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Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?

All photos: Stefan Baldauf/SB Medien, Used with permission
All photos: Stefan Baldauf/SB Medien, Used with permission

The current Nissan 370Z came out when most of us were still probably using flip phones, and while it’s fun, I think we can all agree it’s long overdue for a replacement. That replacement has been rumored for years, but always without anything concrete—and claims from Nissan that the company needs to focus on things like “mobility” and “not doing crimes” instead of low-volume sports cars. Now we may have some movement on a new Z.

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Our intrepid shooter caught this black and orange 370Z test mule this week at the Nürburgring. The theory is this is a development prototype for some kind of new Z to be released in 2021, and the car is believed to be benchmarking against the new Toyota Supra out at the ‘Ring. I have not seen any photos of them running together yet.

Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
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I find this especially interesting because it’s the first time we’ve seen a possible mule for any new Z-car in years. Before now, all we had to go on were rumors. Also interesting is the fact that this mule has additional air intakes in the front bumper for better cooling, and the foglights were removed for that purpose as well.

We have no clue what’s under the hood, but I hope it’s the Infiniti-sourced, 400 horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, because that’s a great engine and it belongs in a Z. The Supra makes sense as a target here.

Should we get our hopes up? And what about that Mazda RX-8 we saw out there recently? Maybe some OEM drivers just want to relive their mid-aughts sports car dreams. Or in the case of Nissan, their 2019 sports car dreams.

Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
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Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
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Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
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Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
Illustration for article titled Should We Get Our Hopes Up About This Nissan 370Z Test Mule At The Nürburgring?
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Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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DISCUSSION

So, other than the goofy price, can someone explain what’s so bad about the current 370Z?

On paper, it sounds like the relatively lightweight, mostly analog sports car we all claim to want.  I haven’t driven one, but the 350Z (manual) and G35 (automatic) I’ve driven were both pretty fun.  Is the 370Z somehow worse than those?