The new Z from Nissan is here but is it any better than the 370Z?
It comes with a manual transmission, Hurrah!
11 years ago, Nissan wowed its audience with the launch of their relatively affordable but thrilling sports car, the 370Z which was a successor to the 350Z. It received a lot of acclamation for its sporty exhaust note, adequate amount of electricals to experiment with and how the car offered the most performance in the high-end of the rev band pinning you to the racy yet comfy seats.
However, Nissan wasn't quick to adapt itself to the changing trends in the automotive industry. Players such as the Chevrolet Camaro and the Porsche 718 soon came to steal a slice of the pie with more advanced tech and better performance. Those cars looked better, came with turbocharged engines which is the norm these days and had rich interiors with knobs to tune the suspension, steering feel and the exhaust notes too. Needless to say, the 370Z lost the resplendence it had.
Fast forward to 2020 and we have the Z Proto Concept, the spiritual successor to the unflinching 370Z. It promises a silhouette of the iconic Z cars we have seen in the past, opulent cockpit, melange of tech and above all, a six-speed manual transmission. Who says manuals are dying? Nissan has just reignited the bandwagon.
While its design has spurs a lot of verve, it is the front fascia I am not a fan of. I don't know if Nissan wanted to play their game safely, but it just looks too basic for my liking. The slightly angular headlamps too, don't do any justice to its sporty credentials. The grille appears to be like a wide-open mouth with honeycomb elements and finished in black, it does a wee bit to rant about the car's aggressive design. Upon a close look at the car, you will also notice gloss black splitters. The midriff or the side profile here will remind you not only of the 370Z and the 240Z, but also of the full-blown GT-R. A good thing that Nissan hasn't tweaked this section except that it now flanks the modern 'Z' emblem which debuted with this car. The clean lines and the muscular haunches make for a daunting stance on the road. Exactly what I would prefer. While I also adore the hunkered down stance, the most controversial bit is the rear visage of the car. It has a bit of understated elegance with its horizontal LED taillights, a glossy black strip for the Nissan logo and the massive diffuser for downforce. The chrome plated twin exhaust pipes are something that will make one its fan, instantly.
As Nissan promised us, this car wears the distinct elements of its progenitors and also brings in, its discrete ideologies. As it's been a long time coming, the Z Proto's interior too, has a wow factor in the way it has been crafted and ornated. The images give us a sneak peek into a cavernous 12.3" digital instrument cluster and yellow strips on the seats and countours. It also comes with a touchscreen infotainment system, finally and unique door mounted A/c vents. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the three guages present atop the dash for performance data. This has been a signature feature in both, the 370Z and the GT-R. While the exterior design was a huge step up from the 370Z, in the interior department, it even betters the GT-R with the latter looking like a scaffold now. Makes me wonder, does the more expensive GT-R with less upscale interiors deserve the money?
The engine powering the beast has been reportedly, transplanted by the Infiniti Q60 coupe which means a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 capable of laying down 400 hp and 474 Nm of torque to burn the tarmac. It should clinch the nough to sixty run in about 4 seconds. Nissan could also offer a base 2.0-litre turbo engine with 211 hp and 350 Nm of torque which also powers the Q60. One is sure to get fascinated by the 6-speed manual gearbox that is being offered with the car. It will make for one dainty little coupe then.
It's been over 5 decades since the S30, the car that pioneered the Z series was shown to the world. It was a Sisyphean task for the boffins and designers at Nissan to develop a worthy successor to the 370Z that mimicked the idiosyncrasies of its forefathers and also had its own traits. However, going by the package that they have shown, it seems this sinuous and petite but extremely frantic coupe is ready for yet another onslaught. Nissan has pulled it off well and how!