News

New 2021 Nissan Z sports car launched with 400bhp

Nissan Z sports car has made its debut in New York, sporting a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard

Nissan's replacement for the 370Z has been revealed. Called the Nissan Z, it's the latest model in the Japanese brand’s long line of Z-branded sports cars, which stretches all the way back to 1969 with the original Datsun 240Z.

Designed to rival the likes of the Toyota Supra and the new BMW 2 Series Coupe, Nissan has so far only confirmed a North American launch for the newcomer, and based on what we heard from Nissan executives at the reveal of the Proto Z concept last year, a launch in Europe looks unlikely. 

It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, which produces 400bhp and 475Nm of torque. To put that another way, that’s 30 percent more power than the old 370Z and 31bhp more than its main rival, the new BMW M240i.

The engine sends drive to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a carbon-fibre driveshaft and an automatic rev-matching function. A nine-speed automatic is optional. 

Benchmarked against the old 370Z, engineers at Nissan have targeted handling improvements with enhanced body rigidity, larger diameter shock absorbers and new double wishbone front suspension with a steeper caster angle to aid straight-line stability. The front tyres are also wider, which Nissan says has helped increase cornering performance up to 13 percent.

There’s also a new electronically assisted power steering rack and, for the more expensive Z Performance model, a mechanical limited-slip differential. Automatic cars also get a drive mode selector with two modes called Standard and Sport. The latter winds up the steering weight and throttle response and introduces engine sound enhancement in the cabin. 

Like the Proto Z concept, the production-ready Nissan Z’s bodywork features a blend of styling cues that have been cherry-picked from the nameplate’s 52-year history.

Up front, the semicircular LED headlamp units and wide radiator grille harken back to the Japan-only 240ZG of the 1970s, with glass lenses over the headlamps and a slightly longer nose cone. The bonnet has the same V-shaped power bulge as the original car, too.

The new Z retains the same haunches around the C-pillars as Nissan’s most recent sports cars, the 350Z and 370Z. This low at the front, high at the back stance has been a signature styling feature of Nissan’s sports cars since the 240Z, and it’s a feature the brand’s designers have carried onto the new car.

The rear lights draw inspiration from the Z32 300ZX of the 80s and 90s, sharing similar slotted beam units and being housed in a near-identical rectangular frame that runs the width of the rear bumper.

The coupe’s door handles share their design with the 370Z’s, and there’s a “Z” badge fixed to the car’s C-pillar, just like it was on the 240Z.

However, the Nissan Z isn’t a complete nostalgia trip – there’s some proper aerodynamic engineering in its bodywork. Nissan says that the tiny rear spoiler creates enough downforce to mitigate rear end lift, while the front splitter has been designed using the knowledge gained from the GT-R’s development programme.

There’s nothing yesteryear about the car’s interior, either. Nissan has fitted an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a brand new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, with three customisable display modes. Nissan even sought the advice of Japanese racing legends, such as Tsugio Matsuda, when deciding on the layout of the Z’s cabin.

The steering wheel is designed to be ergonomic and retain some of the “vintage aesthetic” of the 240Z’s thin, non-airbag steering wheel. The seats are pieced together using lessons learned from the GT-R programme, to ensure good lateral support when cornering.

US buyers have a choice of three specifications, called Sport, Performance and Proto Spec. The first comes with 18-inch alloys, while the latter gets 19-inch wheels and the aforementioned limited-slip differential.

Proto Spec cars get exclusive yellow brake calipers, bronze-coloured 19-inch alloy wheels and model-specific leather seats with yellow accents. Production will also be limited to 240 units. Prices are yet to be confirmed.

What does the new Nissan Z have to beat? Check out our run-down of the best sports cars on sale now

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