wheels and a dual exhaust system. There are also a number of carbon fiber components including the front splitter, rear valance and side skirts.
According to Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso Albaisa, “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.”
In terms of size, the Z Proto measures 172.5 inches (4382 mm) long, 72.8 inches (1,849 mm) wide and 51.6 inches (1,311 mm) tall. This makes the model 5 inches longer, 0.2 inches (5 mm) wider and 0.2 inches (5 mm) shorter than the 370Z.
While the exterior has a retro vibe, the cabin is thoroughly modern as it features a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a modern infotainment system. Drivers will also find a “deep dish” steering wheel, yellow accents and familiar gauge pods.
The company didn’t go into too many details, but said they “sought advice from professional motorsports legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track.” As part of this effort, the team made key controls and information readily accessible to drivers.
The company also confirmed the car is powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine which is connected to a six-speed manual transmission. Nissan wasn’t ready to talk numbers, but pointed out each new Z has had more power than its predecessor.
The engine is expected to be borrowed from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 and this means we can expect an output of approximately 400 hp (298 kW / 406 PS) and 350 lb-ft (474 Nm) of torque. This would be a significant jump as the current 370Z has a 3.7-liter V6 with 332 hp (248 kW / 337 PS) and 270 lb-ft (366 Nm) of torque.
Nissan is staying light-lipped about specifics, but Z Proto chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura said the “Z is more than just powerful and agile. It is designed to create a connection with the driver, for the car to be a ‘dance partner’ for their on-road adventures.”
The company didn’t say when the production model will arrive, but noted the “Z Proto is one of 10 new vehicles that Nissan is showing for the U.S. in 20 months, along with top-sellers like Sentra and Rogue, and innovative new models like the all-electric Ariya crossover.”