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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

The Fairlady Returns

This week, Nissan took the wraps of their latest concept vehicle in their onslaught of 10 new vehicles in 20 months to reinvent itself in the eyes of the consumer.

We have already covered two key entries in this strategy, the Rogue Compact Crossover and the All-Electric Aryia Crossover. Now that they have the volume selling models covered, Nissan brass have turned their attention to the sports car enthusiast and tapped into their 50 years of sports car heritage with the Z Proto. Officially a development study, Nissan shows the world the new design direction of their most storied nameplate.

"The Z represents the joy of driving in its purest form and has helped shape Nissan's DNA as a passionate, innovative challenger," said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. "Ever since the first generation, it has captured the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. That's why we're so excited today to be able to say to them: Yes, the next one is coming!"

Nissan betting big on the design and features of this prototype, hosting a streaming of the Japanese unveil in a drive-in style event at their US HQ in Tennessee dubbed ZCON.

ZCON, or Z Car Convention, is in its 33rd year and is celebrating the nameplate's 50th anniversary and there is a lot to please the Nissan Z faithful with many callbacks to all generations of Z car, including "Fairlady" branding from the original Datsun 240Z.

Not much was shared about the technical specs of this "development study" but Nissan did announce that there is a twin-turbo V6 under the hood paired to a 6-speed manual transmission (an automatic option is also in development). This certainly gives Nissan the upper hand over its main rival, the Toyota Supra which is a joint effort between Toyota and BMW that does not currently offer the option to row your own gears. #SaveTheManuals!

Officially 5.6 inches longer (172.5 inches overall), 0.4 inches taller (51.6 inches), and the same 72.8 inches in width as the current 370Z, not too much has changed in the overall scale of this vehicle. Wheels are 19 inches front and rear and tires are 255/40's in the front and 285/35's in the rear.

Everything else we know about the Z Proto will have to be gleaned from the pictures Nissan shared. We especially like the 12 o'clock position of the redline on the prominent tachometer in the race-inspired digital gauge cluster. Three analog performance gauges adorn the top of the dash above the large infotainment touchscreen; highlighting boost pressure, turbine speed of the turbos, and battery voltage. Overall the design is clean, retro while modern, with accents of the bright yellow making their way inside via piping and stitching on the seats.

Reactions have been mixed both online and here at Garage Talk. Starting with the obvious, Matt is offended by the color while I, Cory, cannot wait to see more cars this bold in their color choices. Then there is the actual design. The rear most clearly mimics the 300ZX of the 90's which itself hearkened back to the original, another design feature I chalk up as a win. This is the first rear-end of a Z car I have liked since the ZX. The face is a blend of the current 370Z with design elements from the 240Z such as the round LED accent lighting in the headlights and the polarizing rectangular grille. Retro cues continue with the "Farilady" script across the rear and the "Z" badging on the sloping roofline. The Z Proto is not immune from current design fads, however, with most notable being the "floating roof" design that contrasts sharply with the bright yellow of this concept. Overall, I believe the silhouette of this vehicle is its most attractive feature, giving the Jaguar F-Type a run for its money in least in profile.

There is no telling exactly how much of this concept will make reality, but it certainly looks street-ready to us. We will save our final judgement for when we can witness one in-person for ourselves, until then we will let the internet debate the success or failure of redesigning this particular icon.

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