It's finally coming, but what should it be like?
The Nissan 370Z has been on sale in the US since the 2009 model year, which is an eternity in car years. We've repearedly asked Nissan what the next Z car will be like and the automaker seems to be open to suggestions with everything from a hybrid drivetrain to an electric motor being considered.
We finally received some concrete evidence that Nissan is indeed working on a new Z car in the form of a test mule being driven around the Nurburgring. With the first signs of an all-new Z car finally arriving, we thought it would be a good time to discuss our thoughts on what Nissan should do for the next-generation model.
One of our favorite elements of the current 370Z has nothing to do with how it drives. The 370Z (and its predecessors) have used a hatchback layout, which provides more storage space than most two-seat sports cars. Practicality may seem like a low priority for a sports car but having an unusable trunk may turn off potential buyers who have moved over to SUVs. We hope Nissan keeps the 370Z's practicality and overall livability as a daily driver.
The 370Z may be old, but it still sells well due to its affordable starting price of $30,090. This is nearly $20,000 less than you will pay for the least expensive 2020 Toyota Supra, although the Supra is by far the quicker and superior car. Pricing for the next-generation Z will depend on several factors, like what engine it has under the hood, but we'd at least like to see an "entry-level" version priced at or below the $30,000 mark.
We were never fans of the 370Z convertible. It didn't drive as well as the coupe and we thought the convertible top ruined the lines of the car. It was also slower and more expensive. For the next generation, we would be happy if Nissan saved money on development costs by only building a coupe and forgoing the convertible all together. Developing both body styles would be expensive and convertible sales have hit a slump in recent years anyway.
No matter what Nissan decides to use under the hood of the next Z car, we want it to remain a driver's car. But what exactly is meant by "driver's car?" Any car can be fast, but if it isn't engaging to drive, why bother? As an example, a Toyota Camry V6 may be quicker in a straight line, but a Mazda Miata is still more engaging. Specifically, we want the next Z car to retain its steering feel and continue to be sold with a manual transmission, even if there is also an automatic option.
The current 3.7-liter V6 is already quite potent with 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft, but it is outclassed by its turbocharged contemporaries. We hope Nissan decides to go with a turbocharged powerplant like the 3.0-liter unit used in the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, where it produces 400 hp. But the next Z car doesn't necessarily have to produce more power than the current car.
If Nissan was able to price it near the higher end of the Miata lineup (around $30,000 to $35,000), we'd be content with around 250-300 hp from a turbocharged four-pot. But it has long been part of the Z car formula, we'd at least like to see an optional six-cylinder engine producing around 400 hp.
Building a sports car in this day and age isn't easy, which is why Toyota partnered with BMW to build the Supra. Nissan has said it would be open to outside help to build the next Z car, but which automaker would be best? BMW is likely off the table, but what about Jaguar or Mercedes? Both companies now build inline-six engines, which would allow Nissan to go back to the Z's roots. Using a partner would certainly cut development costs and ensure that the next Z feels like a proper sports car.