Smaller, lighter, more efficient, and more BRZ-like. That's what we've been hearing about the car that will replace the Nissan 370Z for some time. Since it's likely the next Z will follow the trend of downsizing engines, what do you call it? How about just the Nissan Z?
That's the gist of this interview with Roel de Vries, Nissan's corporate vice president and global head of marketing and brand strategy, in Australia's Car Advice. The Aussie car pubs can be a bit... dodgy, to say the least, but this one seems pretty solid and it's from a Nissan exec himself.
First, there's the question of engines. The current Z has a 3.7-liter V6 with 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It's a solid motor, but a lot more power can be squeezed out of smaller, turbocharged engines these days, and the thirsty V6 is a tough sell in Europe.
So de Vries says we may see several engine options in the next car, not unlike the 2015 Ford Mustang:
"Can you sell a V6 [370Z] in Europe? No. Does that mean the next Z will have a V6 [for Europe]? No, of course we are not going to do that." de Vries told CarAdvice. "[But] there's still an audience that wants a six-cylinder engine, so why should we give it up? That's all part of on going studies."
[...] "I think an engine is never a need or must, because what you need is to deliver on what the car stands for and if the 370Z stands for real performance and real driving I think it doesn't need a V6 to do that."
That's not surprising. We've been hearing that the next Z will go smaller or even turbocharged for some time.
(Here's a suggestion from ol' PG, Nissan: You guys and Mercedes are best pals these days, right? I'd love to see that crazy 355 horsepower turbo 2.0-liter four from the Mercedes CLA45 AMG in a proper rear-wheel drive sports car. I want that! You want it too! You know you do!)
So if we get a smaller engine, where does that leave the Z's naming scheme, which in non-Japanese markets has always included the engine displacement? 200Z doesn't have the same ring to it that 370Z does. Ask BMW and Benz about that.
De Vries tosses out an interesting suggestion:
"In my opinion the displacement as part of the product name is a bit behind us. [So] Naming might also change, in the past when we all grow up, the bigger the engine the more expensive the car, the faster it would be. Everybody has left that, because it's not about displacement of the engine, it's about what the engine could do."
"We [will] definitely keep the Z name, but when we did 350 to 370 it was because of the capacity, but who says the next-generation doesn't have three engines and its not just called Z?"
Yeah, why not indeed? He tosses this out almost casually, but if I were a betting man, I'd put money on this happening. Just call it the Nissan Z. It's sexy, simple, and in line with their heritage. Numbers are overrated anyway.