The prototype appears to be a truncated version of the Z35-generation production model from at least one design point of view for the next 18 months to two years.
Nissan provided sparse information, so let’s start with what we know. The Z Proto combines styling elements from previous Zs with an eye toward the future.
“Our designers created countless studies and drawings and made them a success,” said Alphonso Alabasa, Nissan’s head of design, adding, “Ultimately, we decided that the Z Proto should travel between decades, including the future. ”
The first-generation car, the 240Z, inspired the shape of the hood, retracted long-hood, short-deck profile with cannedrop LED headlights, and cabin. The current model’s rectangular grille sits at the front, and can be seen in the 1990s Z32 300ZX taillights and rear end sizes, especially above the rear diffuser. The pearl yellow color 240Z and Z32 300ZX is a tribute to a popular color on both generations.
But Z is also modern. Carbon-fiber trim is used for side skirts, front lower lips and rear valance to reduce weight and fit modern aesthetics.
The Proto Z is 4.7 inches longer than the current car, and is likely to last longer. It is also slightly longer and wider. It rides on 19-inch wheels, while the current model has 20s. Chief Engineer Hiroshi Tamura said the 19s give the car enough tires for proper ride quality.
Under the long hood is a twin-turbocharged V-6 hook with a 6-speed manual transmission in a rear-wheel-drive layout.
Inside, the Z Proto features a special distended steering wheel that sits in front of a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a 7,000-rpm redline in the middle tac and 12O clockwise. A photo shared by Nissan shows the rise and temperature of the water and oil in the cluster, although analog versions of those gauges are also at the top of the dashboard.
The Z Proto’s black upholstery features yellow contrast stitching on the seats, instrument panel hood, dashboard and door panel to play with the exterior paint. The seats appear to be raised upward, combining leather and synthetic suede with yellow straps. A center screen on the dash, likely to have an 8.0-inch touchscreen, provides information.
What we do not know starts with the engine. Nissan has not confirmed how much power it will manufacture or what its size will be. The Infiniti has a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 400 horsepower. There is a possibility of setup for the next Z. In fact, we expect the car to be called the 400Z.
We do not even know what changes will be made to the structure and suspension, although we do not doubt many. Nissan only shared that “work has been underway for the past several years to synchronize power with the grace and control that defined the Z.” It appears that the next Z will use the same platform as the current car and Tamura said it will drive like a dance partner. Switching to 19-inch wheels can reduce unscheduled weight, which improves handling. Tamura told us last year that the next-gen Z might not be too light, but its suspension should help keep it running like it is.
Furthermore, we do not know what year the next Z car model will be, its trim levels, standard and optional equipment, available safety features and pricing. Will the new Z introduce a high-performance Nismo model? Will it conform to the current model’s roughly $ 32,000- $ 48,000 pricing structure? When will it come on the market?
We will learn more about these and other questions as Nissan prepares the next generation production Z, perhaps as late as 2021 as the 2022 model.