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 |   |  1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil
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1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil

The 400Z concept finally touches down in California and looks better than we thought.

Sam Du
Oct 30, 2020

It's been six weeks since the unveiling of the Z Proto (speculated to be called the 400Z), and today, we finally got to see it in person! The folks at Nissan kindly stopped by our offices to let us have an up-close and personal look at the concept car, which we're told is pretty close to looking like the production vehicle. Before you start to demand answers about the powerplant, horsepower numbers, pricing and so on, please remember there is no new info to share about the car. All we do know is that it looks a lot better in "Z flesh" than it did in the original photos we gathered in Japan last month.

Nissan Proto Z Front Grille Photo 32/32   |   1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil

In my first take on the Z Proto, I was a bit harsh on the car. To me, it possessed a confused identity with so many elements borrowed from heritage models, for example, the 300ZX Z32-style taillights and the massive rectangular mouth reminiscent of the original Datsun 240Z. When I saw the car today, I was definitely able to appreciate the design cues more thoroughly. The front-end didn't look as unfinished as I thought it would, with the center grille featuring rounded edges and more definition, along with those elongated oval grille inserts. It kind of worked...

The body line/shape from the headlights to the rear fenders is also more pronounced and quite muscular once you get to the back. Perhaps having a demo car in such a bright color wasn't the best idea to show this off, as with the original photos you just see a blob of yellow. Both head- and taillights have a modern feel; the long and narrow oval shaped LED taillights actually match the front grille inserts which was a nice touch.

Nissan Proto Z Digital Gauge Cluster Photo 32/32   |   1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil

The interior was overall sporty and retains the analog gauges in the dash while the instrument cluster is completely digital. I'd prefer a seat with more aggressive bolsters, and the color-matched piping on the edges as well as flashy floor mats aren't my style, but if I owned this car, I'd probably change those out anyway.

Our First Impression of the Z Proto Unveil in Japan:
SS first take on the Z Proto

Speaking of owning it... Over the last month, I've been asked constantly if I'd sell my 2020 Toyota Supra to slide into the new Z. The 400Z NISMO Concept, as rendered by Jon Sibal, is pretty much exactly what I'd do with a Z project car with the addition of a clean carbon fiber lip kit, Volk Racing TE37s and tall rear wing.

Nissan Proto Z Bronze Wheel Photo 32/32   |   1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil

Comparing the stock A90 Supra to this Z Proto (albeit this is still a prototype), based on style and design alone, I'm a much bigger fan of the Supra (and trust me I really wanted to love the Z!). If I was a previous Datsun owner, perhaps I'd feel a bit more emotion with the Z Proto, especially with all of the old school design cues. Where the next-gen Z does have my attention is still what's yet to be disclosed... We know it'll be offered in a six-speed manual, but will the engine and power be what we might expect? A twin-turbo V6 rated at 400hp? Like you, I'll just have to wait and see when the production model is announced. 2021 can't come soon enough...

Nissan Proto Z Driver Side Front View Photo 32/32   |   1st Photos Of turbocharged, Manual-Equipped Nissan Z Proto On American Soil
By Sam Du
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