nissan proto z

Much to the delight of sports car enthusiasts, the next-generation Nissan Z model has finally arrived. After a 12-year production run of the popular 370Z, Nissan’s iconic Z-car will be redesigned from the ground up for the 2021 model year.

Based off of the Nissan Z Proto concept, the 370Z’s successor is projected to carry the 400Z name. According to The Drive, Nissan executives are saying the 400Z will reach production relatively unchanged from the Z Proto concept.

If that holds true, that’s exceptionally exciting news for enthusiasts who have long clamored for Nissan to transform the Z into a world-class performance car. The Z Proto has drawn universal praise from auto publications for its new twin-turbo V6 engine.

Twin-Turbocharged Power Returns

Car and Driver reports the new powertrain will likely be an iteration of the 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine found in the Infiniti Q60 coupe—which produces 300 horsepower in standard form and 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque in the Red Sport 400 model.

The actual figure for the 400Z will most likely fall somewhere toward the higher end of that spectrum, perhaps leaving a little headroom for a more aggressively tuned version to be featured in a possible Z Nismo. Regardless, that’s a substantial increase over the outgoing 370’s naturally aspirated 3.7L V6 mill rated at 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

This marks the first time in 25 years that a twin-turbocharged engine has been offered in the Z. Nissan discontinued the 300ZX in the North American market in 1996, which coincidentally also featured a twin-turbo V6 with 3.0 liters of displacement.

Enhanced Driving Experience

Twin-turbocharged powertrains deliver almost instantaneous low-rpm torque with virtually no lag, so you can expect the 400Z to decisively deliver a much higher degree of neck snapping torque and seat-of-the-pants acceleration. Since naturally aspirated engines like the 370Z’s 3.7L V6 don’t reach maximum torque until much higher in the RPM band, that “thrust” is often much less prevalent.

If news of its exhilarating new powertrain hasn't already got enthusiasts’ gears turning, then perhaps Nissan’s promise of a standard six-speed manual transmission in the 370Z’s successor is sure to push them over the edge. Rowing your own gears in a Nissan Z is nothing short of an experience of mystic self-transcendence—and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Dating back to the model’s origin in 1969, the Nissan Z has always been offered with a stick, so it should come as no surprise. As an alternative option to the six-speed manual, the 400Z will likely also be offered with a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Heritage-Rich Styling

The Nissan Z Proto has already drawn rave reviews for its timeless styling—featuring many design cues that harken back through generations of the model’s past. Its massive rectangular front grille and curved headlight framework are reminiscent of the first generation Datsun 240Z. In the rear, the Z Proto’s “Tylenol pill” shaped tail lamps date back to the Z32-generation 300ZX. While these are just a few examples, enthusiasts will be delighted to see the numerous “Easter eggs” Nissan designers have hidden throughout the Z Proto’s exterior and interior design.

Nissan 400Z Pricing and Release Date

Pricing for the 2021 Nissan 400Z has yet to be announced, but Car and Driver estimates it will start in the $45,000 range. It will go on sale in the US in the spring of 2021.

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