Automotive

Published on August 18th, 2021 | by Joshua Chin

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Nissan Z Revealed With Retro Styling And A Twin-Turbo V6

And bolted to that 400 hp V6 too on the new Nissan Z is a six-speed manual gearbox. 

Having teased it for well over a year already, Nissan has finally officially unveiled its new Z. Serving as a replacement for the 370Z that has incidentally been on sale for over a decade already, this latest sports car to wear that iconic Z badge brings with it retro-inspired styling and what will likely be an equally-retro approach to fun. 

That is because underneath that new body of this new Z lies essentially the same underpinnings as the car it is going to be replacing. Though that shouldn’t really be a problem to anyone, as its predecessor was nevertheless a barrel of fun in its own old-school sports car way. 

To add to that too, it is not as if Nissan has basically thrown a different skin on the 370Z and called it a day. That is because aside from a raft of chassis and suspension tweaks (the fully nerdy details of which are to be found in the press release below) to make it handle better than ever before, this new model also now comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that outputs all of 400 hp and 475 Nm of torque. 

An improvement of nearly 70 hp and 110 Nm of torque over its outgoing predecessor, Nissan has unfortunately not yet provided an official century sprint time for this all-new Z. The automaker has however said this new version should be 15% quicker to 100 km/h than the car it replaces, which should therefore put it to be around the healthily high 4 second region. 

Rather interestingly also, Nissan has neglected to follow its own tradition in naming this new model the 400Z. Ditching the numerals however is perhaps the only major deviation from its heritage, as this latest and greatest iteration still sticks with the traditional Z formula of sending drive solely to the rear wheels via a standard (6-speed with rev-matching and launch control) row-your-own transmission. 

In continuing on the topic of heritage and touching further on the topic of its looks meanwhile, it is hard not to see the similarities with the older Z cars in this new retro revival. Nissan themselves admit as much too, with them proudly claiming that the ‘LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only Fairlady 240ZG of the 70s’. 

Nissan goes on to say that the ‘link to the original Z is most striking’ on this new model’s profile, where its flowing two-tone roofline from its nose to its squared off rear is a throwback to the first-generation Z cars. Borrowed from the later Z32 300ZX though are its rear tail light cluster design, which has since been naturally LED-fied in this latest iteration and is topped off with a cheeky ducktail rear spoiler just above it. 

Now moving onto its cabin on the other hand, the new Z’s two-seater layout continues on with the retro-meets-modern theme from the outside by packing in quite a lot of on-board tech into what is a fairly classic-looking dashboard design topped off by three analogue dials. The list of features within the interior includes a 12.3-inch TFT fully digital instrument cluster, an 8.0-inch (or optional 9.0-inch) central infotainment display, a bevy of active safety features and suede sports seats which Nissan has claimed to be designed ‘utilizing know-how from the GT-R’s development’. 

And speaking of the GT-R, Nissan has also graced the Performance variants of the Z that has been optioned with the 9-speed automatic transmission a set of aluminium paddle shifters taken straight from the Godzilla. This higher of two trim levels available nets too a mechanical clutch-type limited slip differential, as well as a set of larger 19-inch alloys wrapped in stickier Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires in contrast to the 18-inch wheel on the lower-spec Sport that comes sporting Yokohama Advan Sport rubber. 

Those however looking for a Z that looks closest to the strikingly-yellow one shown off in all the teasers will have to go for the Proto Spec. Limited to only 240 examples, this special edition of the regular Performance variant brings to the table yellow-coloured brake calipers and bronze 19-inch RAYS wheels on the outside, as well as leather upholstery with yellow accents and suede inserts within. 

Thus far, Nissan has yet to announce when exactly will the new Z officially go on sale next year. The Japanese automaker has been similarly cagey too on the exact price of this sports car, with only vague hints that it will start from the $40,000 (RM 170,000) over in North America. 

It has however been confirmed for this new Z to make its debut wearing the Fairlady suffix back in Japan this September. And while there is no official word on this yet, it could also be reasonably be said that this striking new Nissan sports car will unfortunately not be officially arriving over here any time soon. 

PRESS RELEASE: On August 17 local time, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. premiered the U.S.-market version of the all-new Nissan Z sports car at a special event in New York. The all-new, seventh-generation Z, representing more than 50 years of ongoing passion and dedication towards driving excitement, is scheduled to go on sale at Nissan dealers in the U.S. in spring 2022.

As a core model for Nissan, the Z helps maintain the “Nissan-ness” of the company as it continues its corporate transformation. At the center of the Z’s success are the fans, representing 1.8 million Zs sold, making it a global top-selling sports car.

As an approachable sports car for the modern age, the all-new Z offers attractive styling, advanced technology and the thrill of exploring the open road to past and future generations of Z drivers and fans.

“For us at Nissan, the Z is a part of who we are, and represents years of our commitment to customers. Through the Z, we bring the latest sports car design, performance and excitement to as many people as we can,” said Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer/chief performance officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

An exhilarating, dynamic performer

The original Z, which debuted in 1969, was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible. It was a car built for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts, and that spirit and heritage continues with the launch of the latest reincarnation of Z.

One of the defining traits of Z has always been its bond between the car and the driver – a physical and visceral connection, no matter the road ahead. That human-machine bond dominates the new Z, especially in the presence of the standard 6-speed manual transmission. As a physical touch point between driver and Z, the 6-speed’s shifter glides to the next gear, almost instinctively, with minimal effort. Also available is an advanced, quick response 9-speed automatic transmission.

“Simply put, our goal is to make this the best Z yet, period. With each generation, we raise the bar, pushing the limits of Z and continuing to tap into the human instinct for that next thrilling journey,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the new Z. “More than just powerful and agile, the all-new Z is designed to be one with the driver, for the car to be a ‘dance partner’ for their on-road adventures.”

The all-new Z’s 3.0-liter V-6 twin turbo engine adds a significant increase in power output over the previous generation 370Z. It is designed to deliver a sharp, yet smooth response to the driver’s input. With an increase of 68 HP and 30 percent increase in torque, this latest Z is like nothing before it.

The engine is rated at 400 horsepower (405 PS), and 350 lb-ft (475 Nm) of torque at 5,600 rpm.

With the increase in power, the engineering team tuned the chassis, cooling, suspension and steering to ensure the Z continues to support the driver’s intentions. Getting behind the wheel, the Z feels new and modern, yet still familiar.

In a first for a rear-wheel drive Nissan vehicle, the 6-speed manual transmission includes an advanced launch assist control system (Performance grade) that helps deliver smooth acceleration from a stopped position. All automatic transmission-equipped models feature the launch control system. Manual-transmission-equipped models also feature a carbon-fiber composite drive shaft and Downshift Rev Matching.

The new, optional 9-speed automatic transmission offers direct and quick response thanks to its wide gear ratios. Drivers can experience a satisfying engagement that keeps the thrill of Z power and performance in sync with the driver.

When it comes to delivering predictable, responsive handling, the engineering team took a multi-prong approach, especially for high-speed driving and cornering. Enhanced body rigidity, an electronic power steering with rack assist and a strong mechanical feel and wider front tires help increase cornering performance up to 13 percent.

Both front and rear dampers use a new monotube shock absorber design with a larger diameter than the outgoing 370Z, resulting in approximately 20 percent reduction in dampening force to help minimize impact shock over uneven surfaces, enhance road-following performance and improved handling stability. The front double-wishbone aluminum suspension features new geometry, including caster angle which has been increased, aiding in straight line stability.

Two drive modes are offered with the automatic transmission, standard and sport. Standard mode is best suited for commuting and long highway drives for a pleasant, stress-free drive. Sport mode unlocks the Z’s performance potential, offering faster acceleration control, a sports-mode steering profile, active sound enhancement and sports-mode vehicle dynamic control setting best matched to take on a spirited run through a winding road. Z Performance grade models utilize a mechanical clutch-type limited-slip differential.

Z exterior – past meets future

The all-new Z boasts a sleek exterior design with an appearance that communicates respect to its lineage. Its long hood and short deck are fundamentally Z, with a fresh look that is love-at-first-sight. The design theme for the exterior and interior of the new Z is “tradition with modern technology.”

“Our designers listened to thousands of current Z owners, made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design. “Ultimately, we decided the Z should travel between the decades, including the future.”

For the exterior, the new Z takes on a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports car design, with a long hood, lower rear stance and a silhouette that pays homage to the first-generation Z. The designers utilized the latest technologies to streamline the design, and incorporated LED lighting to give dimension without unnecessary elements. The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only Fairlady 240ZG of the 70s, which fit naturally with the new Z’s identity.

The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the all-new Z from the side. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile, whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture.

The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect. The rear combination lamps incorporate modern technology into the styling reminiscent of the Z32 300ZX, including new 3-D signature LED taillights that are distinctly Z.

The Z Performance grade features a rear spoiler that creates positive pressure where the rear hatch and spoiler meet, mitigating rear lift. The front spoiler takes advantage of knowledge gained through Nissan GT-R development to utilize negative pressure zones.

The all-new Z is available in three monotone exterior colors and six two-tone exterior colors including two new colors, Seiran Blue and Ikazuchi Yellow – both with a Super Black roof.

Z interior: modern tech with a vintage touch

Designed to fit the driver and passenger like a glove, the cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches. The center stack takes inspiration from previous generations, with three analog pod gauges on the instrument panel, 8.0-inch touchscreen audio display in the center and climate control switches near the shifter.

The interior design team also sought advice from professional motorsports legends, such as Nissan Super GT500 driver Tsugio Matsuda, to give the Z an ideal sports car cabin for various driving situations. This can be seen in the instrumentation, with all vital information found in the 12.3-inch customizable digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the 12 o’clock position. The 12.3-inch TFT meter display is all-new with three display modes to suit driver preference.

The new Z’s center stack uses a three-zone approach, placing three analog pod gauges on the instrument panel (boost, turbo speed, volt) within the driver’s eyesight. Both the manual and automatic shift levers are new, each of them custom-engineered for optimized grip and comfort.

The new, deep spoke steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing the vintage aesthetic.

The design of the seats utilizes know-how from the GT-R’s development to enhance both hold and fit. The expanded use of suede on the seatback suppresses initial lateral shake on the body, creating more comfortable drives, as well as reducing body movement when the vehicle is aggressively cornering.

Three interior color environments are available – Graphite, Red and Blue. The limited edition Proto Spec features yellow accents throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature layered seat material to create depth and a gradation effect.

Two models, one limited edition

For the United States market, the all-new Z will be offered in Sport and Performance grades, each with a choice of a 6-speed manual or new 9-speed automatic transmission.

A limited edition Nissan Z Proto Spec is also offered featuring exclusive yellow-colored brake calipers with Z logo, bronze-colored aluminum-alloy wheels, exclusive leather-appointed seats with yellow accents and yellow interior stitching throughout. Production of the Nissan Z Proto Spec is limited to 240 units.

“For more than 50 years, the Z has been an accessible dream sports car, added Gupta. Its timeless appeal is the result of the ongoing passion and dedication of countless employees, working to deliver the thrill of the Z to past and future generations.”

Nissan will be announcing details for the all-new Z for the Japan market, known as the Fairlady Z, this winter.

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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