Hooniverse Asks: What do you think about the new Nissan Z Proto?

The time of a new Nissan Z is essentially here. Nissan unveiled its Z Proto yesterday. This isn’t the production car, mind you, but it is a signal of “the company’s intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car” per the automaker’s press release. We here at Hooniverse HQ have many opinions on this thing. Some correct and others maybe less so. But we’ll share those with you on Friday as we gather all these takes in one spot after baking properly in our Take Oven.

For now, I’d like to hear what you think about the new Z. Here are two more photos for you to eyeball:

Now time for some known stats. Under the hood, you’ll see a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. I think it’s safe to assume this mill is related to (or the same) as the one found bolted between the fenders of the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. It’s backed up by a real-deal manual gearbox and power goes to the rear wheels. Nissan is still figuring out which autobox to stuff in there as an option.

So you have the basics. What do you think at first glance? Sound off below.

39 Comments

  1. Half of the upper ‘grille’ is a bumper bar. I wish companies would stop with the fake air openings that are blocked off. Especially when a key aspect of the 280z was the bumper splitting the upper and lower grilles

  2. Not a an of the big rectangular maw up front, but other than that, I like it. Love the shape, love the back end and the big rear hatch. That color had better make it into production, too.

  3. I like the look of it. It’s a good blend of 240Z with Jag F-Type styling. A bit of Audi A7 in the rear too. The rest of the formula is pretty compelling too. I think I mentioned it here at one point, wanting something like a BRZ/86 but with more power and refinement to land south of the Supra on price. This is that car. I will be watching closely.

  4. Recognizable as a Nissan, which is good, but – unusually – I think the rear end absolutely nails it. The front grille is too big – an industry issue, really – and the profile is a bit too much slabsided, as the car could be lower or just give off a slightly more compact impression. Cheering on a new Z anyway, yay!

    1. The large front grill is indeed an industry problem. I never liked the giant-maw Audis and now BMW has a bad case of the same disease. What I find particularly annoying is the fact that (on my 5 Series anyhow) that grill is largely non-functional. It is blocked off, for aerodynamic reasons, although BMW because of typical German over-engineering has put in sensors and a little electric motor to open the grill slots at low speeds to draw more air for the radiator.

      So: big grill causes too much aerodynamic drag.
      Solution: block off grill and make it purely cosmetic.
      So: blocked off grill doesn’t have enough air flow at low speeds.
      Solution: sensors, computer program, electric motors, special mechanism to open and close the grill.

      OR:

      Just design a smaller grill that is open all the time.

      But the guy who said that got fired.

      1. I never knew there was such a solution, that is, indeed, overengineering at its worst finest. In harsh environments, like mine consisting of nasty salt spray at least five months of the year, that is an exposed mechanism, too. Suppose BMW sees an opportunity to earn an easy 2-300$ for their dealerships a bit down the line…

        A counterargument is that even though I would prefer more rational design, the most rationally shaped vehicles rarely invoke much emotion or desire. My prime example will forever be this one, just because extremes do illustrate moderate points, too:

        https://parkers-images.bauersecure.com/Scale/pagefiles/189636/cut-out/450×300/suzuki_wagonr00.jpg

  5. Half of the upper ‘grille’ is a bumper bar. I wish companies would stop with the fake air openings that are blocked off. Especially when a key aspect of the 280z was the bumper splitting the upper and lower grilles

  6. Hard to tell exactly but it looks like it could be a facelift of a 370Z rather than all-new. The Z32 tail light panel looks out of place when everything else is so strongly 240Z.

      1. I’d rather change it entirely, also loose the black roof & rear window surround. The ‘diffuser’ that’s not a diffuser is too much as well.

        1. Yeah, I don’t really disagree with you. There’s too much on this car that I would change to call it a simple tweaking. I wish the rear of it was more “chopped off”, kammback-style, like the original 240Z. I don’t like the way the sides wrap around and the bottom wraps up.

  7. I feel like the rear fascia belongs on a different car than the rest (which is otherwise quite cohesive), although looking specifically at 240Z’s, I can see the inspiration (plus, I know they’re influenced by multiple generations of Z).

    Still, as much as I’m not in the market, it’s exciting, and I salute Nissan for continuing to try. More than anything, I hope they can keep the starting price point close to the 370Z, which is just an absolute bargain even if it’s a little crude. Now, I know this is too much to ask, but modern 510? Hell, a Nissan-badged Q50 with cloth seats?

    1. When has the Z ever been a bargain? It’s poor value compared to contemporary mustangs. I’d rather see something smaller and lighter like the IDx concept from a few years back

      1. If the current versions weren’t so archaic, it could be a 2 seat Mustang alternative (slightly lighter/smaller), but as it is, they’re not comparatively good for anything really. I’m optimistic this could be a step more refined interior than the Mustang with a price that undercuts the Supra. Not having the BMW baggage would be a plus too.

      2. Fair enough – in my defense, I fixate on Canadian pricing – up here, the Z starts around $30k as well, which is cheaper than a Miata, right at the same as a Toyota 86, and only slighly more than a base Mustang (which is less powerful and heavier).

  8. I think the most relevant critical statement from my perspective is that it gives a really weak impression. I feel that I should be either wowed or repulsed, and I’m neither. It’s just… ok. I love nothing about it, and the only parts I outright dislike are the headlights.

    Specifically, the profile is ok up top but a little too bottom-heavy, and the rocker panel treatment is generically derivative. Including the awful headlights, the front end is dull and uninspired. Out back are some not-unattractive tail lamps, but the entire rear looks as if it was pasted from some other car. Definitely not very 240Z-ish, more 300ZX-ish. It’s like a mix-and-match of the Z’s historical design elements without much consideration of their synergy.

    Literally anything would be an improvement over the 370Z, and this is better, but after the long wait and anticipation, it’s just so very anticlimactic. I’m a fan of the S30 but perhaps I just set my hopes too high.

  9. Initial impression? I quite like it. After staring at it for a bit? I still like it, but have a few quibbles.

    Visually, it’s too bottom heavy. I’d ditch the rocker extensions and de-emphasize the front spoiler, they both take away from the long/low aspect of the original and add chunkiness that doesn’t need to be there.

    I’d be nice to lower the beltline to make it less of a bunker inside; more glass is good.

    The headlights are probably my least favorite part, and would be the place to go retro with some round projectors and more of an original 240Z fender profile.

    Otherwise? I can dig it.

  10. Looks like I’m on the same page as a lot of the commentariat: I was hoping for something significantly visually lighter than the 350/370, but this remains pretty chunky. That is kinda the trend with modern cars in general though. The big rectangular grille feels awkwardly squared-off; I see where they got that in terms of inspiration from the S30, but it feels out of place with the rest of the car. I think maybe either a split of the grille a la 240Z would help, as caltemus said, or maybe a callback to the aero nose from the Fairlady ZG (which I didn’t know was a thing until just now, but which looks great). I’m torn on the rear — I like it, but I can’t help but see more S14 in the taillights than anything else. Not a bad look by any means, but it doesn’t seem to suit the otherwise neo-240Z styling (although I can see the argument that they’re echoing the Z32 300ZX).

    All in all, definite step up from the current 370, and I quite like the interior and the fact that they’re teasing this with a manual (as good as the Supra apparently is, especially after an emergency suspension retune, it looks to me like poor Toyota has been getting backhanded left and right, what with little Mazda announcing their own in-house I-6 and now Nissan showing the Z with a stick), but not the homerun I was kinda hoping for.

    1. The rectangular cutout grill works fine on the S30 because it slants back under the car. This one is almost vertical.

    2. The rectangular cutout grill works fine on the S30 because it slants back under the car. This one is almost vertical.

        1. That looks a bit more vertical than the stock S30, and is worse for it. I personally don’t like front spoilers on 240Zs, either. The new concept could benefit from a bumper (also missing on this racing version) to visually break up that big rectangle.

  11. I see a return to sanity in a few areas that many modern cars have run afoul of… normal size headlamps, low profile tires but not ridiculously so, body lines that flow, and a no fake vents. I don’t even mind the large grille so much, even though that is another modern design trend I don’t care for. This grille would look better if it stopped at the crease towards the bottom of the bumper. At least it’s not some weird shape like Toyota’s are. The back end is elegant, and I hope that top is glass. Two thumbs up.

  12. Oh man, I really like that. Sure the grill is a little too big as others have said, but that’s true for every car these days. Adding a divider or possibly chamfering the bottom corners and making the grill more trapezoidal would help. I like the headlights, they recall the original 240z while being their own modern thing.

    The side profile is absolutely brilliant. It has great fluidity of lines. I particularly like that beltline that seems to fade into being from the peak of the hood bulge, becoming more sharp and defined through the door, and fades away again into the rear fender.

    I wasn’t completely sure about the rear of the car a first, but the more I look at it the more I like it. It’s strong and butch. And that upward sweeping badge on the hatch. Classic.
    Honestly, I’ve been seriously thinking of buying a brand new car next year sometime. If the production version looks like this and it starts around 30 grand as the current model does, this would probably be what I’d get.

  13. Can’t say I “get” the blacked-out roof, but at least it has the right proportions for a sportscar. The interior is strong; it’s distinctive, but not overcomplicated. Looks like they got the shifter and handbrake right, as well as physical controls for HVAC and audio. I don’t see physical buttons for important things like stability and traction control, but this is just a prototype.

    The weak point is the front. They took the rounded rectangle motif a little too far in the grill. I cannot unsee the droopy-eyed headlights from a head-on angle.

  14. I see a return to sanity in a few areas that many modern cars have run afoul of… normal size headlamps, low profile tires but not ridiculously so, body lines that flow, and a no fake vents. I don’t even mind the large grille so much, even though that is another modern design trend I don’t care for. This grille would look better if it stopped at the crease towards the bottom of the bumper. At least it’s not some weird shape like Toyota’s are. The back end is elegant, and I hope that top is glass. Two thumbs up.

  15. S’alright, a bit like a Jag F-Type cosplaying as a 300ZX, but it’s not coming to Europe cos CO2. Booo! 🙁

        1. The real issue here is that economies of scale have grown so much. Volvo, a relatively small carmaker, used to have specific engines just for the tiny Italian marked alone to meet their national standards.

          Nissan could have gone budget in Europe with a standard I4 and surely sold some cars, too. Or, go all-in on “Europeness” and stuff a Leaf drivetrain into it. An EV sportscar would probably have gathered solid attention, at least, with sales a bit unpredictable?

          1. Yeah, although even non-hybrid I4s will have a hard time, it’s so stringent. Even city cars like the VW Up! have shaky business cases now.

            It’s not just going to hurt enthusiasts, it’s going to dramatically hurt European consumers by taking us so out of sync with the rest of the world, and probably for very little gain. It’s the same sort of smug thinking that ticks boxes, but led to dieselgate last time round.

          2. I read about the Up! example a while and just thought to myself that proposed legislation tends to get adjusted to real world issues.

          3. I hope… but I’m not optimistic. It’s pretty hard to push against the simplistic “cars are bad” narrative these days.

    1. If there’s anything that 2020 can teach us, it’s that everyone has to do their part as scripted by their betters. Even if it doesn’t change reality, it will change your heart for the better, and that’s what matters. Be Well.

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