Nissan Z Proto looks to the past to design its future

NISSAN has unveiled the Z Proto, signaling the company’s intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car, with the prototype version revealed in Yokohama, Japan, today.

Set to be powered by a twin turbo V6 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the new Z car shows its connection to the legendary 240Z and 300ZX models from the past, while showcasing modern technology.

First hinted at in a video named ‘Nissan A-Z’ in May, the Nissan Z Proto is described as a pure sports car by company CEO Makoto Uchida, with this model representing a key part of the Nissan NEXT transformation plan.

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Penned and developed by the design team in Japan, the Z Proto boasts a fresh, attractive exterior design with a silhouette that communicates respect for the original model.

It sports a bright yellow pearlescent paint, a tribute to a popular paint scheme on both the first generation Z (S30) and the 300ZX (Z32) and a black roof.

Combining a retro theme with one that also projected futurism was challenging, said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan.

“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” Nissan head of design Alfonso Albaisa said. “Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”

The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Z. The rectangular grille’s dimensions are similar to the current model, with the addition of oval grille fins to offer an updated modern look.

The form continues to exude both sportiness and elegance.

“The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s,” Albaisa explained.

“The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z’s identity.”

The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the Z Proto from the side. The roof line flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile.

The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect. The rear also takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights, reinterpreted for the modern world.

Set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, the LED taillights convey a sharp glow. Lightweight carbon fibre treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance ensure nimble performance.

19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto’s striking road presence. Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto’s cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches too.

The interior design team sought advice from professional motor sport legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track. This can be seen in the Z’s instrumentation.

All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the twelve o-clock position.

The new, deep dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic. 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 center of the seats to create depth. The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible.

“The Z has always been a strong dynamic performer, making it easy for customers to enjoy its capabilities and feel as connected as possible to the car,” chief Z Proto product specialist Hiroshi Tamura said.

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

Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.

“Z is a balance of power and agility,” Tamura continued. “It is a vehicle that creates a connection with the driver not just on the physical level, but emotionally, and responds to the driver’s impulses.”

Power and torque figures will be announced closer to its expected launch, which is assumed to be in 2021. Likewise, details of when the car will come to Australia and local pricing and specifications, are also not yet known.

Nissan Z prototype looks it it's past for design inspiration
Nissan Z Proto interior (overseas model shown)
Mick Glenn
Mick Glenn
Mick is a car fanatic, with petrol pumping through his veins. With a deep love for cars, and what makes them tick, Mick likes things that go fast, very fast. But he also appreciates a Sunday cruise in the Rolls...... who are we kidding, he'd drive the wheels off that too.


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