Nissan insists we should treat the Z Proto as a concept car, but everything about it screams “production-ready.” Either that or the Yokohama-based manufacturer just came up with what is probably the least daring concept car of all time.
Indeed, the Z Proto doesn’t look all that special. Unlike the 370Z it replaces, the design of the new model – dubbed to be called 400Z – seems to be more of a return to the Z line’s roots. The front end is somewhat reminiscent of the original 240Z, but it’s actually the rear that marks the biggest departure from the latest models, as it looks like a modern reinterpretation of the 300ZX. Frankly, it might just be the only slightly exciting thing to look at.
Yes, we are a bit underwhelmed by the Z Proto and would particularly like to have a word with whoever designed that perfectly rectangle front grille. However, if there is a proven way to make the experience in a sports car more exciting it’s to have its roof removed.
It’s too early to know whether Nissan will offer a convertible version of its next Z car or not, but rumors suggest it should. In the meantime, we have this virtual manipulation from X-Tomi to give us an idea of what it might look like. On the plus side, you get the open-top experience that can’t be replicated in a coupe no matter how many windows you open. On the other side, you lose one of the car’s greatest features, which is its side profile with that almost straight line sloping down from the roof’s apex.
However, the actual selling point of the 400Z when it will eventually come out is going to be the way it drives. The Japanese sports car is expected to offer 400 hp and a manual gearbox as standard, all sitting in a compact, lightweight package, making great handling a given. And with similar cars being harder and harder to find in today’s landscape, Nissan deserves all the encouragement it can get. Provided it does something about the shape of that grille.