Nissan Z Proto: 5 Things We Learned From The Reveal

The Nissan Z Proto was finally revealed last night after weeks of subtle teases. In a livestreamed digital event that took place simultaneously between Nissan’s Japanese and USA HQ’s. During the reveal we learned more than few key bits of information.

This post is going to go over some of those stand out moments and facts that finally came to light during the reveal and some first impressions.

1. It is very much inspired by the 240Z.

Nissan Z Proto and 240Z

Nissan made it very clear that the this car would be all about paying homage to the original 240Z. Nods to the 240 were everywhere in the presentation and more so in the Z Proto’s styling.

One look at the Z Proto’s front end and that much becomes obvious. It is nearly impossible to look at the Nissan Z Proto’s air-dam and not think about the iconic arrow tipped front of the classic 240Z.

Nissan Z Proto top front view

The hood also carries the same “sword tip” raised lines that lead directly towards the tip of the front fascia. The headlight design can’t be ignored either. While they are definitely not round circles their shape invokes the lens cover mod that is so common on the classic 240Z.

Nissan Z Proto side view

Along the sides things get a bit more aggressive and bleed more into a modern aesthetic, which is bolstered by a strong hip-line. Beyond that are wide rear fenders which will no doubt be widened by the likes of Pandem.

Nissan Z Proto rear perspective view

That brings us to the rear of the car which again leans heavily on retro design with a modern take on the 240Z rear end. Though it should be noted that the taillights are inspired by those from the 300ZX.

I know I’m saying “240Z” a lot but it really appears that is exactly what Nissan is going for.

I have not completely formed an opinion on the exterior looks yet but so far I can say with certainty that I don’t hate it.

2. The Nissan Z Proto is NOT a concept car.

Nissan Z Proto front perspective view

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida stated flat out that the Z Proto is not a concept car. What you see here is “close to final” according to Uchida-san. Notice he didn’t attach a percentage figure to that remark. A wise move as I am sure there will be more than a few changes between the Z Proto and the production car.

If I had to wager a guess, I would say that there will likely be at least a few changes to the front and rear bumpers once regulators are through looking them over.

Personally, I am really hoping that the wheels seen here will make the final cut. Regardless, the important part is that the Z Proto’s shape, dimensions, and overall styling are all going to carry over to the production car.

Anyway, while this is not exactly a “what you see is what you get” situation, we’re close to that.

3. The turbos are coming back!

Nissan Z Proto front view

While I really liked the 350Z and 370Z, I was always a little disappointed that a turbo option was never offered. After all, the 300ZX twin-turbo is arguably a large part of what makes the Z car so legendary.

Well, it was confirmed during this reveal event that the next Z will in fact be offered with a twin-turbo V6 engine. This is something that will no doubt be welcomed by Z car fans and sports car enthusiasts in general. High-revving naturally aspirated engines are great but there is just something about a turbo that speaks to the Japanese sports car enthusiast.

4. It will have a manual transmission!

Nissan Z Proto manual transmission

To be fair this bit of information actually came out in a teaser before the official reveal but hey it’s still important! In an age where modern sports cars are moving more towards faster, more efficient electronic sequential shifting, the purity of rowing through the gears manually was in danger of being lost.

It was pretty shocking to many when it was revealed that the A90 Supra would not have a manual transmission option; so I think there was a collective sigh of relief among enthusiasts when Nissan confirmed that the next Z will have an option for a good ol’ manual.

However, it is almost certain that an automatic sport-shift option will be available as well. Hopefully that offering will be a dual-clutch unit.

5. It will be the most powerful Z car produced by Nissan.

Nissan Z Proto

Each new generation Z car always had a more powerful engine than its predecessor and there is no reason to think that would be any different with this car. Especially considering the fact that the new Z will have turbos.

How weird would it be for a twin-turbo V6 Z car to have less horsepower than the naturally aspirated car that came before it? Nissan hasn’t said specifically how much power the next Z car will have, but most are guessing 400 horsepower or more.

I am not very sure about the “or more” part though. I think Nissan will aim right at a nice round number like 400.

There we have it! The 5 biggest takeaways from the Nissan Z Proto reveal yesterday. It is a decent amount of information but admittedly there is still plenty we do not know. Expect follow up post about that later.

For now, you can check out a ton of pictures and video of the Nissan Z Proto below as well as the official press release from Nissan.

Afterwards, let us know what you think about the Nissan Z Proto in the comments below or tweet to us at @MotorworldHype.

Nissan Z Proto reveal video

Nissan Z Proto photo gallery

Nissan Z Proto press release

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The new Z is coming.

Nissan has unveiled the Z Proto, signalling the company’s intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. Shown at an event beamed around the world from the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan, the prototype features new design inside and out, as well as an upgraded powertrain with a manual transmission.

In Franklin, just south of Nashville, hundreds of Z owners and enthusiasts watched the Z Proto’s Yokohama debut on big screens from their vehicles in a socially distanced event– part of a weeklong schedule of activities during the 33rd annual International Z Convention (ZCON).

First hinted at in a brand teaser video, “Nissan A-Z,” shown in May, the Nissan Z Proto pays full respect to 50 years of Z heritage. At the same time, it’s a thoroughly modern sports car.

“The Z represents the joy of driving in its purest form and has helped shape Nissan’s DNA as a passionate, innovative challenger,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. “Ever since the first generation, it has captured the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. That’s why we’re so excited today to be able to say to them: Yes, the next one is coming!”

Z Proto is one of 10 new vehicles that Nissan is showing for the U.S. in 20 months, along with top-sellers like Sentra and Rogue, and innovative new models like the all-electric Ariya crossover.

“The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model’s 50-year history,” said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales. “With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms.”

Z Proto exterior: past meets future

Sporting a bright yellow pearlescent paint – a tribute to a popular paint scheme on both the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX – the Z Proto boasts a fresh, attractive exterior design with a silhouette that communicates respect to the original model.

Using a theme that combines elements of previous generations while also projecting futurism was challenging, said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan.

“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 shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Z. The rectangular grille dimensions are similar to the current model, although the grille fins nod to the past. The form continues to exude both sportiness and elegance.

“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.”

The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the Z Proto from the side. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture. The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect.

The rear takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights, reinterpreted for the modern world. Set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, the LED taillights convey a sharp glow.

Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance ensure nimble performance. 19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto’s striking road presence.

Z Proto interior: modern tech with a vintage touch

Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto’s cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches.

The interior design team sought advice from professional motorsports legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track. This can be seen in the Z’s instrumentation. All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the twelve o-clock position.

The new, deep dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic.

Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature special accent piping and layered seat material to create depth.

Sports car joy: an exhilarating, dynamic performer

The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible.

“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 Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the Z Proto. “This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm.”

Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.

“Z is more than just powerful and agile,” Tamura continued. “It is designed to create a connection with the driver, for the car to be a ‘dance partner’ for their on-road adventures.”

Make no mistake though, the Z Proto packs a powerful punch. Under the elongated hood is an enhanced V6 twin-turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As a prototype, work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.

“Nissan is transforming its business,” said Uchida. “This summer, we unveiled the ground breaking all-electric Nissan Ariya crossover, which represents the future of mobility. Even as we open this new chapter, the Z, its heritage and passion, express who we are and has been shaping our DNA for over fifty years.”

About ZCON
The Z Car Club Association (ZCCA) is hosting current Datsun and Nissan Z car owners from around the world for its annual International Z Car Convention. The event runs from Sept. 14 through 19 in Franklin, home of Nissan North America headquarters. This year’s ZCON is expected to draw a large number of participants as the association celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Datsun 240Z’s original model year.

For more information on the 2020 Nashville ZCON, please visit

To find out more about the Z Proto, 2020 Nissan 370Z and the rest of the Nissan lineup, please visit

Nissan Z Proto Specifications

Z Proto specifications*

Engine V6 twin turbo
Transmission 6-speed manual
(an automatic option is also in development)
Length 172.5 inches
Width 72.8 inches
Height 51.6 inches
Wheel and tire size Front: 255/40R19
Rear: 285/35R19

* Z Proto is a development study vehicle and does not confirm or reflect production model specifications.

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