"A new Z car! Really! Wait. Ok, not really. We have some concepts to distract you. We're not sure what we're doing, but get excited!" This seems to be Nissan's approach when it comes to the replacement for the VERY long-in-the-tooth 370Z that's been for sale since way back in 2009 when you graduated from high school. Yup. So, what the hell is going on with the Z car, and will we ever see a new one? The story is a bit complicated.
Hurry Up and Wait
Last year, there was a rumor from Autocar UK that the next-gen Z car was confirmed (no sources provided, of course). The claim was that it would be powered by a 399-hp turbo V6 and even a Nismo version with twin turbocharging to the tune of 475-hp to all four wheels. That's a lot of detail without any confirmation or source. It sure sounds good, and we all kinda ate it up. Kinda. The power seems right since the current 370Z makes 332 hp, so more power for the replacement is assumed. Right? Well, not exactly. I mean, weren't they going to to a Z crossover?
Get a Gripz
Nissan talked about the next-generation Z car in the form of a racy crossover known as the Gripz. Interesting, if not handsome, the elevated sporty-coupe-CUV was meant to capitalize on the rise of the crossover and the decline of the sports car. They even went so far as to say, "Sports cars don't have to be low to the ground to be fun," or something like that. Then, by definition, it's no longer a sports car but a crossover. We're stumped. Well, the Gripz never happened despite the fact that it was supposedly greenlit back in 2015. Again, no Z Car in whatever form.
In 2017, it was rumored that Nissan would bring a Z concept car to the Tokyo International Motor Show. Pics of the ES Flow concept that bowed in 2011 appeared to be the inspiration, even though it would be unlikely that the brand would unveil an electric Z. At least there was some hope that the essential look and shape of the 370Z would be retained with a bit of Mazda RX-8 thrown in the mix. But then what happened? Instead of showing up to blow away the masses with a new Z, Nissan showed up with a weird electric crossover called the IMx that looked like a 22nd century Wisconsin duck boat. No Z car in sight.
More Promises Made in Vain?
Well, the news isn't great. Think about it. Nothing approaching an actual Z concept car has been seen since rumors started back in 2015 that the brand was going to come. Instead, we got a concept crossover that never happened, and we even were painfully teased by the stunning, evocative IDX Concept that was supposedly confirmed and never happened.
Autocar continues to spread rumors of a 400Z, possibly debuting as a concept car later this year, but nothing's been confirmed by Nissan. We're really not holding our breath after 2017's tease. The brand's Chief Planning Officer, Philippe Klein, confirmed to Top Gear that they're planning to replace both the 370Z and the pricier, faster GT-R supercar. But as most of you know, when rumors go around for a few years, you'd expect to see a vehicle testing in camo or something like that. There's zilch about the Z.
A 400Z Would be Supra-Good News
We admit the market's not exactly ripe for a new sports car, even though the new Toyota Supra just bowed. Crossovers, trucks, and SUVs continue their meteoric rise while sports cars struggle (the Camaro will die). It makes sense for Nissan to focus on more crossovers (their boring Rogue is remarkably successful), but they can't let Toyota have all the glory. Hell, it's possible even Mazda may bring a new rotary-engined RX (another nasty rumor).
But Nissan really does need to shit or get off the pot. If they're not going to build a Z car, stop talking about it. If they are, throw us a bone. Official renderings, even a half-assed concept car with no engine. Something. The world is waiting. Or not.