The Z has always been an indicator of Nissan's well-being. The 1970 240Z set the stage for the brand's success throughout the decade, the 1990 300ZX showed the impressive engineering acumen Nissan would be known for in the '90s, and the 2003 350Z ushered in a renaissance as Carlos Ghosn and his Renault-Nissan Alliance brought the company back from the brink. The current 370Z has withered, along with its parent company, over the past decade, leaving many to wonder if the Z had a future at all in the wake of Ghosn's scandalous departure and the company's financial struggles. The Z Proto, a production-intent preview for the upcoming Z35-generation 400Z, appears to answer that question with a resounding yes.
As they were in the 1990s, the Z and Supra will be close rivals. The Nissan's manual transmission is an advantage over the automatic-only Toyota (for now), but the Z will have its work cut out for it matching the 382-hp Supra's zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds. Nissan hasn't made any performance claims yet, other than hinting that the automatic will be quicker than the manual.
Given its new engine and revamped design, we think the new Z will leap in price over the current car, which starts at $31,085. When the 400Z production car arrives sometime in 2021, we expect it will start in the mid-$40,000 range, neatly bisecting the four- and six-cylinder Supra models.