Let’s face it; the current Nissan 370Z is as old as the pyramids. Almost, anyway. It’s so old that there is concern it can’t meet some safety standards on the horizon. Yeah, that old. Unless Nissan radically updates it the current Z won’t meet the fed’s ever-tightening regulations. So what’s Nissan to do? It’s working on the next 370Z and we are told it will be a retro design.
Yes, it will harken back to its origins. Those halcyon days of BRE and SCCA racing and classic proportions. Hopefully the right size, the lithe agility, the power and ability to bend turns. That Z.
Nissan 370Z sales were only 3,000 last year
Combined, US and European sales last year was 3,000 Zs. That’s it. Even a decade ago it was only hitting about 10,000 units a year. Not a lot, but then the Z represents more than sales. It was Nissan’s most visible aspirational vehicle.
Husbands came into showrooms to check them out and couples drove away in an Altima or Maxima. It’s why Chevy has had a Corvette for almost 70 years. Dads come in to drool over the Vette, and moms drive out in an Impala. It’s an age-old marketing hook. That’s what the Z is to
Dealer shindigs have included images of the Z under development
Dealer meetings have included shots of the development Z to keep the faithful happy while they wait for something, anything. A new Titan or three-row SUV, “Give me something!” So the glimpse of hope that Nissan provides has leaked-at least verbally.
We hear the silhouette will be similar to the current 370Z. But the face will definitely remind everyone of the first Z. That, combined with a rear looking like the 300Zx of yore is said to make for a striking combo. Without seeing it in the flesh we’ll reserve comment.
Prototype Zs have been seen at the Nurburgring
Already prototypes have been spotted running around the Nurburgring. You wouldn’t know, though, because they are cloaked in current Z sheetmetal. So Nissan is working out powertrain development in disguise.
Sources say power will come from the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 currently residing in the Infiniti Q50/60 400 Red Sport. It will be backed by a nine-speed trans or manual transmission. If true we’ll see 500 hp for the top Z model.
“I think it’ll get to the point that safety compliance issues will need to be addressed,” says market analyst Stephanie Brinley. “It’s getting old.” She also thinks Nissan wants something to restore its image.
Nissan has a lot to do from years of malaise
Right now Nissan is battling demons of its own making. Everything from a generally ancient portfolio to the turmoil swirling around the arrest and firing of former CEO Carlos Ghosn has decimated Nissan. It’s in the process of letting go of 12,500 employees and just this past week required two days of no work/no pay across the entire company.
So is the new Z a high priority? No. Could it see a delay or multiple delays? Probably. There’s a lot to fix at Nissan, but a positive spotlight and free advertising from a new Z couldn’t hurt. Keep your fingers crossed for 2021.
And, if Nissan is looking for a trick to amortize a completely new platform or other components it must develop for a new Z, we have a suggestion. Design it so you can slap a two-door sedan body on it inspired by its IDx concept of a few years ago. We’d like to see that one, too.