There are plenty of reasons to anticipate the demise of the Nissan Z sports car. After all, the Japanese automaker pulled the plug on the convertible version last year, and it has let the coupe go more than a decade with only modest updates. Add the reality that sports cars are little more than an asterisk on the sales charts in an SUV-centric world. There’s also the fact that struggling Nissan has announced plans to slash its model count after losing more than $6 billion last year.
So, for those who have still been hoping the Z car could hang on to its spot within the line-up, there’s reason to rejoice. The automaker surprised us with a short YouTube video that previews an assortment of new and updated products close to emerging from the pipeline. These include the already touted Frontier pickup, the next-generation Pathfinder SUV and, yes, an all-new version of the Z.
There wasn’t a lot to discern in the video that ran a mere 71 seconds, especially considering it highlighted fully 10 different models. But checking things out more closely – think frame-by-frame – does provide some insight, especially in light of what has already begun to leak out.
(Nissan’s $6.2B loss substantially worse than expected.)
For one thing, there’s clearly a retro element to the renewed sports car, apparently harkening back to the classic 240Z model. That starts with a low nose and circular headlights, richly sculpted wheel arches and the shape of the fastback. Nissan also filed a patent application last year for what could be badging influenced by early versions of the Z.
This won’t be a retro-mobile, however. Those headlamps, for example, are expected to use LED bulbs, and there’ll be plenty of technology apparent, both under the hood and inside, sources suggest, from the latest Nissan advanced driver assistance systems to digital gauge and infotainment screens. The taillights, expected to be more like those on the 300ZX, also should be LED-based.
The interior, meanwhile, was not visible in the video but is expected to borrow touches from the latest Altima – while adopting a more twin-cockpit layout.
As for powertrain, the betting is on one of two options: either a new 4.0-liter V-6 – with the two-seater being renamed the Nissan 400Z – or the twin-turbo V-6 that is powering the Red Sport 400 offerings from Nissan’s upscale Infiniti division.
(Nissan may cut 20K jobs globally; Renault could go under, French minister warns.)
Among the many other questions we’ll likely have to wait a while to get answered is whether there’ll be a new convertible version or if Nissan will stick solely with the coupe considering that convertibles also are becoming rare items these days. Speaking of sticks, if the automaker does want to harken back to the glory days of the Z, will it offer a manual gearbox?
The release of the video would suggest that there will be answers coming sometime within the next year, and likely sooner, though the pandemic has been playing havoc across the industry with new product program timing, some vehicles – such as the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – being pushed back.
The new Nissan video comes at a time when the second-largest Japanese automaker is struggling to reverse mounting losses. It is laying off thousands of workers, closing plants, including one in Barcelona, Spain, and trimming product lines.
But it is also introducing some new models, including the Ariya battery-electric vehicle briefly spotted in the video teaser. We were advised at January’s CES that this long-range model would be here before the end of 2020.
Plenty of existing models are getting much-needed makeovers, including the midsize Frontier pickup that’s been around even longer than the current-generation Z.
(Nissan plans for restructuring call for $2.8B in cost cuts.)
So, for a short video, there’s plenty of reason to play it, preferably in slow motion.