It will Be a While Before We See a New Z Car
The fate of the Nissan Z platform is uncertain, but not doomed. We know it's going to stick around and there will always be a Z in the lineup and that it will remain a sports car. What we don't know is what's going to change, exactly, but we have learned some broad stroke, big picture items that are going on in the Nissan design rooms.
The original idea was that the new iteration of the 370Z would continue to occupy a spot just below the halo GT-R as the more affordable, but still mid-priced coupe and roadster that it is now. Somewhere below it, closer to the mid-$20k price point, would be a more entry-level sports car that could have been based on the IDx concepts shown a couple of years ago.
We know that's changed and that the entry-level sports car is not going to happen. Insiders have said that Nissan crunched the numbers and a car of that type would not sell in numbers sufficient to justify its costs of development. This is a problem that Toyota and Subaru have faced with the FR-S and BRZ twins. After the first couple of years, interest in cars of that type wane.
With more mid-level sports cars like the 370Z, however, that isn't as much the case. So the Z car remains. What Nissan is said to be planning is a restructuring the Z and where it fits in terms of price and market. The Z has admittedly become heavier and slower with time, growing more luxurious and less powerful compared to many of its rivals. In the market, this has overpriced the car for the performance value offered and sales have shown that customers are noticing that.
The fix? A smaller, lighter, lower-priced Z seems obvious. The 370Z could become a 250Z as the engine loses two cylinders and the body weight loses some bulge. A turbocharged four-cylinder is certainly within Nissan's capability. Nissan is not officially saying anything about that aspect, but it seems relatively obvious to some of us out here looking in.
Globalizing the Z would be easier with this setup as well. This would also make it more cost-effective for Nissan to keep it as a two-seat only car and keep a roadster option available.
All of this redesigning means that Nissan is not going to show a new Z car anytime really soon. Expect at least two more years before we see anything like a concept or pre-production conceptual.