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Nissan Z Proto 2022: Chief designer explains philosophy behind next Z car


Nissan Z Proto chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura shares his insight into crafting the next-generation Z car that will ride on over 50 years of performance heritage.

Rebirthing a legendary Nissan sports car is a challenge Hiroshi Tamura knows all too well after heading up both the 370Z and current GT-R. Tamura has explained the secret formula he believes will evolve into the next generation Z car. 

Nissan Proto Z 2022 interior Hiroshi Tamura
Nissan Z Proto chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura has explained the philosophy behind the next generation Z car known as the 400Z

Nissan unveiled the Z Proto back in September as a near-production version of what we expect to be called the 400Z and will likely go on sale in early 2022.

The Z Proto drew high praise for its modern take on retro styling, with the coupe sporting an overall resemblance to the original 240Z, and the rear to the 90s 300ZX.

Nissan Z Proto 2021 in yellow
The overall design of the near-production ready Z Proto resembles a modernised version of the original 240Z

As the chief product specialist of the project, Mr Tamura said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of previous Z cars and engineer-in an emotional connection with the driver.

“The Z expresses a striking attitude that first attracts you and then entices you to want a lasting relationship. This is truly unique to Z,” Mr Tamura said.

“Many cars possess good dynamic performance, but the Z makes it easy to enjoy this performance because it creates an emotional relationship with the driver”.

Hiroshi Tamura's Nissan 240Z
Hiroshi Tamura owned a Nissan 240Z growing up (pictured), a car he took pride in tuning up to its maximum potential

Mr Tamura said he would aim to provide a balance between the modern needs of a sports car while honouring the formula of Nissan Z cars, something he knows plenty about having owned both a 240Z and a turbocharged Z31 300ZX.

“My intent for the Z has always been to provide a balance between style, power and technology, all of which can be easily accessed by the customer. The Z must move right, look right and be something that produces a smile on the customer’s face,” he said.

Hiroshi Tamura's Nissan Z31
Mr Tamura also owned a turbocharged Nissan Z31 (pictured)

The Chief Product specialist clearly paid attention to his early Z car ownership, Mr Tamura said he learned “how to tune my cars through lots of trial and error, learning to pay attention to the details, such as the cooling system, the brake system, and much more”. 

“I have so many happy memories owning and driving the Z and GT-R, and to think that I’m now responsible in creating them leaves me speechless,” he said.

Nissan Proto Z 2022 front Hiroshi Tamura
Tamura said he was blown away that he was able to help design the next generation Z car

Accordingly, Nissan has stepped up the performance for the next gen Z car, swapping out the naturally aspirated V6 for a twin-turbocharged unit that will be offered with either a manual or automatic transmission.

The boosted-six will likely be the ‘VR30DDTT’ that was coupled to the Infiniti Q60 coupe. That three-litre engine makes between 224kW and 298kW – or 300hp to 400hp, with the latter possibly explaining the 400Z name. Current torque outputs for the engine are between 400Nm and 475Nm.

Toyota Supra GR 2019 rear
The impressive Toyota Supra will be a key rival for the Nissan 400Z in the Australian market

This Z Proto is based on the same underpinnings as the 370Z, a car that was first released in 2009, itself a reworked version of the 350Z before. The production car has reportedly been upgraded to cope with the increased engine outputs.

When the Nissan 400Z arrives it will be quickly slatted against rivals such as the Toyota Supra in the reemerging segment of reasonably affordable sports cars.

2017 Nissan 370Z NISMO Shiro White Front End
The next generation Nissan Z car will sit on an updated version of the platform used by the outgoing 370Z

It isn’t just Hiroshi Tamura excited about the new Z, though, Chasing Cars recently spoke to Ivan Espinosa, the senior vice president of product planning at Nissan, who explained the three-year process they took in designing the Z Proto.

“After looking at the options and understanding our customer’s preferences and what the customers are looking for, we came to the decision that this mix of being a beautiful homage to some of our past generations was a very good approach,” Mr Espinosa said.

Expect the new Z car to arrive some time in 2022, with more concrete details to follow shortly.