O, ye of little faith, take heart: We will see a new Nissan Z sports car next year.
“We are not forgetting about Z,” Ivan Espinosa, corporate vice president of global and Japan product planning, tells MotorTrend in an interview at the Tokyo Motor Show. “It is one of our emblematic cars.”
You can forgive us for being a bit nervous. The current 370Z went on sale in 2009 for the 2010 model year and other than a bit of a refresh in 2013, has remained relatively unchanged. The 3.7-liter V-6 still makes 332 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The NISMO bumps that up to 350 hp and 276 lb-ft. The two-seater has a six-speed manual transmission and seven-speed automatic.
Dropping the roadster is not a sign Nissan is abandoning the sports car, Espinosa assures us. There is a next-generation coming and it is important to the company. It is the exciting and fun side of the Nissan brand. But it does suggest the new Z will be coupe-only in a world with a dwindling number of convertibles. Some enthusiasts want a drop top but Nissan sees stronger demand for a traditional coupe, Espinosa said.
As for the design of the new car—which could be called the 400Z, indicating a possible increase to 4.0 liters of displacement for its V-6—executives remain coy. The final design is close to being done but has not been locked in, Espinosa said. Nissan must be careful to remain true to the Z’s heritage, which has been embraced by 1.5 million buyers, even as it ushers in a new era of design. Nissan recognizes and appreciates the passion and enthusiasm that has led to so many Z clubs and members who anxiously awaiting the sports car’s renewal.
Alfonso Albaisa, Global Vice President of Design, was tight-lipped when we asked him about the new design. All he would say is that just because the current 370Z is a low-volume seller does not mean the Z of tomorrow could not be sold in much higher numbers. As for electrification of the next-gen Z, Espinosa was also mum on that point, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a some form of electrification to provide a performance boost.