The Nissan Z Proto is finally here, and it looks like it offers just about everything enthusiasts have been hoping for. It blends styling highlights from the Z’s long history into one, clean, modern package. And under the stylish skin is a twin-turbo engine at the front, drive wheels at the back, and a manual transmission in the middle.
All around the exterior you’ll see styling cues that echo a variety of Z cars, but the one that seems to have had the most influence is the original 240Z. Up front, the headlights and surrounding body work feature a low, semi-circle shape that suggests the scalloped headlight openings on that classic. There are chrome highlights across the middle of the grille like the 240Z’s bumper. Then there’s the rear pillar treatment with circular Z badges, and the angled “Fairlady Z” badge on the deck that appeared on the original car. There are other Zs represented, too. The bulge in the hood has been a longstanding Z trait. The rear taillights are directly inspired by the ’90s 300ZX. The rectangular grille and vertical character lines on the front fascia are reminiscent of the 350Z. And the taut lines and muscular rear fenders are very much like the current 370Z. Speaking of the current Z, the Proto is only a couple tenths of an inch off the Z in width and height, but it’s five inches longer.
The interior continues the retro mashup theme, but with a dash of modernity. The dashboard remains driver-focused, with the center stack canted toward the driver. The Z’s traditional triple auxiliary gauges remain on the top of the dash, also angled toward the driver. The doors show some current Z cues with the rounded door handles and air vents directly ahead of them. But unlike the outdated 370Z, there’s a large infotainment display in the center stack, and the instrument panel uses a 12.3-inch screen.
Mechanically, Nissan is staying pretty tight-lipped about the Z Proto. But what they have revealed is good so far. There’s a twin-turbo V6 under the hood connected to a six-speed manual transmission. There’s apparently an automatic in development, too, but that’s as detailed as the company would get. It’s possible it’s a version of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 used by Infiniti. Nissan even showed a SEMA concept with that engine just a couple of years ago. That engine makes 400 horsepower, which would be competitive with Supra, Mustang and Camaro. But at this point, it’s just speculation, and Nissan specifically noted that development is early enough that there could be significant changes.