The long-awaited successor to the Nissan 370Z is finally becoming a reality with the all-new sportscar expected to be revealed within the next 12 months.
Tipped to be called the 400Z, the performance car is set to make use of a twin-turbocharged V6, promising greater levels of performance than its predecessor.
With the 370Z having been on sale with only minimal changes since 2009, rumours of what will replace it have been circulating for years.
Nissan recently filed a trademark application in Canada for a redesigned Z badge. It uses a retro font that harks back to the original Z car, the Datsun 240Z, and then the 260Z and 280Z.
The badge, however, won’t be the only element of the 400Z designed to evoke memories of previous Nissan sportscars. Some dealer managers in the US have been privy to the new design, and it’s understood from them that the Japanese brand has returned to its roots with a 240Z-inspired nose and 300ZX-inspired tail-lights.
Significant upgrades will also be made to the 400Z’s interior, as the 370Z was often criticised for its outdated design.
Material quality is set to be in line with Nissan’s latest US-market models, while the antiquated touchscreen will be replaced by a modern infotainment system featuring connected services.
A digital instrument display could also be offered, while advanced driver assistance technology will be brought in.
Details of the 400Z’s specific underpinnings are yet to be divulged but given the relatively low sales and margins of sportscars in this segment, it’s unlikely to be a bespoke platform. The rear-wheel-drive architecture of sister brand Infiniti’s Q50 and Q60 could be a prime candidate for adaptation.
Supporting this theory, our sister publication Autocar UK understands that the 400Z will make use of an Infiniti-sourced powertrain. Shunning the natural aspiration of its recent forebears, the new sportscar is tipped to utilise the flagship Q60’s 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6.
This all-aluminium engine is part of the VR family, which also includes a larger 3.8-litre unit used by the Nissan GT-R.
Producing 406hp in the Q60 (where it’s mated to a four-wheel-drive system), the 3.0-litre V6 takes the four-seat coupé from 0-100kph in 5.0sec. Although the 400Z is expected to be rear-wheel drive, its performance should be better than that, given that it will be significantly lighter than the 1,825kg Infiniti.
Nissan has experimented with this engine in the 370Z already, fitting it with a manual gearbox and displaying it at the 2018 SEMA aftermarket trade show. The 400Z name also implies this power output, plus the latest prototypes of the new Z car spied testing wore modified 370Z bodywork.
The 370Z firmly appeals to fans of old-school, enthusiast-targeted sportscars, so it’s likely Nissan will want to offer a manual gearbox alongside an automatic. However, rivals such as the Toyota GR Supra and Alpine A110 go without a stick-shift option.
There’s also scope for the Nismo sub-brand to make a return on a faster variant of the 400Z, with more hardcore suspension tuning and racier styling. Whereas the previous 370Z Nismo benefited from a boost of only 16hp over the standard car, turbocharging allows engineers to easily release significantly more power if necessary.
Talking to our sister publication Autocar UK last year, Nissan product planning boss Ivan Espinosa confirmed that a plan was in place, saying we “can expect something soon” on a new Z model. Design boss Alfonso Albaisa echoed this, saying it was “easy to imagine” a successor to the 370Z.
He added: “The Z is the car that democratised sports cars back in the ’60s. Before that, you had to have the money to buy a Porsche or a Jaguar. The current car has been a long time in dealerships, and so you can imagine the designers working on a successor, even if I’m not going to confirm it.”
No date for the 400Z’s unveiling has been given yet. Sources initially suggested a debut this year could be on the cards, but the coronavirus pandemic could easily push the international launch to next year.