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Hooniverse Asks: What should Nissan do with the Z car?

Nissan is set to celebrate 50 years of the Z car and the Skyline. The party starts at the New York Auto Show, which is where the automaker will roll out special editions of both its 370Z and GT-R. There’s a problem though, and that is the fact that both models are rather long in the tooth. The world is ready for a new Z car, and has been for some time now. An brand new GT-R is needed to do battle with the large crop of supercars that have been born since its launch. It’s time for both to evolve.

What should Nissan do with the Z car? We’ve talked about this before but I believe Nissan has two paths ahead of it for the Z. One is to slide back power and price in an effort to create a competitor to the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ. The other is to stuff that 400-horsepower Infiniti engine under the hood, but leave the steering bits hydraulic please.

First Impressions: 2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z

Otherwise it’s time to kill this car and move on. I say that as someone who loves the Z car and its history (minus the 350Z, that does nothing for me). It’s funny to see what’s become of the modern Z, as it mirrors the Z32-era car that effectively helped kill the sports car for some time. That wasn’t solely the fault of the 300ZX, of course. But the price war onslaught of the 300ZX, Mitsubishi’s 3000GT, and the Toyota Supra, couple with a shifting focus to SUVs thanks to the Ford Explorer, helped put sports cars on the back burner for a bit.

Today, crossovers are the hot ticket. But there are still spots in the garage afforded to sports cars and muscle cars. Supercar makers are selling in record volume. A handful of affordable options exist for enthusiast. And the battle between the domestic machines is hotter than ever.

The time is right for Nissan to evolve the Z, and it do well down either path. It just has to get moving down one of them, and quickly.

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6 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What should Nissan do with the Z car?”

  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    Obviously the answer is to take the GM/Mitsubishi approach – turn a well loved name into a bland cross-over.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    I think the last time I was in a Z car, it was with someone else’s hot girlfriend. She was driving his car while he was out of town.

    Nissan needs to de-blandify their products, and make them like the old days. Mazda has been selling a 50-year-old Lotus Elan for thirty years now. The modern Z should evoke the old Z that stirred passion.

  3. neight428 Avatar

    Give the market the FR-S/BRZ/86 that Toyoburu won’t and give it power. Like Genesis coupe but a bit lighter.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      This. Exactly this. That twin-turbo V6 motor from the Infiniti Red Sport cars plus a modernized Z platform would be fantastic. Especially if lost some weight…the Z is 3400 lbs!

  4. crank_case Avatar

    My gut says go right back to the fairlady z roadster and do an mx5 rival maybe? ..but one of the great ironies of forthcoming Euro7 emissions standards is it makes cheap small cars uneconomic as you can’t hit the 95g/km target without hybridisation, and that makes city cars (sub Fiesta) uneconomic, and probably dents the business case for cheap sports car. While that doesn’t affect the US directly, one less market is one more obstacle to making a new Z.

    A GT86 rival seems more suited to a new Silvia.

    Maybe just pay Panoz already and make that bladeglider?

    A new GT-R is arguably much easier, so much so that it’s staring the in the face. Roll GT-R back into the Skyline nameplate so it becomes a hot version of the next R38 Skyline/Infiniti GWhatever and offer both coupe and four door versions (not without precedent, there was the Autech R33). At a stroke you widen the market, while giving Infiniti a credible M/AMG killer.

    It would also be a fitting tribute to a half century of skylines to restore the jewel in the crown.

  5. Ted Odell Avatar
    Ted Odell

    Don’t forget Nissan has the Infinitiy Q60 (aka G35) sitting upmarket from the Z. This creates a cap for how far up the price curve one can take the Z.

    I agree with Jeff, it is stuck in the middle where it is. Personally, I’d like to see it taken down price and compete with the “affordable” sports cars. That having been said it is not obvious the market is large enough to sell more units to make up for the margin.

    Either way, fix the lines so it has some character!