That controversial mouth may not appear on the production model.
After revealing the Z Proto as a concept car to preview the next-generation Z sports car, Nissan hasn't done a great job keeping its plans for the vehicle a secret. Leaked photos from the factory revealed what appeared to be a more production-ready car with a throwback blue leather interior. Nissan initially promised the production version would look nearly identical to the Z Proto, but recent spy shots in Colorado prove otherwise.
The camouflaged prototype seen here shows some pretty significant changes up front, different from previous looks. Some enthusiasts were critical of the Z Proto's gaping grille, but Nissan may have a new design up its sleeve. Whereas the concept featured a massive one-piece rectangular mouth, this test mule now has a two-piece split grille.
Though this change isn't massive, it does eliminate the loudest criticism with the original Z Proto's design. If the camouflaged crossbar portion is indeed painted body color or even a contrasting gloss black, it will visually divide the grille, making it look smaller and less awkward from some angles. The grille opening appears to keep the same oval pattern as the concept, with the lower portion now housing a small black square (likely for the radar cruise control and other safety functions).
We couldn't spot any other major differences with this test mule compared to the Z Proto. Changing the grille may be Nissan's response to negative feedback, or it could be motivated by crash standards. Either way, we think the car looks cool and remains true enough to the concept.
Spotting this car out testing could signal that Nissan is getting close to revealing the production car. A recent rumor claims order books will open in November 2021, meaning deliveries could start in early 2022. We initially predicted the car would be called the 2021 Nissan 400Z, but it appears Nissan may just call it the "Z" with no numbers attached.