Nissan unveils new Proto Z – and it's all about the future and the past

The Japanese manufacturer's sports runarounds have been around for half a century, but this one is the most powerful of the lot

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Nissan lit up the screens of the world’s motoring media and brand fans on Wednesday with a virtual reveal of the latest incarnation of its Z sports car.

Called the Z Proto – as it’s a prototype, you probably didn’t need telling – the new model has been redesigned from bumper to bumper.

The car is said to combine a retro theme that also projects futurism, if that doesn’t sound all too steampunk. Nowhere is this attempt to combine past and present more obvious though than in the fact the Z has clearly had a total reboot – yet retains a manual gearbox alongside the V6 twin-turbocharged engine.

Many are surprised to discover the Z dates back half a century to 1969, with six distinct generations in that time period and total sales of 1.35 million worldwide. As with every new Z though, there has been a power upgrade. Agility is also a key factor in the Proto, however, Nissan is keen to emphasis.

The unveiled model was decked out in bright yellow, apparently a nod to the first generation models the 240Z and 300ZX, with a black roof. Similarly, the shape of the bonnet and the distinctive outline of the headlights are also reminders of what came before.

The interior design team sought advice from professional motorsports drivers to give the Proto a properly functional cabin, both for road and track. This can be seen in the Z’s instrumentation – all vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital display and arranged to help whoever is behind the wheel to grasp what is afoot at a glance. The redline shift point is situated at the 12 o-clock position, for example.

Astute observers were aware a new Z might be in the pipeline after the Japanese manufacturer hinted at such an event in a brand video Nissan A-Z, which was released in May this year.

During the reveal, the manufacturer’s chief executive Makoto Uchida said the car represented the spirit of the brand. “It’s a key model in our Nissan Next transformation plan, and it’s proof of our ability to do what others don’t dare to do, from A to Z,” he added.

No specifics on when these cars will be arriving in the Middle East, or how much they’ll cost, but a previous generation model, the 370Z, would set you back around Dh170,000.