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The production Nissan 400Z is at least two years away

By Scott Newman, 17 Sep 2020 News

Datsun 240Z parked with Nissan 400Z Prototype.

Don't expect the real Nissan 400Z before 2022

The excitement surrounding the Nissan 400Z Prototype reveal has been somewhat stymied but the revelation that the production car is still at least two years away.

Nissan’s chief product specialist for sports cars, Hiroshi Tamura, wouldn’t be drawn on an exact release date but told media that the production Z debut would be: “Not so far, but not so easy. If I can give you an extra hint, you have to check about GT-R Proto and then GT-R releasing point.”

Nissan first released a GT-R Concept at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show but the R35 GT-R Proto appeared at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, with the production version breaking cover at the same show exactly two years later.

Nissan R35 GT-R prototype revealed at 2005 Tokyo Motor Show.
This suggests the production version of the Z Prototype - expected to be called 400Z but Tamura says a name has not yet been chosen - will appear in the second half of 2022. If it follows the precedent set by the R35, Japanese deliveries will commence later that year with international launches taking place throughout 2023.

One market that won’t see the Z at all is Europe, falling sports car demand and increasingly stringent emissions regulations making it unviable.

The decision to create another generation of the iconic Nissan Z car came in March 2017 following “One paper I wrote for internal company executives,” explains Tamura. “Officially that is not Nissan standard, to be honest, we need different type of process for normal car. I just wrote one page by pencil and showed it to internal audience.”

Nissan 400Z Prototype styling by Alfonso Albaisa.Just what platform will underpin the new Z is a question for “the product development stage” according to Tamura. “What sort of platform do we need for the appropriate performance? Z platform of appropriate level is already existing but not completely the same, some parts modify, some parts carryover because we don’t have many platforms.”

Reading between the lines, we’d speculate that the 400Z will use an updated version of the FM (Front-Midship) platform that sits beneath beneath the 370Z and Infiniti Q60, the latter’s 298kW/475Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 (VR30DDTT) expected to provide the power.

The installation of a twin-turbo engine will be music to the ears of aftermarket tuners, but perhaps surprisingly no electrified option is currently on the table. “We considered some EV solution,” explains Tamura, “But for business model, performance level, customer voice we selected this single direction.

Nissan chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura with Nissan R35 GT-R.“Today’s answer is V6 twin-turbo manual, of course AT (automatic) is a must-have. After that, if customer requested some EV or some soft of hybrid system we have to do that. Final goal is how to make satisfaction for the customer.”

Tamura admits some will see a manual, rear-drive, purely-ICE (internal combustion engine) coupe as old-fashioned: “Some people say it’s old but I think it’s old and new. Front engine, rear traction is fundamental attitude of sports car scene.” Nissan states that 35 per cent of current Z sales are still with a manual gearbox.

Nissan 400Z Prototype uses a twin-turbo V6 engine.Despite a hefty increase in power, cohesive balance remains the development focus for the 400Z rather than outright grunt. “300hp, 400hp, 500hp, it doesn’t matter,” says Tamura. “Don’t mislead me, I love giant power, but more important is how to balance this power.

“Even just 200hp, if chassis or brake system or body construction is weak, you are very scared of using this power. That’s why I believe number itself is not so important; how to install within the vehicle is important approach for Nissan DNA."