Not a lot is known about Nissan’s next Z-car. Early in December of 2014, Nissan’s vice president and global head of marketing, Roel de Vries, hinted that the 370 Z’s successor could have a variety of engines, depending on a given market. Then, a week later, word spread that the next Z-Car would be launched as a convertible (they were calling it “The Z”) and would probably have a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, hybrid engine.

Once that news hit the world, things went stagnant for a while – until June of 2015, when Shiro Nakamoa, Nissan’s senior vice president, and chief creative officer, came out and admitted that the Z-car idea needed to be “rethought.” He also strongly hinted that the upcoming car would be smaller and lighter, potentially looking back to the roots of the original Datsun 240Z. Once that news broke, the information trail went cold, and we’ve been left waiting.

Well, at TopSpeed, we’re tired of waiting, so we went ahead and rendered up what the next Z-car could look like. Of course, it is a bit smaller and low slung, but it also shares some design cues with the current Nissan Sentra and Nissan Murano. The hole rendering is speculation based on what we’ve heard in the past and Nissan’s current design styles, but we think we have nailed it pretty well. We’re hoping to see the official debut of the next Z by 2018, but until then let’s take a look at our rendering and what we hope to see when it makes an official debut in the coming years.

Click past the jump to read our full, and constantly growing, review on the upcoming Z-car.

Exterior

2011 Nissan 370Z Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 380310

Note: Current Nissan 370Z pictured here.

As you can see, we think the next Z-car will be low slung, and similar to the 370Z, just smaller. Up front, you’ll recognize a grille similar to what we see on the 2016 Nissan Sentra, but for the Z, we’ve expanded on it a bit. Instead of a thin, flat-V-shaped divider, the grille embraces a wider divider with are vents on the sides and a big Nissan emblem right in the middle. The headlights are also of a similar design, but the outer points – the ones that point toward the side mirrors – those are longer and more pronounced, giving the car a sportier set of eyes compared to the Sentra. The front splitter is rather basic, but it should provide enough airflow to the intercooler, should the next Z-car be turbocharged as previous reports have suggested.

So the sides, the bubbled wheel arches give the car a wide-looking stance, and the side skirts are mild enough that they could easily be found on the production model. Looking closer, the rear side glass has been left out and replaced with an insert – thanks to the shorter wheelbase (probably about two- to three-inches shorter,) the really isn’t a need for that side glass. The car will probably ride on 18-inch wheels in the lowest trim offering, but in range-topping trim, I would expect to see those wheels go up to 20 inches and will probably be an inch or so wider in the rear.

As far as the rear of the car goes, it will probably look quite similar to the current 370Z with some minor alterations. The biggest thing I think we’ll see is those same bubbly wraparound taillights from the Murano – just like you can see in the rendering. Either way, if the next Z-car comes out looking like this, we think it will be a nice addition to Nissan’s lineup.

Interior

2011 Nissan 370Z Coupe High Resolution Interior
- image 380316

Note: Current Nissan 370Z pictured here.

I think Nissan is expecting a lot out of its next Z-car, so I suspect the interior will be reminiscent of the 2014 to 2015 370z Nismo, but a little better. The infotainment screen display will be of the touchscreen type, with most infotainment functions done on screen – leaving no need for the control panel below the screen on the 370Z. I suspect we’ll see the same Z-branded steering wheel, but it will be enhanced by a sleeker design and, by the time it is released, it might even include some touchscreen controls itself. I suspect the seats will also be a combination of leather and Alcantara, but remember that is only early-on speculation. As far as we know, the next Z-car is said to slot before the 370 and 350zs, so it will probably come at a lower price – ultimately leading to a less luxurious cabin.

Drivetrain

2009 - 2017 Nissan 370Z High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 420401

Note: Current Nissan 370Z pictured here.

Do you have any idea of what will be used to power the next Z-car? Well, your guess is as good as ours at this point. Previously, it was said that markets like Europe wouldn’t get a V-6 powered Z, but markets like the U.S. will probably be begging for a V-6 before the initial concept debuts. I think markets outside of the U.S. will likely get the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that we discussed earlier. That will keep the new Z out of the heavy tax brackets of some markets, plus with the way our technology has evolved the car could easily push 300 horses with that little four-pot. Here in the U.S., we might see the 3.7-liter V-6 from the 370Z Nismo, but it will probably be toned down at bit – somewhere around 325 horses maybe.

It should be noted, that since the car will be smaller and lighter, that V-6 could be toned down even more and still provide 0-to-60 mph times in the five- to six-second range. Of course, Nissan could develop a whole new V-6 for the next Z-car and if that is the case, who knows what we’ll see under the hood. Either way, I don’t think the brand will let us down with the decision they make. We just have to wait until the time comes to see what they come up with.

Suspension

2009 - 2017 Nissan 370Z Exterior
- image 437192
2013 Nissan 370Z Facelift

Note: Current Nissan 370Z pictured here.

With the next Z-car being lighter than the 370Z, the car will probably have a slightly rougher ride if Nissan goes with its current suspension setup in the 370. I think Nissan will reimagine the suspension to help smooth the ride a bit. We may see high-performance shocks and struts to help keep things smooth. Naturally, as sports cars go, one would expect a rough ride, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Nissan is looking to appeal to the younger generation and keep a lower price point, so it will probably go out of its way to smooth things over as well as it can. Expect double wishbone suspension, and even thicker bushings throughout the chassis to help absorb more vibration from the road. It’s a sports car, so the suspension will probably remain rather stiff to help cut down on body roll during extreme or high-speed cornering.

Competition

Audi TT

2016 - 2018 Audi TT High Resolution Exterior
- image 544349

The Audi TT entered its third generation for the 2016 model year, and by the time the next Z-car hits dealerships, it should be up for a mild refresh. It is currently offered with two variations of the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder. One puts out 230 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, and the other puts out just over 300 horses and 280 pound-feet. The lesser propels the TT to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while jumping up to the more powerful 2.0 takes the car there in 4.7-seconds. Depending on how Nissan goes with the powertrain for the next Z, the Audi TT should be a worthy competitor. Currently, the base model goes for around $43,000, which will probably be a bit more than the next Z-car. On the track, however, the two should compete quite well.

Read our full review on the Audi TT here.

Conclusion

2018 Nissan Z Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 660951

It’s so hard to speculate on such a long-awaited car without going totally overboard with ideas. The biggest problem right now is that technology is evolving like crazy, so by the time 2018 rolls around, who knows what common technologies will be around. Either way, as long as we’ve been waiting for the next Z, Nissan should deliver quite the package when it finally debuts. It will be exciting to see just how well they can trace this next iteration of the Z back to the original Datsun, and what a sweet car that was. If they do a good enough job, I expect the car to be quite successful and very fun to drive.

  • Leave it
    • * Taking forever in development
    • * No real recent news
    • * Can we get all-wheel drive?
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