Nissan considered a Juke-inspired Z car, but it eventually went with retro styling based on the 240Z

Rumored for quite a few years, the Nissan 400Z is still a long time away, but the Japanese firm just unveiled the Z Proto. As the name suggests, it’s some sort of concept/prototype that previews the upcoming 400Z. It’s heavily inspired by the iconic 240Z, but it also features styling cues from the 300ZX and from the outgoing 370Z. But Nissan also released a video that showcases the design development of the Z Proto, and it seems that the Japanese brand considered various options, including one that’s inspired by the old Juke.

The Nissan 400Z could have looked like the Juke

Nissan Ushers in the Future By Looking to its Past With the Z Proto Exterior
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The footage mostly focuses on how Nissan took inspiration from the 240Z and 300ZX for the Z Proto, but a couple of shots shows sketches with designs that the brand considered in the initial development stages. And one of them seems heavily inspired by the first-generation Juke.

The first-gen subcompact crossover looks quite funky. It features two pairs of headlamps up front, with long and slim running lights mounted atop the fenders and more conventional, round lights mounted lower in the fascia. The prominent wheel arches combined with the high waistline and the small side windows added even more to its funky design, which Nissan described as a modern interpretation of the "coke bottle" styling. The rear fascia was equally funky thanks to its boomerang-shaped taillights and slightly arched tailgate that looks like a hunchback.

Despite its funky and outlandish design, the Juke was well received by the public, so it's not surprising that Nissan considered its design for the 400Z.
2014 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior
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The sketches reveal a similar approach with slim lights mounted at the top and larger round headlamps fitted lower in the fascia. We can also see beefed-up wheel arches and a high waistline, as well as a really slim quarter window. The Juke-inspired features were combined with the overall silhouette of the 370Z, and the result is somewhat exotic. This prototype looks far more aggressive than the Z Proto, but it’s not very related to iconic Z models like the latter is.

The Nissan Z Proto and 400Z Could Have Looked Like a Juke
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Should Nissan have chosen this design? Although it doesn’t look bad, I can’t say I’m a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like the funky first-gen Juke a lot, but a modern Z car inspired by the 240Z is a much better option.

The Nissan 400Z borrows heavily from the 240Z and 300ZX

Nissan Ushers in the Future By Looking to its Past With the Z Proto Exterior
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The production Nissan 400Z will look a lot like the Z Proto, and the latter takes inspiration from two classic Z cars. First up, the Z Proto looks a lot like the iconic 240Z when it comes to shape, proportions, and features in the front. The oval headlamps may feature LED technology, but they’re placed in the same position as the 240Z’s lights. The square grille in the front, as well as the raised center section of the hood, are borrowed from the iconic Z car.

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In the rear, we can see influences from the 300ZX. The entire upper fascia is black, while the taillights feature horizontal LED strips, and both mimic features seen on the 300ZX.

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The quarter windows and the "Z" badge on the C-pillar are also somewhat based on the 240Z’s. When it comes to the profile, it’s a blend between the original 240Z and the outgoing 370Z, including the sloping roofline, the long tailgate, and the short rear deck.

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Even the interior is inspired by the 240Z, featuring the iconic three gauges on top of the center stack and a digital cluster that mimics the old Z car’s gauges, with the big rev counter in the center.

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Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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