The next-gen Nissan Z will probably ride on an old platform, but will feature a fresh look and turbo power

The story of the Nissan 400Z has been a long, dramatic one filled with rumors, speculation, and uncertainty. We’ve heard everything from the next-gen Z car landing as a crossover to it being built in collaboration with Mercedes, and let’s not forget new that it could end up being a hybrid or an EV that sits next to the Nissan GT-R EV. Then May of 2020 took a very interesting turn when some reports indicated that both the Nissan Z and GT-R could be discontinued altogether, only to be followed by an official teaser that showcased a retro-styled Z-Car. So, a new Nissan Z was confirmed, and all was good, but now we’re learning more about it, including what we can expect of its platform, its heart, and the likelihood that the 400Z will be electric. Fair warning: you might not like what you’re about to read, but you might.

That Nissan Z Teaser Was Accurate, and the 400Z Will Feature Retro Styling

The Retro-Styled Nissan 400Z Arrives in 2021 But You Might Not Like Everything About It
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Sometimes automakers tease the hell out of us, get us excited, then deliver a product that falls well below our expectations. Take ford and the electric Mustang, for example. We wanted a real electric Mustang. What we got was the crossover known as the Mustang Mach-E. It’s a nice vehicle, no doubt, but not exactly what we wanted. That’s not going to be the case with the Nissan 400Z, though. During a video conference with international media, Nissan’s Global Design Boss – Alfonso Albaisa – admitted that the teaser was saw was real.

" It's not retro as much as it's respect. what it shows is real."

So, while the Nissan 400Z will continue a legacy that stretches back more than 50 years to the 1969 240Z, it’s actually going to make a respectful nod to the automaker’s past. It’s only fitting, given how iconic the nameplate is, and you can expect the front end to share some resemblance while the rear end should carry some 300ZX DNA. There might be a problem, though, as the bones that support this new, retro look will also be old.

The Nissan 400Z Will Probably Ride on the 370Z’s Platform

Nissan is going to go all out on the 400Z’s design and maybe even technology, but it’s largely believed that it will also be based on the 370Z’s architecture. Of course, I’d suspect that Nissan will completely rework or tweak a number of things like the suspension system and the driveline in general, but I’m not so sure that will be enough to make it really stand out, from a purely driving standpoint against the 370Z. So, while it will look new (but retro, of course), its driving dynamics and general on-road experience might not be all that different from the current model. But, that might not actually be the case, and it won’t be due to the next-gen Z going hybrid or electric.

Will the Nissan 400Z Be Hybrid or Electric?

The Retro-Styled Nissan 400Z Arrives in 2021 But You Might Not Like Everything About It
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Despite all the rumors and speculation, it’s practically been confirmed that the Nissan 400Z will maintain an internal combustion engine and will likely avoid hybrid technology altogether. This was largely explained by Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s VP of Global Product Strategy, during the same video conference.

" What I can tell you is I still see space for two different things. Probably in the short term you can still see ... a bit more conventional technology coming. By conventional I mean (an internal combustion engine).

And, that’s due in large part to the fact that the folks at Nissan don’t see battery and EV tech as being ready to deliver the performance expected from sports cars. Some of it has to do with weight and range consistency:

The Retro-Styled Nissan 400Z Arrives in 2021 But You Might Not Like Everything About It
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" The technology of (electric cars) is very well advanced, but it's not at the level you can deliver the performance expected in a sports car."

Mr. Espinosa went on to explain that a lot of that lies in the challenges presented by battery weight but that the company is "learning a lot" from its Formula E team.

With all of this in mind, however, it should also be pointed out that it’s largely believe that the Nissan 370Z’s architecture (and likely that of the 400Z) isn’t designed with electrification in mind. The company may experiment with a hybrid model at some point down the line, but because of the old platform, the ability to introduce electrification to the 400Z will be pretty limited. There is a nice trade-off for this, though, and that comes in the form of forced induction.

That doesn’t mean that the 400Z will be a disappointment by any means, at least not when it comes to engine performance.

The Nissan 400Z Will Come With Turbo Power

The Retro-Styled Nissan 400Z Arrives in 2021 But You Might Not Like Everything About It
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While the 2021 Nissan 400Z won’t be able to venture very far into the growing niche that is electrification, there’s still good news on the horizon, and it could change the 400Z’s driving dynamic altogether. I’m talking about the prospect of a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 that could deliver impressive performance over that of the 370Z. Power output, however, remains a mystery, and this engine isn’t exactly confirmed, but we still want to explore what it could offer. As of now, the 370Z is powered by a 3.7-liter, naturally aspirated engine that is good for either 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque in standard guise or 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet in Nismo form. A turbocharged 3.0-liter could open the door for an impressive power gain, but don’t expect it to get too crazy. The Nissan Z has the job of being the entry-level sports car, and it can’t cross into GT-R territory in terms of performance or price.

The current Nissan GT-R is current good for anywhere between 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque in base form or as much as 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet in Nismo form. The next-gen model is expected to grow in output a bit too, which means the next-gen Z has even more room to grow. I’d be surprised if Nissan kept the 400Z below 400 horsepower or, perhaps, 425 horsepower in Nismo form. With this in mind, the smaller, turbocharged engine could open the door for better acceleration times and could, despite the dated platform, make the 400Z a true successor to the 370Z that we know and love today.

Source: Car Advice

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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