Nissan Z Proto Shows Off Retro Design, Twin-Turbo V6

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Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - September 16, 2020

Nissan finally revealed the upcoming replacement for the aging 370Z sports car in concept form with the Z Proto. Nissan claims the Z Proto is close to what we can expect from a production version of the sports car, which is good news because the concept takes a lot of design elements from older Z models and mashes them together into a stunning, modern look. While the overall shape of the Z Proto looks similar to the current 370Z’s, the concept certainly looks like it will give Nissan a modern sports car for the new age.

Let’s start with the design of the Z Proto. While the 370Z has a bulbous, frog-like stance, the Z Proto is more elegant. It’s 5 inches longer and 0.2 inches wider than the 370Z, but surprisingly shorter. The dimensions give the Z Proto cleaner lines that make it look more upscale. The exterior also gets unique touches from past Z sports cars, including headlights that are inspired by the 240Z, taillights from the 300ZX, a Z badge on the C-pillar, and bright yellow pearlescent paint, which was a popular paint job on the 240Z and 300ZX.

The interior gets an overhaul compared to the current 370Z with larger screens for the instrument cluster and the infotainment system, a new steering wheel design, a redesigned dash with cleaner lines, and, a touch to the past, three gauges on top of the dash. The Z Proto doesn’t rewrite everything found in the 370Z, but it’s certainly a more handsome design.

Nissan Z Proto

Under the long, chiseled hood sits a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that’s paired to a six-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission will be offered, but Nissan states that the gearbox is still being developed. There’s no word on engine output, either, though the same engine in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 makes 300 and 400 horsepower. All Nissan will say about the engine is that every new generation of the Z sports car has more power than the one before it. So, we expect the turbocharged engine to make more power than the 332-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine found in the current 370Z.

With so much that’s unknown about the Z Proto, it’s difficult to say how the 370Z compares to the prototype. But at first glance, it certainly looks like a massive improvement. If Nissan manages to keep pricing down below $40,000 – the current 370Z starts at $31,015 including destination – the sports car should be a hit.

It’s difficult to say how the Z Proto compares against the Toyota Supra, BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro, and Ford Mustang since we don’t have all of the vehicle’s specs yet. To be competitive, the Z Proto will have to have around 400 horsepower.

The Supra and Z4 come with a 382-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, the Corvette is powered by a 490-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine, the Camaro has an available 455-hp 6.2-liter V8, and the Mustang can be equipped with a 460-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine. The Camaro is the most affordable option of the bunch (when equipped with the V8), with a starting price tag of $34,995. The Z4 sDrive M40i is the most expensive competitor with a starting price of $64,695.

The Z Proto is very much a prototype. The official sports car still doesn’t have a name yet and Nissan didn’t provide a timeline for when the production variant will be introduced. Since Nissan claims the Z Proto is close to being production-ready, we expect to see a new sports car from the automaker go on sale before the end of 2021.

Explore the current 370Z on sale now »

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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