At long last, it’s here - the Nissan Z Proto. It was five years ago that news first emerged of a supposedly crossover-based replacement for the 370Z, and a couple of years on from that, the rumour mill suggested it would - thankfully - be a sports car instead. Reports, spy shots and teasers have been blipping away in the background ever since, but all that ends now.
Yes, this is a concept, but nothing stands out as being unfit for the showroom. Other than those gaudy tyre markings, perhaps. Importantly, Nissan has already confirmed a production version (expected to be called ‘400Z‘), but there’s a catch - the Japanese company says the sports car won’t be sold in Europe. Boo and indeed hiss.
We’re missing out on a car that’s slightly longer, wider and lower than the 370Z, with a similar silhouette to the car it replaces. The whole Z back-catalogue seems to have been referenced, though, with 300ZX-esque light bars forming the rear clusters, daytime running lights that are a nod to the 240Z, and even classic ‘Fairlady Z’ script.
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It’s not all throwback stuff - the overall design looks quite unlike any other Z car, with the front end dominated by a huge rectangular grille. To the side are some odd little kinks that look like they were originally supposed to be vents.
Nissan hasn’t been forthcoming with the mechanical side of things, merely noting it has an “enhanced” twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox. We’re fairly sure this V6 is the VR30DDTT, which is also used in the Infiniti Q50 (called the Nissan Skyline in Japan) and the Q60. The power output should be around 400bhp, giving it the necessary poke to go toe-to-toe with the Toyota GR Supra.
The interior is a world away from the dated, plasticky cabin of the 370Z, featuring a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, a digital instrument cluster, and some smart contrast stitching on a leather-clad dashboard. It’s not all about fancy tech, though, with a trio of analogue gauges - showing turbo boost pressure, turbo speed and battery voltage - just to the side of the driver’s line of sight.
As for why it won’t be coming to Europe in production form, Nissan had the following to say:
“A shrinking European sports car market and specific regulations on emissions mean that Nissan was unable to build a viable business case for the introduction of the production version of the next-generation Z-car in Europe. In Europe, Nissan’s priorities remain its commitment to renew its crossover line-up and accelerate its range electrification strategy.”
Still, at least for us Brits there’ll be the option of importing a right-hand drive JDM spec 400Z.