Unfortunately for Nissan, its most exciting moment in the past year was probably when embattled ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn escaped Japanese house arrest and was smuggled to Lebanon in a musical instrument case. I mean … you truly don’t see that every day.
But Nissan, which had a rough time navigating Ghosn’s departure amid cratering sales, is determined to change the narrative, which might be why the automaker recently unveiled an exciting new prototype for a fan-favorite model: the Z sports car.
Nissan hasn’t released a new iteration of the Z since 2008 but seems to have determined that now is the right time to reveal its prototype for the upcoming 400Z, a six-speed manual with a 3.0 Liter V6.
And while Nissan is calling it a prototype, it’s actually set to hit the market in 2021, meaning what you see now is probably pretty close to the production specs. Car and Driver likens the new Z to the “elegant” proportions of a Jaguar or Aston Martin. They also point to a fully modernized cockpit with a redesigned steering column and infotainment.
But Motor1 takes issue with suggestions that Nissan has been spending more than a decade working on a scratch new Z, pointing out the familiar architecture and a power plant that’s already in use in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60. Nissan’s design head even acknowledges how the design evokes legacy Z models, calling it “an homage.”
So why is now the right time? Car and Driver says the Nissan Z could be attempting a renewed rivalry with the Toyota Supra, its 1990s foe which now offers an automatic-only version. Automotive News was less generous in its assessment, suggesting the new Z is simply Nissan’s “attempt to generate buzz for a damaged brand.”