The Nissan Z is one of those cars that you just know even if you’re not a sports car enthusiast. Like the iconic American Corvette or Mustang , the Z is instantly recognizable and needs just that one letter to tell you what it’s all about. Nissan /zigman2/quotes/207656007/composite NSANY -1.44% is calling this the Z Proto – think of it as a concept car with one foot in reality. Based on the concept version of the new Nissan Ariya, we think it’s closer to being a real car than most concepts.
We’ve seen the prototype up close, and it is striking. The stylized “Z” on the rear pillar is there, as are large dual exhaust outlets in the rear. One touch we really like, the LED headlights are covered by clear lenses similar to the look of the Nissan 240ZG. The rear end has a 300ZX feel, and the thin LED taillights look like retro-futurism done right.
The 19-inch wheels with lettered tires give the more of the aggressive look some more recent Zs have lacked. It’s almost like Nissan designers specifically aimed to remove some of the soft looks of more recent Zs.
Nissan had already said the Z will be powered by a “V6 twin-turbo,” but that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Our guess – it will be a version of the company’s VR engine making around 350 hp. Better yet, what if the new Z has the VC-Turbo, which is the variable-compression engine that delivers 248 hp in the Altima. Plus, could this engine be beefed up to produce around 300 hp and still manage more than 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving? Probably. In the Altima, that engine delivers a good amount of power with no drama.
Nissan says, “Make no mistake though; the Z Proto packs a powerful punch. Under the elongated hood is an enhanced V6 twin-turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As a prototype, work is now under way to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.”
While the true nature of a sports car is agility, not just power, we find it interesting that Nissan chose to include this line in their press materials: “Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.” Are they promising more power or warning us that more power is not needed?
However, the new Nissan Z doesn’t need to be 400 hp supercar because of the use of lightweight materials. Nissan says, “Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip, and rear valance ensure nimble performance.”
Here are the dimensions of the new Nissan Z / Z Proto:
We also know the Proto Z prototype has a “theoretical” six-speed manual transmission and an automatic is in development.
No word on when the new Z will actually be available. Based on the Z Proto, we’re guessing it will be a 2022 Nissan Z and could be ready late 2021 or early 2022.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.