It's always disappointing when a beautiful concept gets watered down for the production version. However, with the seventh-generation Nissan Z, tentatively called the 400Z, that appears not to be the case. Images discovered in a patent filing show that the production version will remain remarkably faithful to the stunning Z Proto unveiled last year.
The production renderings, discovered in Australia's IP office by CarExpert, show a now-familiar shape set to go into production in 2022. The overall shape, sleek lines, and surfaces look identical to those of the Z Proto. However, look closely and you will notice, for example, cutlines for the front and rear bumper fascias that aren't present on the concept. Other differences from the Z Proto include side reflectors, a sensor behind the grille, front and rear parking sensors and keyholes for the doors and trunk.
While the Z Proto's distinctive head and taillight graphics aren't detailed in the renderings, we can expect them to hew pretty closely to the concept's. Nissan's senior vice president of design, Alfonso Albaisa, has made it clear that the light signatures will be key parts of the car's character, with headlights inspired by the 240ZG and taillights inspired by the fourth-generation 300ZX. The renderings don't show the wheels, either, but we hope the tasteful 10-spokes will make it into production.
Some aspects of the rendering make the car even more attractive. On the Z Proto, the grille was blacked out, giving the impression of a large intake. The rendering shows the same grille and opening but it looks more filled out.
The next Z is rumored to be powered by the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400's turbocharged V6, good for a significant bump to 400 horsepower from the 370Z's 332. Importantly, though, the Z will offer a manual transmission.
As for when we might see this production version on the streets, chief engineer Hiroshi Tamura has said the word "Proto" gives a clue. The last time Nissan used "Proto" in a car's name was the 2005 Nissan GT-R Proto concept. It presaged the GT-R, which went on sale in 2007. If we extrapolate, we can expect the Z to go on sale in 2022.