The rumor last week that Nissan — looking on forlornly as rival Toyota joined hands with BMW on the new Supra — would turn to Mercedes to co-develop the next Z has sparked another round of gossip. This time, the Mercedes partnership is debunked, while other theories take flight.
First, let’s address the Nissan-Mercedes collab. Motor Trend reports that it’s definitely not happening. They explain that Mercedes is killing off the SLC-Class roadster, the only chassis in the Benz portfolio small and light enough to share with the new Z. They go on to say that Mercedes talked with Renault as well, but no deal was reached.
Of course, Mercedes has had no issue selling an older platform to a partner. The Dodge Challenger and Charger both use 15-year-old Mercedes suspension designs from when DaimlerChrysler was a thing. But let’s assume Motor Trend is right, as Mercedes cited that it just didn’t make sense to sell a small roadster in today’s auto market.
The rest of the information comes from UK’s AutoCar, who published a report on Monday that claims that the next Z has been given the “green light.” There’s a lot to unpack in there, but the claims seem a bit thin on evidence. One source appears to be head designer Alfonso Albaisa, whom they interviewed last year.
Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa told Autocar last year that he was in favour of a new Z car to replace the 370Z. He said the sports car market was a challenging one but was “personally advocating” a new Z car.
As we’ve learned from experience, what designers want and push for has, sadly, no bearing on what the company actually produces.
The forthcoming model is known internally as the Z35 – a codename that continues a process started with the Z31 model launched in 1983. It has been twinned with the next Infiniti Q60, with which it will share its rear-wheel-drive platform, engine line-up and electric system, according to senior officials from Nissan.
The current Z34 chassis was based on the FM platform that underpinned the V35 and V36 Infiniti G-Series so this would make sense, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the next chassis code would be called the Z35. However, as of January 28, 2018 top Nissan officials still seemed pretty unsure about the Z’s future. Things could have changed in the intervening month and a half or so, but that doesn’t leave the car enough development time to arrive in 2019.
Power for the new coupé and convertible, which insiders suggest could be called the 400Z, is planned to come from Nissan’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine used in a number of existing models, including Infiniti’s Q50 and Q60. In standard versions of the new Z car, the engine, which has a 60deg vee angle, is expected to run a similar state of tune to that of the Q60, which develops 399bhp and 350lb ft.
This comports with Japanese reports that the top-spec Z would use the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport’s 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6. Since the beginning, though, the Z’s model name has been based on its engine displacement. Calling it the 400Z, presumably based on power output, would be a departure.
Although it’s still early days, Autocar understands that Nissan intends to reveal the styling of the new Z car in concept form at the 2018 Tokyo motor show in October. The definitive production version is then planned to be unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles motor show.
Well, the problem with that is that there is no 2018 Tokyo Motor Show. The show is biennial, so the next one won’t be held until 2019.
The article also says that following the coupe’s 2020 model year intro, in 2021 Nissan will introduce roadster and NISMO versions. And, the latter will see the same engine tuned to 475 horsepower and 451 lb-ft of torque.
There are a lot of claims in the story, but there’s also enough to raise red flags. So as with the previous rumor, take it all with a pile of salt big enough to dissolve a battleship.
We hope we’re wrong, though, because we’d really love to see the Z live on. For what it’s worth, JNC reached out to a Nissan representative in Japan and got the company line of “We don’t comment on future product.”
Some images courtesy of Nissan.