Could this be the Nismo we're hoping for?
Like a breath of fresh air, the 2023 Nissan Z has hit the scene and injected a healthy dose of excitement into a landscape dominated by crossovers and SUVs. Priced from $39,990, few vehicles provide so much bang for your buck. Under the 240Z-inspired hood, there lives a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. There's even a manual gearbox for those who prefer to row through the gears.
But for some, this won't be enough - and Nissan knows this. In an interview with The Drive, Nissan's director of advanced product planning and strategy, Paul Hawson, alluded to the fact that a more powerful variant of the Z car may be in the cards. "[The Nissan Z] can handle more [power]," said Hawson, before pointing out that some customers will most certainly crave more muscle.
"Let's just say we know that customer, and we try to address that customer's needs," he remarked. "[There are] people that want to keep it stock forever - you know some of those people, I have friends like that - and then there are other people that are more like me, that are tuning crazy," he added.
Is it possible that the Nissan exec is hinting at a potential Nismo-tuned Z car? After all, we've already seen slightly altered variants of the Z car testing in Los Angeles, leading us to believe a hotted-up version is on the way. Of course, Hawson cannot speculate on this in an official capacity, so we're not sure what the company's approach would be.
Hopefully, Nissan will introduce a Nismo-branded Z car as a halo model. But there's also a chance that the company will just introduce more performance accessories and enhancements for the existing car.
If Hawson's comments are anything to go by, we're guessing the automaker will lean towards introducing a more hardcore variant. "Nissan needs to make a statement," he said. For many years, the brand has been criticized for offering a stale and aging lineup. Products such as the Z car aim to turn the company's lackluster image around.
Clearly passionate about exciting cars, Hawson said he hopes the Z can help rekindle the world's love affair with sports cars. "Hopefully, our next generation can fall in love with cars again ... there aren't many of us left. You know what 'us' means. Car lovers."
The Nissan executive may not have confirmed that a Nismo Z is on the way, but it's clear to see that something more exciting is on the way.
So, what could we expect from the hypothetical (for now) Nismo Z? Well, as Hawson said, the coupe can handle more than 400 hp. Being conservative, we'd expect around 450 horses under the hood, along with revised suspension and braking to rein in the added potency. Perhaps we'll even see a weight reduction in the form of lightened body panels and fewer luxuries.
We've previously caught a glimpse of the Nissan Z testing on a racetrack, with several aesthetic enhancements. Aside from the large rear wing, the GR Supra rival appeared to have more prominent side skirts and different front fenders. This could be in preparation for a future race-ready model, but it may also serve as our first glimpse into the would-be Nismo's beefier styling.