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Nissan justified development costs of new Z car by reusing parts, platform

Exact details are not yet known, but it is clear Nissan’s new Z will run on a modified version of the existing 370Z platform.

Nissan managed to build a successful business case for its upcoming Z sports car by leveraging existing technologies and platforms, according to a product planning executive.

Speaking with journalists after the Z Proto reveal, Nissan senior vice-president of global product planning Ivan Espinosa said the brand turned to already-formed components to keep development in house.

“This car is made by Nissan, it’s an in-house development. So of course, we looked into what we could use and what had to be reinforced, improved and redeveloped to bring a very compelling drive,” he said.

Though exactly how much of the upcoming Z car, rumoured to be called 400Z, will be all-new remains unclear.

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The Z Proto’s dimensions are very similar to the existing 370Z, though the wheelbase length is yet to be revealed, while components such as the transmission tunnel and door cards appear to be lifted directly from its predecessor.

Similarly, Nissan is saying the engine is a twin-turbo V6 (no displacement or output figures were given), pointing to the 3.0-litre VR30DETT from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport that produces 298kW/475Nm.

Unlike other sports cars like the Toyota Supra and Mazda MX-5, Nissan has managed to justify building a new niche sports car by itself, shouldering all the design and development costs.

Mr Espinosa said the Z is one of the three key brand-building nameplates for Nissan (GT-R and Patrol being the others), and that the large fanbase was easy justification for the next car.

“The market is really shifting to SUVs, that’s clear. At the same time, if you look at the amount of Z cars we’ve sold, we’ve sold 1.8 million, so we have a very strong unit in operation (UIO) base,” he said.

“And we have confidence that we can sell a decent amount of cars to make the business case possible.

“The other side of the value of this car is … the value we generate in terms of brand awareness, in terms of additional followers to our brand, and the positive talk that this car gives to the brand is also permeating to other vehicle lines.

“It has an additional impact which is a bit difficult to quantify in the normal rules when you make up money for a car, but we know it’s there.”

As for the price of the new 400Z, it is expected to remain relatively affordable, despite updated technologies like a more potent engine, digital instrumentation and large multimedia touchscreen.

“I can’t give you specifics of the price, but we are very careful on remaining true to the concept, so it will still be the accessible dream car with a very good level of performance,” Mr Espinosa said.

“I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed at the moment we announce the price.”

For reference, the current 370Z starts at $50,490 before on-road costs for the manual coupe and extends to $64,490 for the Nismo-tuned automatic two door.

Timing for the new Z is unknown, but given Nissan's near-finished Z Proto, it is assumed the 400Z could be out as soon as next year.