A hybrid drivetrain could help the Z to poke the base model GT-R in its backside

Strange as it may seem, two of the anachronic figures in the world of sports cars, albeit at different ends of the pricing spectrum, Nissan’s 370Z and Maserati’s GranTurismo have finally been replaced one way or another after over a decade on the market. While Maserati chose to pick a fight with Ferrari & Co. with its next two-door model, Nissan more or less sticks with the classic formula with the retro-looking 400Z. More or less because, apparently, the upcoming 400Z NISMO could be a hybrid.

This would be the first hybrid Z ever

The Nissan 400Z NISMO Could Be a Hybrid Exterior
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We like the 370Z but, for a while now, it has just felt like that one friend of yours who, while kind and fun to be around, still seems to be stuck in the past, unable to adapt to the requirements of modern living.

That, pretty much, sums up the 370Z. While its engine and chassis balance wasn’t far off the mark, the 3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6 lagged behind most of its rivals in terms of power and the styling looked a bit dated too. And that’s the exterior styling we’re talking about because the interior of a 370Z has been for a while now a proper time machine back to the late ’00s.

Happily, though, Nissan did come up with a way to include the Z car in its future and this week’s reveal of the Z Proto proves that not only is Nissan’s sporty, compact two-door back, it’ll also be more of a throwback than ever in terms of looks. On the inside, however, it’s all modern with a screen instead of analog dials and another display on the center console in a very intricated old-meets-new style. The main representative of the ’old’ is the six-speed manual and we can also throw in there the fact that no ’normal’ Zs will be hybrid.

The Nissan 400Z NISMO Could Be a Hybrid Exterior
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That’s because Nissan is apparently cooking a hybridized Z car but it will come with NISMO badges all over the place. During the launch event of the Z Proto, Hiroshi Tamura, the Chief Product Specialist for GT-R and NISMO, answered rather positively a question regarding the likelihood of a high-performance Z.

"This answer is why not … for me, if customers strongly request for the NISMO grade, why not?" he said. “[Right now] I cannot say yes or no, it’s not clear."

Tamura went on to further emphasize the importance of customer feedback in the steps Nissan will take in creating a potential Nismo version of the Z. "We considered about for some EV solution for study only," he said. "What kind of solution do we need to compare performance level, business case, customer voice … then we selected this single solution, [the V-6 twin-turbo]", he added before saying that "[later], if customers strongly request some kind of hybrid system we have to do that."

The Nissan 400Z NISMO Could Be a Hybrid Exterior
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As it stands, the V-6 in the standard Z is expected to develop over 400 horsepower considering that the engine comes from the now-defunct Infiniti Q60 Red Sport Coupe that delivered 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. If indeed a hybrid, Nismo-badged model arrives, then it might as well pack the electrified version of the VR30DDTT V-6 that was arguably the centerpiece of the Infiniti Project Black S Prototype. The drivetrain, said to be good for over 530 horsepower, was co-developed with Renault’s F1 team and features an F1-style MGU-H (motor generator unit-heat) that can regenerate power when you mash the throttle on top of an MGU-K (motor generator unit-kinetic) that recovers energy under braking.

The Nissan 400Z NISMO Could Be a Hybrid Exterior
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The batteries needed for the system could make the Nismo Z heavier than the standard one but don’t forget that the upcoming Toyota GR Supra GRMN with its BMW M3-borrowed S58 twin-turbo, 3.0-liter six-pot will barely make more than 500 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. To put it into context, the current Nissan 370Z NISMO’s modified 3.7-liter V-6 is only good enough for 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque.

Nissan remains tight-lipped on when we’ll see the Nissan Z in the showrooms but a 2023 release date seems plausible given Tamura-san’s hint during the online launch event. He said that we should look at the GT-R R35’s timeline if we want to get an idea of when the final, production-ready Z may drop and the GT-R Proto was unveiled a full two years before the production model finally came. This would confirm previous reports, however, others it may be here as early as next year with a US launch on the cards given the car’s importance Stateside and the fact that it actually won’t be sold globally with the European market now off the cards.

The Nissan 400Z NISMO Could Be a Hybrid Exterior
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It’s worth pointing out that Nissan is also cooking up a hybrid drivetrain for the next GT-R if recent reports are to be believed and that too will sport an MGU-K system to recuperate and store energy. But the new GT-R too is a few years away and, until then, NISMO fans who want a hybrid have to make do with Nissan Note e-Power NISMO S. With a 25% increase in both power and torque over the standard NISMO version that’s been on sale in Japan since 2016, the sportier NISMO S makes 134 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque out of a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine feeding a 1.5 kWh battery. That’s certainly not much and we expect the hybrid Nissan Z NISMO to bring a lot more when you consider that it will probably rival the Supra in terms of price.

Source: Motoring

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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