Why Nissan Should Bring Back the 300zx Name
We need the return of the 90's icon, more than just in essence
Nissan finally announced the newest Z sports car coming in the next year or so. While all the hype is surrounding this new coupe, dubbed the 400z, Nissan certainly could be doing better. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited for the 400z. Any twin-turbo coupe is enough to catch my attention and likely my approval shortly thereafter. However, I think they missed out on a huge opportunity to bring back the 300zx.
Nissan builds these little sports coupes to appease a few key demographics. Retired boomers, young adults who want to look cool and fun, and most centrally, enthusiasts looking for a thrill at an affordable price point. Us enthusiasts fail to account for a large portion of the entire auto market, hence the diminishing of the manual transmission. However, we are still a target market, no matter how small. Look at the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ. Not huge sales numbers, but still a success. Nissan left the stale and outdated 370z on the market for over a decade without any changes. This mistake cost them little in dollars, but lots in brand loyalty. Nissan has slowly become a company known for the most affordable crossovers. Brand image has proven to be essential for long-term growth of automotive companies. This is why halo cars exist alongside flagships. Both do next to nothing for revenue, but are placeholders for the identity of the company.
Remember when Nissan used to be cool? Credit: Motor1.com
The return of the Supra
Sure, Toyota got a lot of hate for collaborating with BMW to make the new A90 Supra happen. But, they actually did it. The dream for enthusiasts lusting after a fast and furious icon became reality. They changed a lot about the car, but in spirit it is still with us, so to speak. The idea of performance (Gazoo racing division) Nissan has the opportunity to do the same thing, or at least something similar to regain brand interest in Americans. The 300zx is perfect for the job. Well respected in the auto community, the 300zx could easily help improve the image of Nissan. Plus, not to mention the fact that it is being developed entirely in-house, an appeal the supra does not have to offer. Nissan has the perfect chance to build on the brand image and legacy that they once had, so successful in the 90s. If the 300zx was to return, placed right below the Supra, people would compare the two more closely. This could be a huge win for Nissan if executed properly.
They already have the engine.
The twin-turbo 3.0L V6 used in a lot of Infiniti models is going to the 400z, but could have better success if it was exclusive to the 300zx. Plus the nomenclature lines up well, 3.0L = 300zx just like the good ol days. The new Z exists only in renderings as of now, so there's no way of telling how it will sound. Here is a clip of the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport with the same engine to be featured. (Credit: NorCalDriver)
The elephant in the room. The predecessor to the 400z, the 370z is stale. An understatement, surely, but everyone has been complaining how old, outdated, and boring the 370z is for years now. Being on the market for well over a decade, the 370z has impressed us only in one dimension: how it has somehow managed to stay on sale all these years despite nearly zero interest. The sports coupe segment is dying, sure, but how has Nissan allowed a product to remain virtually untouched for 12 years in a lustful segment that is expected to lead in terms of technology and thrill? Have they forgotten about it?
Is this picture from 2008 or 2020? Who knows. Credit: Edmunds
The 370z is pretty cool by itself, however. No doubt about it. When you compare it to its competitors, you really see it show its age. No center screen, orange digital gauges, lack of features, the naturally aspirated engine. These are all things that were ridden of a Lon time ago by the competition. Don't just take my word for it, journalists have been droning on about this for years (see Motortrend). The bottom line is that the 400z is well overdue, and in order to make up for the apathy shown towards the sports coupe segment, Nissan needs to win us over again. What better way to do that then to bring back a true hero, in full form of its inspiration and glory. If there's any one attribute that appeals to that target market, it is reliving the past. Your move, Nissan.