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Nissan Z Proto heralds new 400Z 2021: Toyota Supra rival goes old school with retro design

Taking inspiration from the original 240Z, the Nissan Z Proto looks both retro throwback and cutting-edge coupe.

Nissan has finally gone official with its long-gestating and hotly-anticipated next-generation Z sports car, unveiling a protype with retro styling, a twin-turbo petrol V6 engine and manual gearbox.

Taking cues from the original Datsun 240Z and cult-favourite 300ZX, the Z Proto wears an eye-catching yellow pearlescent paint scheme with a contrasting black roof.

From the front, homages to its forebears can be seen in the teardrop-shaped LED headlights and sculpted bonnet, while the rectangular air intake is borrowed from the current 370Z.

However, the Z lineage is most prominent in profile thanks to a steeply-racked roofline and muscular rear haunches.

The 19-inch wheels fitted to the concept car feature a 10-spoke designed finished in gold, while the staggered 255/40 front and 285/35 rear tyres allude to its rear-drive set-up.

  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto
  • Nissan Z Proto Nissan Z Proto

According to Nissan, the rear borrows the 300ZX’s iconic squared-off tail-light design, but updates them for a more modern look thanks to LEDs and a slender housing finished in black.

Capping off the exterior is a carbon-fibre body kit, which runs along the front lip, side skirts and rear diffuser – the latter also finished off with dual-exhaust tips.

The retro theme continues inside the cabin too, though not necessarily for the better.

Keen-eyed car spotters can glimpse the integrated air-vent and door handle design that first appeared on the 350Z in 2002, as well as seats and a transmission tunnel that appear lifted straight from the current 370Z sports car.

However, Nissan has gone about bringing some modernity to its new sports car, fitting a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument display with a central tachometer and 12 o’clock redline shift point.

The deep-dish steering wheel is also new, according to Nissan, and sports multimedia and cruise controls at the driver’s fingertips.

No details were given on the multimedia screen, but touch controls with physical knobs for volume and radio tuning can be seen. Expect the usual assortment of Bluetooth, satellite navigation and smartphone support though.

As with Z cars in the past, the Z Proto also sports a trio of gauges on the dashboard, showing boost pressure, turbo rpms and battery voltage.

Eschewing the trend for all touch controls, the Z Proto also features three physical knobs for climate controls.

Yellow-stich highlighting is featured throughout the cabin, and the seats are also finished with splash of the same hue to reflect the exterior.

Powering the concept is a twin-turbo V6 engine, mated to a six-speed manual, though Nissan is yet to confirm the exact outputs or displacement of the motor.

Scuttlebutt points to the force-fed 3.0-litre six cylinder (derived from the Nissan GT-R’s VR38DETT engine) as seen in the defunct-for-Australia Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport, which output 298kW/475Nm.

However, both aforementioned Infiniti models were paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, whereas the Z Proto proudly boasts a do-it-yourself shifter.

For refence, the 370Z currently outputs up to 253kW/371Nm in Nismo form.

Dimensionally, the Z Proto is longer, wider and lower than its 370Z predecessor, measuring 4382mm, 1850mm and 1310mm respectively, though it remains to be seen how the production version will shape up.

Timing is also unclear for when the Z Proto will hit open roads, but if the so-called 400Z follows the concept-to-production timing of the Ariay electric SUV, expect a launch in 2021.