Search Cars for Sale

2022 Nissan Z: First Look

  • All-new version of the iconic Nissan Z
  • Manual Transmission
  • Twin-turbo V6
  • Classic look without going full retro
  • Some 300ZX design cues

The Nissan Z is one of those cars that you just know even if you’re not a sports car enthusiast. Like the iconic American Corvette or Mustang, the Z is instantly recognizable and needs just that one letter to tell you what it’s all about. Nissan is calling this the Z Proto – think of it as a concept car with one foot in reality. Based on the concept version of the new Nissan Ariya, we think it’s closer to being a real car than most concepts.


We’ve seen the prototype up close, and it is striking. The stylized “Z” on the rear pillar is there, as are large dual exhaust outlets in the rear. One-touch we really like, the LED headlights are covered by clear lenses similar to the look of the Nissan 240ZG. The rear end has a 300ZX feel, and the thin LED taillights look like retro-futurism done right.

19-inch wheels with lettered tires give the more of the aggressive look some more recent Zs have lacked. It’s almost like Nissan designers specifically aimed to remove some of the soft looks of more recent Zs.

The interior is attractive too. The version Nissan is showing has a black interior with the seats outlined in a color that’s similar to the exterior color. Imagine if that’s an option – body-color interior trim.

On top of the Z’s dash are three round gauges of some kind. This treatment traces its roots directly back to the original 240Z. What Nissan has done is give a wink to the past but didn’t make a retro car. The interior is nicely laid out – especially noteworthy is the manual transmission shifter. Thankfully, Nissan gets the Z and its audience.


Nissan had already said the Z will be powered by a “V6 twin-turbo,” but that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Our guess – it will be a version of the company’s VR engine making around 350 hp. Better yet, what if the new Z has the VC-Turbo, which is the variable-compression engine that delivers 248 hp in the Altima. Plus, could this engine be beefed up to produce around 300 hp and still manage more than 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving? Probably. In the Altima, that engine delivers a good amount of power with no drama.

Nissan says, “Make no mistake though; the Z Proto packs a powerful punch. Under the elongated hood is an enhanced V6 twin-turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As a prototype, work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.”


While the true nature of a sports car is agility, not just power, we find it interesting that Nissan chose to include this line in their press materials: “Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.” Are they promising more power or warning us that more power is not needed?

However, the new Nissan Z doesn’t need to be 400 hp supercar because of the use of lightweight materials. Nissan says, “Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip, and rear valance ensure nimble performance.”

Here are the dimensions of the new Nissan Z / Z Proto:

  • 172.5 inches long
  • 72.8 inches wide
  • 51.6 inches in height
  • wheels and tires – 255/40R19 in the front
  • wheels and tires – 285/35R19 in the rear

We also know the Proto Z prototype has a “theoretical” six-speed manual transmission and an automatic is in development.

No word on when the new Z will actually be available. Based on the Z Proto, we’re guessing it will be a 2022 Nissan Z and could be ready late 2021 or early 2022. Find a Nissan for sale

Brian Moody
Brian Moody
Brian Moody is an author specializing in transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used, and certified pre-owned advice. He also specializes in liking ridiculous cars like the Buick Reatta, Studebaker Lark, and the GM A-Body wagons from the late 80s and mid-90s. Why? You'd have to ask him. Brian graduated from Cal State Long Beach and has been creating written... Read More about Brian Moody

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best New Cars for 2022

Here is our list of the best new cars for 2022 (presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer).

Best New Car Deals: September 2022

This month's best new car deals include several attractive offers for qualified shoppers.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This