2022 Nissan Z debuts as a concept
Nissan unveiled the Z Proto concept today, as the Japanese carmaker finally prepares to launch a replacement for the 370Z sports car. Shown at a virtual event hosted at the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, the prototype car features a new retro-themed design inside and out, as well as a V6 twin-turbocharged engine with a manual transmission.
First hinted at in a Nissan promo video back in May, we actually saw a full-sized clay mock-up of this car last year at Nissan’s design centre in Japan. According to Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, it is a key model in their “Nissan NEXT transformation plan” which will include redesigned versions of most of their SUVs.
Penned and developed by the design team in Japan, the rear-wheel-drive Z Proto has a silhouette reminiscent of the original 240Z. It sports a bright yellow pearlescent paint as a tribute to the popular paint scheme on both the first generation Z (S30) and the 300ZX (Z32), aside from the black roof.
Combining a retro theme with one that also projected futurism was challenging, said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan. “Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” Albaisa said. “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 both inspired by the original Z. The rectangular grille’s dimensions are similar to the current model with the addition of oval grille fins. The rear takes inspiration from the 300ZX (Z32) taillights, with LEDs set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges.
Lightweight carbon fibre treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance, 19-inch alloy wheels (with 255/40 front and 285/35 rear tyres) and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto’s striking styling that will make recent Toyota Supra buyers weep.
The interior design team apparently sought advice from “professional motorsports legends” to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, albeit a bit old-fashioned in the name of retro. All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital metre display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the twelve o-clock position.
The announced “V6 twin turbo” engine seems to be taken from the Infiniti Q50, which we are guessing will offer between 300 and 400 hp in various trim levels, and mated to a 6-speed manual, but most likely an automatic will be offered as well. That could mean it will compete with everything from the Toyota 86 to the Toyota Supra with just one model at a range of price points, like Ford does with the Mustang — or at least that’s how we would do it.
Expect a production model to show up in UAE and GCC showrooms sometime by the end of next year if we’re lucky.