After teasing us for a decade plus, last week Nissan made it official. There will indeed be a seventh generation Z. That’s great news for car enthusiasts, especially in this day and age where sports cars are an endangered species. We should be grateful, but we know that the Z name comes a whole lot of baggage: expectations, fanfare, countless online debates. With what little we know so far:
What are your thoughts, hopes, and fears about the next Z?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the best inexpensive Japanese off-roader?”
Our budget off-roader question elicited a range of eclectic answers. It included everything from Chris from LMM‘s serious and practical suggestion of a Nissan X-Terra to Angelo‘s recommendation of a Clarkson-approved rusty HiLux, to Dirty_S30‘s choice of a lifted Miata. Sage advice was offered by
エーイダン, who emphasized mechanical simplicity, and dankan, who stressed non-ownership. At the end of the day, the best answer this week went to Danny and his inspiring tale of a long road trip in an untested old rig.
I bought a 1st gen Montero (Pajero) for $2,000 last summer, then drove it from Montana a couple thousand miles home to West Virginia, with just a couple of extra quarts of oil for insurance. So far it seems to be very capable off road, with locking diffs and plenty of ground clearance. Other than basic maintenance it hasn’t needed much, and though under-powered on the highway, the low range 4 wheel drive off road makes the truck feel like it has plenty of grunt. It might not be the absolute best off roader, but Montero prices are hard to beat.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
I hope there’s no syncro-rev blip gimmick this time, and no heavier than 1300kg.
Thoughts: It looks beautiful. It doesn’t quite have the long hood of the S30, but its proportions are good, and it’s got just the right amount of retro to it. That logo tugged at me as a 240Z and 280Z owner.
Hopes: 3000 lbs, 300+ RWHP, high redline, I6, N/A, a clutch pedal, buttons instead of touchscreen, a screen that doesn’t jut out of the dash, room enough for a tall person, soft materials instead of plastic everywhere, door handles by the bottom of the door like the S30, mechanical LSD, true touchless proximity key enter-and-drive, one-touch-up windows
Fears: Turbo-4, 3800lbs, ugly exhaust note, CVT only, FWD, bad visibility, high price, cheap interior, cramming too much into the engine bay, weak transmission, cramped interior, interior that only has bright accents, chrome on interior trim that reflects sunlight into your eyes while driving, project being cancelled, inability to actually control the transmission if it IS a manual (skip-shift, auto rev match, etc), inability to fully disable the nannies if I want to have some fun, overzealous throttle mapping, hill control, auto start/stop, lack of carplay/android auto (or trying to charge monthly for it like BMW did), poor approach angles, lack of sidewall, ride height that’s too tall, ride height that’s too low, and a trunk instead of a hatch
I may have thought about this car a bit TOO much!
Ha, no harm in that! It should be an encouraging sign to Nissan that people are so passionate about the car. I don’t think you’ll need to fear a CVT, as Nissan hasn’t typically used those in RWD applications, but an MT might not be in the cards. I also think it’ll be hard to keep it to 3,000 lbs based on the FR-midship platform they’re using, but I hope it is!
They used CVT’s in JDM Nissan Skylines behind VQ’s all the time. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that they consolidate.
That said, I’d prefer they consolidate on the GT-R gearbox.
Hopes: Manual Transmission, low curb weight, knobs over touch screens, fluid body lines free of creases, honest use & display of materials & structure, robust endorsed performance upgrade structure – both factory & aftermarket. Return to simple excitement.
Fears: Automatic Transmission, bloated curb weight, touchscreens, cupholders, body sheet metal with all kinds of distracting creases, plastic “trim” pieces, GPS tracking services. Gaming the consumer with all kinds of gimmicks. Oh, while they’re at it, ditch Renault.
My cynical fear is that the new Z will be another Z32 300ZX. I worry that it will be heavy, expensive, and a disasterous flop. The ingredients are there for it. The platform the car is being built on does not have a great reputation for delivering splendid driver’s cars. Nor is the engine chosen famed for being very inspiring.
The numbers (400hp) sound great on a headline level, but I don’t see much of a market for a $50k 400hp coupe with mediocre handling and a non-premium badge. It won’t be mostly a BMW, but at the same time, I have extreme doubts that Nissan will be able to do anything better. It’s been a very long time since they outdid their rivals at anything.
My hope is that I’m utterly wrong, and they somehow hit the magic mix of advertising friendly numbers, and real-world sensation, to deliver the last great Japanese sports car using an internal combustion engine, which then proves to be a commercial smash hit.
the unit of measurement will be the mazda miata in terms of weight, power, traction, handling, simplicity, price, aftermarket, design and quality. with the right extra of greater habitability. everything that is not at that level will be criticized. On top of this try to transmit the DNA of the original model. great challenge for nissan designers.
Three key factors they have to hit out of the box:
1. It has to handle and perform to current sports car standards. Make it the SCCA car of choice it used to be.
2 They must use a Nissan designed engine. It would be great if they could offer a straight six option of their own design (Bring back the RB26!) but that has a zero percent chance of happening.
I hope they do not go the route of Toyota and team up with another manufacturer. Toyota has been rumored to be talking with Mazda about their new Skyactive straight six, could Nissan as well? That would kill the brand.
I do think they should follow Toyota’s lead and offer a turbo four as an entry option to a higher output V6.
3. Offer a six-speed manual. Hopefully they been paying close attention to the Supra launch. Oh, and please kill the 1980’s error (not a typo) up-shift indicator, I mean this is a sports car not a Versa. I drive manuals because I want to be in control.
I am sure they will stick with the current JATCO 7-speed automatic to save cost. There is zero chance a CVT will be used.
Weight – It is extremely hard to design a modern sports car in the current Z’s class that weighs less than 3,300-3,500 lbs. To go sub 3,000 lbs you need to be in the MX-5 class (2,300-2,400 lbs) which is obviously a much smaller car. I expect a weight near 3,300 lbs.
Technology – Customizable dashboard. Elimination of silly hard drive navigation system. We all have Android and iOS phones guys, just give us a decent screen and Android Auto/Apple Carplay support.
Interior – Please put your best interior design staff on this. Do not continue the use of the so un-ergonomic data input systems for the radio/climate control, and as mentioned hideous navigation system.
“1. It has to handle and perform to current sports car standards. Make it the SCCA car of choice it used to be.”
This all day.
Simple, my fear is that it won’t come with a manual gearbox. No car can be called a sports car in the true meaning of the word without one.
Yup – they wouldn’t do that?
I can easily get into a 1972 240Z and get comfortable. I had a hard time getting into a 370Z, an FR-S, and the Supra at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. Oddly the big doors on the Camaro made it easy to get in and I had some headroom without the sunroof model.
As I am a tall dude (6’4″) my biggest fear is fitting into these cars and bending my head down enough to get into the car. This is coming from a guy that used to look over the windshield in his ’66 1600 Datsun Roadster.
I just hope we can get one more cool Z car with a 6 cylinder engine (V or I) and a manual transmission before the inevitable change to all electric cars.
In the teaser the car looks absolutely fantastic. I really cannot wait to see it in daylight.
I remember when Toyota started releasing info about the FR-S/GT-86/BR-Z/Whatever you want to call it and I was so excited until I saw the final product and kind of shrugged and said “Meh.” I am cautiously optimistic that the same thing won’t happen with the new Z car.
Nissan has a decent record of styling tradition with the different generation of Z cars. The Supra seemed to morph into a completely different car with each generation which I think hurts the styling of the current model since it did not have a strong styling heritage to fall back on. Ford was able to bring the Mustang into the modern era while still keeping the styling cues that made it cool. I think Nissan can do the same with this design based on the tease.
Speedie, I think you’re right and I’m thinking the teaser isn’t a “concept” but probably a near-production ready version of the car.
The opportunity for Nissan with the 400Z is to get back to what the original 240Z was; a direct rival to Porsche’s 911 on power, weight and handling, but at half the price and with a classical FR fastback profile. Do that and you’ll repeat the success that Mr K enjoyed back in the day.
With the VR30DDTT installed, the Z35 is on target to hit its numbers. The real challenge is in taking the 20-year-old FM saloon platform and making it handle like the best FR sports cars. It’s a big ask, but this is the kind of challenge that Japanese engineers can on occasion rise to.
So, first thing is to borrow the R35’s GR6 dual-clutch gearbox. Why? because it fits at the back, under the rear seats in the GTR, moving the weight backwards. Having been in production for over a decade it can’t cost too much to make, yet it provides a modern seamless shift and will avoid the need to engineer both conventional manual and automatic options.
Having done this you then dry-sump the VR30 engine. Eliminating both the clutch/flywheel and sump, and without the GTR’s 4wd mechanicals jammed underneath, you can then drop the engine right down til the crankshaft is on the floor. This reduces the need for a towering bonnet bulge, and perhaps avoids needing a pop-up safety bonnet. The dry sump also ensures reliable oiling on track.
It’s going to be tough to get weight out of the existing platform, especially with the DSG, but I’d expect some kind of plastic/composite for the rear hatch (like the A90), and the same, or aluminium, for as many panels as possible.
With 50/50 weight balance and a significant chop to the centre of gravity height, we should be able to develop a much more agile car that feels balanced and sports-car responsive.
Infotainment should be purely phone-based (Apple & Android), possibly releasing an open-source app to interface with the car to display oil temperatures and so on, letting Z enthusiasts develop their own visualisations and alerts.
Although the platform is fixed, there’s room to trim a couple of inches off the car’s width by simply making the body panels that much narrower, rather than owners needing to fit 25mm spacers to get the flush look. If the Nismo version needs wider wheels, just do flared versions of the composite panels.
Talking of versions, this platform is amenable to profitable variations. A high tech package offers ProPilot highway self driving for those long trips, along with rear and perhaps side mirrors replaced with camera screens, and huge Tesla-style central touchscreen. A luxury package adds leather covering the plastic interior panels as well as the seats, more soundproofing and special paint colours. And the same drivetrain should easily support a Nismo Z with a lot more power, flared arches, wider wheels, big ducktail spoiler, the lot.
So my Z hopes are that Nissan seizes this last chance to make a proper petrol-powered sports car, invest to overcome the limitations of the legacy platform and hits a driver-focused home run. Ideally this will also spur Toyota to offer a lighter, cheaper six-cylinder Supra with the manual gearbox they’re sitting on.
My Z fears would be a torque converter auto, hybrid, 1700kg+ weight, anaemic soundtrack, too obviously outdated cabin and/or styling, fake vents or fussy creases, intrusive driver “aids” you can’t turn off, a price higher than the Supra, or the car not being sold in Europe at all due to low predicted sales, high taxes, or CO2 targets – remember the Z33 wasn’t initially destined for the old world. Most of all I guess I fear the legendary Z just flopping and disappearing with a whimper rather than a bang.
Here’s hoping for the best and will be fascinating to come back to these discussions when the new Z launches!
I’m actually glad they did focus on the Z. They know it is a car that people/enthusiasts are looking forward too.
I do wonder if they are gonna have a CVT transmission. I hope not.. but just how technology is going that way…
I had my 280z and 280zx in 2001 and missed those cars sorely… But even thinking of buy one nowadays is highly unlikely.
It will follow the same fate as the GT-R. normal people won’t be buying a sports car so they can only aim for upmarket customers by upping it’s spec to match super cars. That means it’s gonna lose it’s old tradition no matter what Nissan is trying to say.
My hope is that they get the “feel” right.
In this day and age it’s not too hard to make a “numbers” car where you have 300+ hp, multiple suspension settings, impressive 0-60 times, and whatever else you can get in a modern performance vehicle. But often times what looks good on paper doesn’t translate to an enjoyable experience on the road.
The car needs to be fun to drive above all else. It needs to engage the driver so that you can’t help but be excited every weekend morning to get out and just drive. The engine should have good power and a nice note. The transmission should be geared correctly and work with you rather than against you. The chassis and suspension ought to be dialed in and allow the car to flow and dance with the road. It can’t just be clumsy and awkward with a bunch of horsepower and stiff suspension as a handicap. My 280Z gives me this kind of joy and sensation and that’s what this new Z needs.
The whole reason why the Z is so revered is because that original car from 1969 did all those things that I mentioned. Why else would we give a damn all these years later? Nissan ought to realize this and incorporate these qualities into the car if they really want this to be a comeback. As it has been mentioned, the sports car is an endangered species and there’s really no room for Nissan to come up short.
If the new Z aims at simply being this half-assed sports car that looks decent on paper then it’ll have failed to represent what the nameplate really stands for.