Zed lives, baby: Nissan reveals first look at new sports car

The 2020 Nissan Z Proto

After months of teasing Nissan has finally revealed the long-awaited replacement for the 370Z.

Officially this is the Z Proto, a prototype forerunner for the production version due to launch in 2021, but this is a clear indication of what we can expect.

While Nissan has announced a major overhaul of its product range, including cutting underperforming models and putting more emphasis on its electric vehicles, the brand also vowed to maintain its sports cars; both the Zed and GT-R.

COMING SOON: The new Nissan Zed

The 2020 Nissan Z Proto

“The Z, as a pure sports car, represents the spirit of Nissan,” explained Nissan CEO, Makoto Uchida. “It’s a key model in our Nissan NEXT transformation plan, and it’s proof of our ability to do what others don’t dare to do, from A to Z. As a Z fan myself, I’m excited to announce that the next Z is coming.”

GALLERY: 2020 Nissan Z Proto

The Z Proto clearly takes inspiration from across each generation of the Zed car, while also pointing to its future. The styling was led by Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso Albaisa, at the company’s Japanese design studio.

Elements from the 240ZG, 300ZX and the current 370Z were all woven into the new design. The Proto is finished in a two-tone paint scheme, with the yellow body and black roof designed to hark bark to the original ‘S30’ Zed.

The 2020 Nissan Z Proto

“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.”

“The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s,” Albaisa explained. “The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z’s identity.”

FIRST LOOK: Nissan teases new Zed

The 2020 Nissan Z Proto

But looking the part is only half the challenge for the new Zed – tipped to carry the 400Z badge – with performance also key to ensuring it lives up to its legacy.

To that end, Nissan has confirmed that the new Zed will, as expected, be powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine. It also confirmed that, despite a shrinking demand among most buyers,

Nissan will continue to cater to sports car purists and offer the Zed with a six-speed manual transmission. It hasn’t said if a two-pedal option will be available on the production car, but it’s likely.

The 2020 Nissan Z Proto

“The Z has always been a strong dynamic performer, making it easy for customers to enjoy its capabilities and feel as connected as possible to the car,” said chief product specialist of the Z Proto, Hiroshi Tamura. “This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm.”

Nissan hasn’t confirmed a date for the launch of the production-ready Zed, but it’s likely to arrive early in 2021.

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