A Single Line Nearly Ruined The Whole Nissan Z's Design

Sports Cars / Comments

The Z's exterior and interior designers talk us through the design inspiration.

In the run-up to the introduction of the all-new Nissan Z car, the Japanese firm is exploring the model's heritage.

This week Nissan is taking us on a trip down design memory lane by introducing the two men responsible for the new Z car's design: Naoyuki Ohkoshi and Takuya Yamashita.

Ohkoshi was in charge of the exterior, while Yamashita worked on the interior. Ohkoshi has been at Nissan since 1997, and his famous designs include the Infiniti QX60 and QX80. Yamashita only joined Nissan four years ago.

The exciting thing about the Z is that the design started as a global competition. Ohkoshi said they called on various design departments, including teams in Japan, China, the USA, and the UK. They received around 100 submissions, which were rendered in 3D. Following that, three designs made the finals and were made into clay models. Finally, the executives made a choice, and the winning design came from Japan. Then, the hard work started to finalize all the elements.

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After the exterior design was settled, Yamashita got to work on the interior. Initially, the new Z would have an updated interior based on the current 370Z's. Fortunately, Nissan's executives are all fans of the Z car and demanded the interior be just as new and exciting as the exterior.

It's pretty clear that the overall design of the new Z was inspired by previous models. According to Ohkoshi, he wanted the new Z to be instantly familiar to people. If you look at the history of the Z car, you'll see the design DNA of the original S30 240Z. The side profile is the most obvious homage to previous Z cars, but also had the hardest Z trait to integrate. Ohkoshi says that the "placement of the side character line that Irie-san alluded to in a previous interview was something that looks clean and simple, but dictated the whole flow of the car. If we adjusted it a bit, it meant we had to re-think other areas as well."

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On the inside, the new Z car uses the layout of the original car. In other words, three gauges at the top, the center air vents below that, and then the controls for the ventilation and audio system. "We wanted to retain this stacked layout in the Z because it's not found in many other cars," said Yamashita.

When asked what their favorite past Z cars are, they both named the original. Ohkoshi named the first Z (S30) his favorite, while the Z32 gets a special mention. "When I was about three years old, my father brought home a Nissan catalog. There was a yellow Z on the cover, I think it was an S30, actually. From then on, I started drawing cars, it was like a switch. When the 300ZX (Z32) came out, I was still in school. I remember being floored at the thought that such a design could come from Japan," said Ohkoshi.

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When Yamashita was young, his father drove a 300ZX, and he has been a fan ever since. "My drive to become an automotive designer was most likely due to the influence of my father and the Z. He also drove a Kenmeri Skyline (C110), but it was the Z I remember the most fondly. So, if you were to ask me which was my favorite Z, I would have to say it's a tie between the S30 and Z31," said Yamashita.

As for what part of the new design they're most proud of, Ohkoshi names the rear. According to him, it highlights the car's slope-backed roofline and gives it a solid stance. "It was quite a battle to pull this off, shedding and shifting millimeters. but, as I said, when you see it, you can't help but say, "That's a Z. No question."

Yamashita is fond of the view of the dashboard and instrument panel from the passenger side.

The all-new Z will be faster than its predecessor, using a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.

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