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The Nissan Z Proto Has Some Retro Styling And A Manual Shifter

Nissan has made some of the world’s most iconic monickers like the Skyline, the GT-R, the Leaf EV and the Z Series sports cars. In recent times, the Japanese carmaker has been somewhat inactive in its most exciting department and instead focussing on volume segment crossovers. The R35 and the 370Z have been around for over a decade now and while both have been given minor updates, we need the new generation of JDM legends. It seems Nissan hasn’t given up on their sports heritage either and seems to be working on a new Z series model and here’s our first teaser for it – the Z Proto concept.

Its design is immediately reminiscent of the Z heritage, going all the way back to the original 240Z or Fairlady Z as it was known in Japan. That’s a very good thing since the 240Z is still one of the prettiest sports cars ever made. The Z Proto is the work of Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso Albaisa.

“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” Albaisa said. “Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future.”

Overall, the Z Proto is a very promising concept as it is very pretty and doesn’t look too far-fetched. Those teardrop headlamps with the two half circles feel very Japanese and appeal to my inner weeb while the rear end design is a futuristic take on the 300ZX. That blacked-out section that houses the taillamps looks quite elegant while the dual exit exhaust looks suitably sporty for a Z model. In profile, the bonnet line looks more like the twenty-first-century models while the tapering roofline and short rear end seem inspired by the first-generation Z. Those 19-inch wheels look fabulously tuner-spec with the Nissan Z lettering along. There are a few bits of visible carbon fibre as well which seem a segment pre-requisite to convey its sportiness. The Z Proto in its pearlescent yellow paint has plenty of road presence too.

But like everything Nissan these days, they seemed to have messed up one thing. That geometrical blacked-out grille that makes it look like it’s wearing a fake moustache to sneak past the pub bouncer. I understand that some tuner models have an exposed intercooler that gives their front fascia a similar shape but they’re usually silver. Even worse, it looks like the grimey grin of someone who just fell face-first into some post-rain earth. This black grille is even more noticeable in contrast to the bright paintwork. However, this could be an easy fix before the design is finalised for the production-spec model or it could also be a new avenue of must-have Nissan body customisations.

The cabin of the Z Proto has a satisfyingly simple design with just enough modern technology, a triplet of boost and pressure gauges atop the centre of the dashboard, and the lovely rounded gearknob for the 6-speed manual transmission. It has a rounded steering wheel with the usual array of controls (equal parts useful and annoying) and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s instrument cluster behind it. There’s another screen by way of the infotainment system while the climate controls are a familiarly analogue dial setup beneath it. An interesting detail that caught my eye is that the front-side air vents are positioned on the doors instead of the dashboard.

We don’t have any performance ratings for the Z Proto but Nissan did confirm that it will be powered by a twin-turbo V6 to drive the rear wheels only. Given its likely rivals, the new Nissan sportscar should offer at least 350bhp. Combined with the traditional handbrake and a manual shifter, the new-gen Z should be drifty right off the showroom floor.

What are your thoughts on the new Nissan Z Proto? Which one is your favourite Nissan Z series model to date? For me, it’s a toss-up between the first-gen Fairlady Z and the custom-built FuguZ. Share your answers in the comments below the gallery and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.

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