Nissan’s Z Proto Offers Classic Shape and Twin-Turbo V6

After two generations of heavier, rounder bodies, it was important that Nissan hired a careful artist to shape the latest addition to the Z stable. The Z Proto divorces itself from the recent past with a sleek, elegant, slimmer shape; a wider footprint, and, thankfully, a turbocharged motor.

The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Zs of the seventies. The proportions are reworked to give the impression of narrower hips, although the current Nismo 370Z’s width is only 0.8-inch wider.

The link to the original Z is most obvious from the silhouette of the Z Proto. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear. The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect. Rectangular taillights reminiscent of the 300ZX’s are another cue from the family’s styling library.

The rear lights feature a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, simplifying the features of the Z Proto.

Bear in mind, this is essentially an artist’s rendering and the trim isn’t set in stone, but here it’s kept fairly quiet. Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, rear valence, and front lower lip sets off the skirtline, and 19-inch alloy wheels give it an athletic stance. The emphasis is kept on its clean shape without much in the way of badges.

Under the elongated hood is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with estimates of 400 horsepower. As capable as a built VQ engine is, the proposition of significant power gains with easy bolt-ons sounds refreshing—especially when there’s the Supra’s B58 engine to contend with.

If the current Infiniti Q60’s 350 pound-feet from 1,600 rpm is something we can expect in the new Z, the driving experience will be more muscle car than that of the outgoing, normally-aspirated Z34s. To make the power manageable, Nissan will fit the rear axle with 285/35R19 tires and a set of 255/40R19s up front.

A squared-off dash and a comfier cabin feel should change the sense of occasion; this looks less like a GT’s interior.

Taking the retro route is a tricky thing to do. You’re bound to offend some purists, but when you’ve got the right shape and a decent amount of grunt, the stubborn may make themselves more amenable.

 

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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