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Nissan Z Proto: A Modern Manual Sports Car

The 7th Generation Nissan Z Car is Coming Soon!

Nissan Z Proto

The first all-new Z car out of Nissan in 12 years, the Nissan Z Proto is a look at what we can expect out of the 7th generation Nissan Z Car. Nissan promises; “The new Z is coming” and “The look of this is near final.” While the Z Proto is just a concept car, it sounds like it is VERY close to what we can expect to roll off the production line next year.

Nissan Z badge

The key to what we know so far is that it looks amazing, drawing on more than 50 years of Z car heritage as well as the modern Nissan design aesthetic. We also know that we’re going to get a twin-turbo V6 backed by a 6-speed manual transmission. Yes, finally a new sports car launch with a manual transmission!

(Check out every manual transmission car in 2020 HERE.)

Nissan Z Proto on road

“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. Over 1.8 million Z cars have been sold worldwide, but the U.S. market is where the Nissan Z cars have found the most sales success.

Nissan Z Proto hood

Nissan Z Proto Design

We really love the looks of what Nissan did with this latest Z car design. With that said, it has hints of Miata (front end), Mustang (rear end), and Supra (side profile). Of course, the car also pulls elements from the six previous generations and over 50-years of the Z car. The iconic hood bulge, long hood, and scooped out headlamps are elements of that Z car DNA.

Nissan Z Proto headlight

Even the color of the Nissan Z Proto harkens back to the past while looking into the future. The bright yellow pearlescent paint is “a tribute to a popular paint scheme on both the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX.” Instead of muting the color like in previous cars, however, Nissan used modern paint technologies to make the paint super bright.

Nissan Z Proto

One of the coolest new Z car design elements is the “katana” blade design that defines the roofline. It is one of the only metal color accents on the entire car, and helps separate the floating black roof from the bright yellow body.

Nissan Z Proto interior

Inside the car is very much a super updated Nissan Z car. The three gauge cluster on the dash is super sporty. The interior door handles are the traditional hoop style, but look plastic and cheap like they feel on the current 370Z. A 12.3-inch digital dash screen has an analog-style tach front and center. The Alcantara, accent stitched, and heavily bolstered seats look like a perfect match for this sporty little two-seater.

Another great feature, lacking on most modern cars, is a proper handbrake, versus an electronic one. How much fun is this thing going to be in a snowy parking?!

Nissan Z Proto interior

Nissan Z Car Performance

Nissan, and us, are excited that the Z Proto, and the next Nissan Z car, will be offered with a 6-speed manual transmission. Of course, an automatic version is also in development, and we are confident will be available when this car goes to production. In a two-seat sports car we are excited to row our own gears, and not just click some flappy paddles on the steering wheel.

We know that the new Z will come with a twin-turbo V6 powerplant. Nissan also hinted heavily at an electrified version of the Z as well, but didn’t elaborate on what that might look like.

Fairlady Z Proto

Nissan Z Proto Specs

  • Length: 172.5 inches
  • Width: 72.8 inches
  • Height: 51.6 inches
  • Wheel & Tire Size: Front: 255/40R19, Rear: 285/35R19

Nissan Z Proto

We’re Excited!

What we don’t know is timing, pricing, or performance numbers. We are hopeful that we’ll appreciate all of the above, as the Z Proto is a truly impressive development vehicle. Our guess is that the new Z car will hit U.S. dealers in 2021 and be called the 400Z. Fingers crossed the price is right!

1969 Fairlady Z and Nissan Z Proto
1969 Fairlady Z and Nissan Z Proto

Bryon Dorr
About Bryon Dorr

AutoWise Editor-in-Chief Bryon Dorr has been a lifelong automotive enthusiast. From the supercar posters on his childhood walls to the massive Hot Wheels/Matchbox collection, Bryon has been dreaming about automotive adventures his entire life. For the past decade+ Bryon has pursued a career in automotive photography and journalism. He's worked for a wide range of the top outlets in the overland, off-road, adventure motorcycle, and general automotive media. His current household automotive quiver includes a custom overland 2013 GX460, a 2020 Ioniq Electric, and a 2006 KTM 950 Adv. He recently sold his 996TT, and is on the hunt for a new performance car.