Nissan's next Z-car will be lighter and leaner and appeal to a wider range of buyers, according to design boss Shiro Nakamura. Work on the 370Z replacement “is at an early stage”, he said, adding “there is a concept car to come; work has just started on it”.
There is no word on when that concept could be unveiled, but the 2014 Detroit motor show is a possibility.
The current 370Z has not enjoyed quite the same success as the 2002 350Z, which revived the Z-car reputation and sold well in Europe, the US and Japan.
The 370Z has been hit hard by the global recession — sales were down 45 per cent last year from the 2009 peak in the US, its biggest market — and it has not made quite the same splash as the 350Z. “The next one has to have a stronger impact,” said Nakamura.
That won’t be achieved by making it bigger. “It cannot be any larger,” he said. “It’s at its maximum size now and should go leaner.”
The new model will also feature a downsized engine, probably a four-cylinder turbo rather than today’s 3.7-litre V6, which will go some way to boadening the car’s appeal. “It needs to be lighter and more accessible to open the door to more people,” said Nakamura.
Nissan must also juggle with the product planning implications of a move to a lighter, leaner, downsized Z, because the current car not only shares its FM platform with the conceptually close Infiniti G coupé, but also the G saloon and the Infiniti FX.
The Alliance tie-up with Daimler might also mean that the next Z-car could draw on Mercedes-Benz hardware.