Nissan are preparing their sixth generation of the Z-line. Replacing the current 350Z after seven years of production, the next Nissan sportscar is expected to be launched in the year 2009. Carrying the 40-year tradition of the Z-cars, the new model will be lighter, more powerful and therefore a lot faster.
The first Z was launched in 1969, when Nissan was still called Datsun. Named 240Z in , the sportscar was known as “Fairlady” in and US. Ever since, Nissan’s Z was the symbol of high-performance, all the cars wearing it being considered a competitor for the Porsches of that time.
The latest Z model still in production is the 350Z. Launched in august 2002, it was the car to rehabilitate the Z-tag after the assembly of the 300Z stopped due to poor sales in the late 90’s. Offered as both a coupe and a roadster the 350Z proved to be a success, and sales are still good, after four years of fabrication. Probably by 2009, the situation will no longer be the same, as the car will have grown old by then. At that time, a new model will come to carry further the Z-badge.
Wearing the internal code Z34, the new sportscar is expected to be called 400Z, as the engine displacement will probably have to grow up to 4-liters in order to keep up with the competition. All Z-models up until now had 6-cylinder engines. The first generations were straight-6es and the rest used a “V” configuration. Following the Z tradition, the 400z should feature a V6, but six cylinders are not enough for such a large displacement. Usually 4-liter engines are V8’s and Nissan is very likely to switch to that;
Nissan design sketch
although such a choice should make the car a lot more expensive.
Another possibility is to maintain the current 3.5-liter displacement and offer some big turbos to boost the power. While less elegant and refined, this second choice would be cheaper. We should also consider that by then, Nissan will have another turbocharged coupe in the line-up, the new Skyline. This is why we consider that the V8 400Z is more probable. Either way, mated with the engine will be a refreshed 6-speed manual gearbox.
The design will not be a revolution in comparison with the current 350Z, but it will be more grown-up and better put together. Our artist has prepared a few illustrations for show that provide a possible direction for the design of the 2009 400Z. General proportions will be the same, but the car is expected to grow a bit in all directions in order to increase interior room. One of the major points of criticism for the current 350 Z was that it was too heavy and therefore provided too much inertia. By 2009, Nissan will consider changing that by using light materials in the construction of their new sportscar.
The coupe is most likely to be launched in 2009, and the roadster is expected to follow 2 years later. Prices are expected to range between $30,000 and $40,000.
The Z-car that will be replaced by the 2009 400Z is the currently producing 350Z. Launched in 2002 as a coupe, it was also made available in 2004 as a roadster. For 2006, the dramatic Nissan 350Z sports car receives its first comprehensive updating since its introduction in the market in August 2002. The changes to the Z, which has sold over 100,000 units in its first three years, include a revised front end appearance, enhanced interior, LED taillights, a new vehicle speed-sensitive power steering system, refined optional navigation system and available RAYS super lightweight 18-inch front/19-inch rear 5-spoke forged alloy wheels (Coupe only.
A new Grand Touring Coupe model featuring the 18/19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, front and rear spoiler and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) has been added to the model lineup and all 6-speed manual transmission models now receive the 300-horsepower* tuning of the Z’s standard 3.5-liter DOHC V6. Models equipped with the 5-speed automatic transmission are rated at 287 horsepower.
For 2006, the 350Z is again available in Coupe and Roadster body styles and in an array of models – five for the Coupe and three for the Roadster. Each provides sports car lovers high performance excitement and dynamic driving experience, with a style all its own. Other enhancements for the new model year include standard 18-inch cast aluminum-alloy wheels (except Coupe Track and Grand Touring models), increased brake rotor size for non-Brembo models, standard bi-xenon (low and high beam) headlights, and mp3-CD capability for the available Bose audio system.
Three new exterior colors are available for 2006: Silver Alloy, Magnetic Black, and Interlagos Fire.
The 350Z Coupe and 350Z Roadster share their proud performance heritage, including state-of-the-art platform, engine, suspension and braking systems. The Z’s FM (Front Mid-Ship) platform positions the engine behind the front axle, providing an optimized front-to-rear weight balance of 53/47. The FM platform, derived from racing technology, also places a strong emphasis on aerodynamics, especially on the control of airflow under the body.
The heart and soul of the Z, since the original 1970 model, is its engine. Again for 2006, every 350Z offers a standard 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 engine, which delivers not only outstanding start-off acceleration and high-speed passing performance, but also torque characteristics suitable for city driving. The engine utilizes an advanced intake port design and Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) technology. Drivability has been further improved by adopting an electronically controlled “drive-by-wire” throttle and the use of a highly rigid cylinder block.
More information on the 2006 Nissan 350Z is available here.
The Nissan 400Z will have to compete against the RX-8 Mazda of 2009. After almost eight years of production, the highly successful Mazda RX-8 will be reinvented in a completely new model. The original 2+2 doors coupe is expected to come with an all-new skin and refreshed “Zoom-Zoom” design in 2009. The dynamics are guaranteed to be better than ever for an RX model, featuring the latest generation of Mazda’s exotic Wankel rotary engine.
The original RX-8 was launched in 2001 and was intended as a successor for the RX-7. The later was previously produced in not less than three distinct generations and was a high performance 2+2 seats coupe. The most exclusive component used for the RX-7 was it’s unique (Mazda is the only current Wankel engine producer) rotary engine, that made the car light and fast. After sales for the RX-7 dropped in the late ‘90s, Mazda decided to revive their performance coupe and dropped the RX-7 denomination in favor of the “RX-8” tag. This change was intended to point that the new model was a revolution and a total departure from the previous RXs. It featured four doors, the two smaller rears ones were “suicide doors”.
This two plus two suicide doors layout has proved to be highly successful. It eases rear access, but doesn’t compromise much the “coupe styling”. This successful recipe will be preserved for the second RX-8 that will be an evolution of the current model.
According to a recent survey performed by a major research organization, Mazda’s new-car customers are the second youngest in North America, at only 41 years of age.
A complete preview of the 2009 Mazda RX-8 can be found here.
2007 BMW Z4 Coupe
Another performance coupe, in this range is the BMW Z4 coupe. The fascination was there at first sight, now it is confirmed by the driving experience. The BMW Z4 Coupe lines up to inspire the friends of twoseater sports-cars. Already introduced at the 2005 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW Z4 Coupe could wake up emotions, desirability and high expectations.
In 2003, BMW launched an all-new 2-seater sports car, the Z4 Roadster. The Z4 lineup offered a pair of models, each powered by a version of BMW’s famously smooth and sonorous inline 6-cylinder engine. Firmly planted suspension, standard run-flat performance tires and state-of-the-art stability electronics were anchored in a remarkably rigid Roadster body/chassis structure; all of this was clothed in a unique and captivating look. Inside, the driver could enjoy the Z4’s innate sportiness while also savoring extensive comfort and convenience features as well as innovative design and materials.
For 2006, the Z4 has undergone its first major evolution. Heading an extensive list of updates and improvements are all-new, more powerful engines; 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions available on all models; more powerful brakes, standard 17-in. wheels and tires across the board, and a more advanced Dynamic Stability Control system. Along with all this driving-oriented progress, design and materials refinements inside and out enhance both aesthetics and function.
And now, still within the 2006 model year, the Z4 acquires a new family member: the Z4 Coupe 3.0si. As the Series‘ first closed-body model, the new Coupe encloses its two seats and a larger cargo area in a graceful fastback body that retains the Z4’s unique aesthetic character while looking expressively new. With this addition, the Z4 lineup now consists of three models: Z4 Roadster 3.0i at $36,295 including destination as the “base“ variant; Z4 Roadster 3.0si at $42,795 with higher performance and other increments of technology and features; and the new Z4 Coupe 3.0si, which shares its performance and equipment level with the Roadster 3.0si. The Coupe has a base price of $40,795 including destination charge; like the Roadsters it is produced at BMW’s newly configured and updated production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Production of the Coupe begins on May 1, 2006.
Comprehensive information regarding the 2007 BMW Z4 is available here.