The Nissan Z Proto has finally been revealed, showcasing what will become the next Z production car. Though Nissan is being coy with details—saying only that the Z Proto has a twin-turbo V-6 and a manual transmission—there's a lot to dissect. Because not only does the new Z look great, it's also filled with throwback references to old Z cars.
Though it's not immediately obvious, the front grill is a reference to the rectangular air intake of the original Datsun 240Z, an influence that's easiest to see when you look at a 240 without the chrome bumper that bisects the front fascia. That grille even features similar fins to the original. Keeping with the 240 theme, the half-circle headlights of the Z Proto pay homage to the JDM-only 240ZG.
Most notable is the side profile, with its inverse rake that leads to a lower rear deck lid. That teardrop shape is iconic, making 240 side profiles instantly recognizable. But my favorite retro nod is the rear fascia. Its black-inset rectangular taillights instantly evoke the second-generation 300ZX, aka the Z32. That callback is perfectly timed to fit with our Radwood-tinged moment, a modern take on a design that oozes classic charm.
What's particularly impressive is that the modern, Seventies, and Eighties cues don't seem to clash. The car is at once unique, designed with purpose, and also referential to the past. That's a combo that's tough to get right, as cars like the modern Camaro and Land Rover Discovery prove. It's not perfect, with the grille looking a bit blocky for the rest of the design, but the rear three-quarter view is utterly fantastic. Also, let's not forget, it'll be offered with a manual.
If Nissan can nail the suspension and steering, this'll be a sensational car.
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