The Nissan Z Proto might be a 370Z underneath, but that isn’t a bad thing

CY Foong · Sep 21, 2020 06:00 PM

We’ve covered the Nissan Z Proto when it was unveiled last week and had a roundtable discussion with its designer, Alfonso Albaisa. Clearly, the upcoming 400Z has taken a lot of inspiration from the S30 240Z and the Z32 300ZX.

But there are a few inspirations taken from the modern Z cars, the 350Z and 370Z. Alfonso was part of the design team of the 350Z and it became a gateway Z car and was somewhat of a fan favourite. It lasted for 6 years before it was replaced by the 370Z.

Unfortunately, the 370Z got quite a lot of flak, having been on sale since 2009 with a mild refresh in 2012. It is as old as the Proton Exora but at least it feels more fun to drive, right?

With that being said, the Z Proto might have been a great-looking car. Compared with the 370Z, it’s like apples and oranges, night and day, Kim and Khloe Kardashian. At least on the surface. The Z Proto might have elements of the 370Z, a lot more than we think.

First, let’s start with the side profile. The Z Proto has a very distinct silhouette and you might think it resembles the 240Z but eagle-eyed readers might think it matches the 370Z a lot more. Well, that couldn’t be more true since the 370Z was also inspired by the 240Z in terms of design.

But upon closer inspection, you could see that the Z Proto might be a rebodied 370Z underneath. There is the nearly similar door shape – though the Z Proto has a sleeker hidden door handle, the side glass windows which share nearly similar outlines, and the rear quarter panel cut line which look very similar side by side.

Next, let’s head to the rear of the cars. Look at the roof and notice the slight double bubble design on both the 370Z and the Z Proto. Both look very similar, don’t they? Though it can be said that some car manufacturers reuse the same roof panels from the previous generations to save cost.

Now, let’s hop in and find more clues. The dashboard of the Z Proto itself looks very much modern and contemporary but there are small hints of the 370Z that are seen inside. For one, there are the ancillary gauges on the top of the dashboard which look similar to the 370Z, except that the Z Proto has a more classic analogue look.

Then, there are the overlooked details like the centre console which looks simpler in the Z Proto than the 370Z and the door panels. The door handles, the air vents, and the position of the electric window buttons in the Z Proto appear similar to the one in the 370Z.

One of the parts clearly shared between the 370Z and the Z Proto is the climate control knobs, which Nissan kept the old-school aesthetic going. However, the Z Proto tries to make it look more modern with white letterings on a black colour knob.

In an interview with Ivan Espinosa, the senior vice president of product planning at Nissan, he hinted that the Z Proto would likely be built on the same platform as the 370Z as Nissan isn’t planning on partnering with anyone.

The BMW Z4 M Coupe, I mean, Toyota Supra and BMW Z4

In an age where manufacturers partner with one another to save cost, Nissan looks like it’s doing a risky move going solo with the new Z. Even Toyota which is far more profitable than Nissan partnered with BMW and Subaru for their sports cars.

Speaking of sports cars, it is a very niche segment with sales dwindling every year. The Z Proto is very likely one of the last old-school sports cars. It’s a car built for the passionate car enthusiasts.

With a manual transmission, a traditional handbrake, and a twin-turbo V6, it should satisfy the vocal fanboys who criticise the Toyota Supra for not having a manual gearbox and for being a BMW underneath. Now, whether we see if these car fans can deliver when the 400Z makes its production debut is a whole other theory.