7th Generation Z Car Announced — Nissan Z Proto

2022 Nissan 400Z revealed in prototype form

Nissan Motor Corp on Wednesday unveiled the Z Proto, signaling the company's intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports vehicle. The most dedicated Z owners and enthusiasts watched it unfold from the comfort of their cars on big screens set up at the 33rd annual global Z Convention (ZCON) in Franklin, Tennessee. Nissan has moved in a retro direction with the latest Z design, celebrating 50 years of Z by folding in inspiration from past models, including the one that started it all: the 1970 Fairlady Z/Datsun 240Z. At the same time, the company claims, it's a thoroughly modern sports vehicle.

It will be a pure sports auto with no form of electrification, so powertrain advances Nissan has made with the Infiniti Q60 Project Black S will likely not see the light of day, at least not for the Z. Much remains to be known about the latest Z auto, and the price is perhaps the one detail that has fans biting their nails.

Further cementing the idea that the Proto is pretty close to the real deal is the level of detail already provided by Nissan about the interior.

"The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with almost 1.35 million total sales over the model's 50-year history", said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales.

Good things come to those who wait, if you believe what Guinness and Nissan tell you.

Design of the Nissan Z Proto pays respect to Z models that span over half a century while also being thoroughly modern. Hopefully Nissan massages that away in the production variant because it's the one major negative to nitpick on an otherwise brilliant retro-modern design.

"Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success", Albaisa said.

The Nissan Z Proto is one of 10 new vehicles that Nissan is showing for the United States in 20 months.

The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Z. The rectangular grille dimensions are similar to the current model, although the grille fins nod to the past. Tamura said around 35% of 370Z owners prefer to row their own stick, so demand in both camps are substantial enough for Nissan to continue offering the three-pedal version.

"The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s", Mr Albaisa said. "We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z's identity".

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Spin the Z Proto around to profile view, and Nissan has thinned away the bulbous design of the current Z by crisping up the edges, belt line and roofline.

Integrated doorhandles add another injection of modernity while deep body contouring low down on the doors helps to emphasise the proportions of the rear wheelarches. The rear is inspired from the 300ZX (Z32) tail lamps, and is present within a rectangular black section wraping around the outer edges.

Carbon fibre has also been used on the front lower lip, side skirts, rear valance, while the wheels are 19-inch alloys and the auto sports dual exhaust outlets. It runs on 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/40 section tyres at the front and 285/35 section tyres at the rear. A proper 'Fairlady Z' badge planted on the rear of the vehicle. This can be seen in Z's instrumentation. The new steering wheel has driver quick access controls without losing its vintage appeal.

Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature special yellow accenting and a layered gradation stripe in the centre of the seats to create depth.

The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports auto ownership to as many people as possible. Whereas rival cars have moved away from the manual transmission, Nissan will produce a vehicle for the purists.

"This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm".

Make no mistake though, the Z Proto packs a powerful punch.

The all-important powertrain is the upgraded version of the V6 twin turbocharged engine whose power and torque figures were not officially revealed.

"Nissan is transforming its business", said Uchida. Because not only does the new Z look great, it's also filled with throwback references to old Z cars.

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