The renderings suggest the production Nissan 400Z will hew closely to the look of the Nissan Z Proto.

Newly discovered patent filings by Nissan reveal what appears to be the final design for the eagerly awaited new Nissan Z-Car – and, if there are no major changes in store by the time the production model reaches showrooms, the new sports car will be a virtual clone of the Nissan Z Proto concept that was unveiled last September.

There is no question that a major update is needed badly. The current version of the Z-Car has been around, with only modest updates, since 2008. But anyone who expected a major change in styling direction will be disappointed, as the automaker signaled last autumn, noting in a statement that the Z Proto “pays full respect to 50 years of Z heritage.”

Few other details have leaked out about the next-generation sports car but what currently is called the 370Z is expected to be renamed the Nissan 400Z when it launches into the 2022 model year.

(Get a first look at the Nissan Z Proto.)

The renderings show the production version of the Nissan 400Z blending modern design elements with Z-Car classic cues, such as the taillights.

Redesigning a vehicle as iconic as the Z-Car is always challenging, as stylists discovered working on other legendary products, such as the Porsche 911 and Ford Mustang.

The basic dimensions and “hardpoints” seen in these renderings – which showed up on an Australian patent site – show that Nissan will, indeed, “respect” the classic Z-Car shape that has been around since the car first debuted in 1969 in Japan. Back then, it was known as the Fairlady Z, a name mercifully shortened before it reached the States.

The design shown in these renderings has an undeniably retro element, starting with the overall shape and including details like the classic taillights in a rectangular housing that stretches across the back end. There’s also a traditional power bulge to the hood.

The radar housing in the lower grille wasn’t featured in the Nissan Proto Z concept.

There are clearly modern elements, including the radar sensor visible in the lower grille that will be used for a forward collision warning system and active cruise control. And the headlights and other details were certainly tweaked to improve the sports car’s aerodynamics.

(Nissan keeps up with slow tease of next-gen Z-Car)

That wasn’t found on the Z Proto. And the headlights shown in the rendering are also slightly different. What appears to be keyholes also can be seen in the production model’s rendering.

The renderings did not offer insight into the production 400Z interior but the cabin of the Z Proto reportedly was quite close to what we expect the final version of the sports car will look like. As we noted last September, “The original Z offered a cockpit-like layout to its cabin, a design that is picked up — and modernized with the Proto which was influenced by the Japanese automaker’s motorsports program.”

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida — shown with the Z Proto — said the production Z would be available with a six-speed manual transmission.

TheDetroitBureau.com also pointed out that while there are hints of the early days of the Z line, the overall look is more modern, with a deep dish steering wheel incorporating modern controls. Also within easy reach is a touchscreen infotainment system, while critical information pops up on a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

The final Z-Car design is expected to come in close to the dimensions of the recent show car, meaning an overall length of 172.5 inches – about a half-inch longer than the current Nissan 370Z — a width of 72.8 inches and a height of 51.6 inches.

As for power, it’s expected to come from what Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida called an “enhanced” version of the current twin-turbo V-6. And, unlike so many other sports car competitors – including the C8 Chevrolet Corvette – the Nissan 400Z is expected to retain a manual transmission option.

“Each generation had a more powerful engine,” Nissan noted in a press release for the Z Proto that likely will apply to the production model. But it cautions that power isn’t everything. “Z is more than just powerful and agile,” said Chief Product Specialist Hiroshi Tamura. “It is designed to create a connection with the driver, for the car to be a ‘dance partner’ for their on-road adventures.”

(The Z is Back! Nissan video delivers first images on next-gen sports car.)

That adventure is expected to begin late this year.

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