When the Nissan Z-car returned in the 2003 model year, Z enthusiasts everywhere rejoiced at the potential of this stylish machine. Even though it was not as powerful or as fast as they had expected, it was still loaded with potential. Well, over the years, enthusiasts became tired of the Z and this resulted in a mild sales fizzle when the 370Z came about. As of the 2012 model year, that fizzle has turned into lackluster sales.
Rumors are pointing to the fact that the Z-car is heading back to its roots. For those that remember, the Z-car was not a powerful machine in its infancy. It was more known for being a lightweight car that had an optimal power-to-weight ratio and precision handling. The current 370Z is anything but like the original, and according to Nissan design boss, Shiro Nakamura, the new Z-car will better reflect the past Z-cars and live up to its legend. We should even be seeing a concept car for this redesigned Z-car soon.
So, how will this car actually stack up? With the little bit of information we have and some speculation, we can give you at least a good idea on what to expect.
Click past the jump to read our full, and constantly growing, review on the upcoming Z-car.
All images are of the current generation Nissan 370Z.
gallery: Nissan 370Z
According to Nakamura, the new Z is still in preliminary design phase, so we have no real idea of exactly how it will look. We do know that the goal for the 2015 Nissan Z is to create a sleeker body that is significantly lighter than the current model, which weighs in at 3,283 lbs, when equipped with an automatic trans.
We anticipate seeing the usage of more aluminum or carbon fiber to drop the overall curb weight into the 2,800-pound range. We also expect to see a car that is a few inches shorter than the current 167.2 inches, while retaining its 100-inch wheelbase, giving it better stability.
For now, all we can do is speculate on the outside, but we do know that the 2015 Z will be sleeker and lighter than the current model.
For the interior, we will have to wait until Nissan starts dropping a little bit of information, as your guess is as good as ours right now. You can expect the typical luxuries though, including navigation, premium stereo system, leather interior, etc.
The 370Z’s suspension is good for its weight, and really performs well. We expect to see much of the same from the new Z. The only difference will be the fact that the new Z and its lightweight body will likely not produce as smooth as a ride as the current 370 Z. Then again, if you’re buying a sports car, you expect to have your intestines thrashed around a bit from harsh suspension.
We will update you more on the suspension as it becomes available.
Engine and Drivetrain
The engine is the one thing that Nakamura pointed to as needing changed, as the 3.7-liter V-6 just isn’t cutting it. Sure, it’s pumping out a healthy 332 ponies, but its 270 pound-feet of torque leave a little to be desired. The 370Z can hit 60 mph in 5.1 seconds on a good day, but modern sports cars are almost all in the sub-5-second range. Moreover, the 18 to 19 mpg city and 25 to 26 mpg highway is really dragging Nissan down in the CAFÉ regulations.
Because of all of these shortcomings in the engine – if you can call them that – Nakamura alluded to the possibility of the 2015 Z bearing a turbocharged 4-pot engine. The most likely engine of choice, if Nissan stays in-house with the engine, will be the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder plant powering the current Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V. Without the aid of boost, this engine pumps out a respectable 200 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Strap on some boost and this engine can easily hit 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet, while saving hundreds of pounds over the V-6.
There is also the possibility of Nissan using its partnership with Daimler to source an engine, but Mercedes’ 4-cylinder turbo engines are pretty lackluster, to say the least. If Nissan goes with the 2.5-liter 4-banger, the 2015 Z-car would be known as the 250Z, according to its standard naming pattern.
The best part of the 370Z is the SynchroRev Match feature on the Sport package’s manual transmission. This perfectly matches the engine and wheel speed for seamless downshifting and better all-around performance. We anticipate that being at least optional on the new Z, with a 6-speed manual being the standard transmission. Also, look for a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic to be the optional gearbox on the 2015 Z-car.
For now, we are going by only what Nissan’s design head alluded to, and some basic assumptions on what Nissan would keep from the existing model’s drivetrain. We will update you with official details as they become available.
Until we know exactly what is going on with the new Z-car, we cannot accurately give any competitors. If the Z goes on a big diet, it would be going head-to-head with the Subaru BRZ turbo, which we expect to see in the same model year. If its diet is just a few lbs, then we would be pitting it against the anticipated 2015 Mustang SVO and its boosted 2.3-liter 4-cylinder.
Regardless of what Nissan does with its Z-car redesign, we agree wholeheartedly that a redesign is necessary. The 370Z was a disappointment to most enthusiasts and it really is a far cry from the Z-cars of yesteryear. Kudos to Nissan for seeing a problem and fixing it. Now let’s see if Nissan can do this the right way without ruining its legendary Z-car.
Better fuel economy
Lightweight and nimble, just like the Z should be
Potentially over 300 ponies from a 4-cylinder
Potential catastrophe in the redesign
We would like to see an optional boosted 6-cylinder
Doubtful to see an AWD model