Nissan Unveils First Z in 12 Years

Nissan seems to think now is the right time to reveal its prototype for the upcoming 400Z... but why?

Unfortunately for Nissan, it's most exciting moment in the past year was probably when its 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, who has 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 V-6.

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.”

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