That’s because it’s time to say hello to an all-new Nissan Z, possibly coming next year as a 2022 model. Officially called Proto Z, this just-revealed sports car could get the name 400Z for production. While looking very different from the car it will replace, it might look familiar if you know your Z-car history. The headlights, grille, overall shape, and little details here and there are tributes to the original Datsun 240Z of 1970. That car really put Datsun — the name Nissan used for years — on the performance automotive map.
While the next-gen Z honors its past, it’s also very much ready for tomorrow. Under the hood, a twin-turbo V6 engine likely good for well over 300 horsepower. While Nissan’s other cars move toward electrification, this one’s aimed at the traditional enthusiast. To that end, you’ll be able to shift your own gears with a 6-speed manual transmission. To the target audience, a Z just wouldn’t be a Z without a stick.
The current 370Z has now been around for nearly 12 years, a long time even by sports car standards. And there were often rumors that there might not even be a next one.
But this was too important a legacy for Nissan to just let go of. The Z will remain a Z, in the purest form. Two seats, and combining lots of traditional attributes with a nod to the future, notably inside. Touchscreen controls will combine with classic style instrumentation.
The so-called heritage look has worked out well for other sporty cars, notably the Ford Mustang over its past couple of generations, and the Dodge Challenger, with an iconic design recalling the original muscle car era.
Not lost in all this, the value of classic Datsun Zs continues to skyrocket, with the best examples of the early models sometimes fetching six figures. Nissan is likely counting on that renewed enthusiasm to ensure that the next Z — as a throwback styling-wise — catches a bit of nostalgia for the one that got it all going. But, wrapped around a modern performance car, aimed at 2022 and beyond.
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