400Z @Nissan

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The Nissan Esflow Concept from 2011. Not a new Z, although it doesn’t look bad.

Another week, another series of rumors and ambiguous reports about a new Nissan Z. See, now that a new Toyota Supra is really happening, everyone’s rightfully wondering if Nissan has what it takes to shake out of its CVT-Rogue Sport-Monday Night Football-Star Wars-March Clearance Deal malaise and offer us something that’s actually worth a damn to drive. Here is the latest story making the rounds, but let me be the first to raise the bullshit flag.

Last week we were wondering—with a great deal of skepticism while noting its plausibility—whether Nissan could team with sometimes-partner Mercedes to develop the next Z, much like Toyota did with BMW. Motor Trend reports this incredibly long shot rumor was shot down by sources within both companies. Darn.

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So what’s next? A round of typically vague, unsourced reporting comes to us from the UK’s Autocar. It’s full of good news and big promises! The car will be called the 400Z! A twin-turbo V6 engine with, best of all, a Z-first all-wheel drive 475 horsepower Nismo version—arriving in just three years!

Let’s break down what it says:

Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa told Autocar last year that he was in favour of a new Z car to replace the 370Z. He said the sports car market was a challenging one but was “personally advocating” a new Z car.

I get that, and Albaisa makes nice-looking cars, but “personally advocating” doesn’t really mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of product development at a huge corporation. I’ve been “personally advocating” for an iron lung so Jason and also his external other brain can visit the New York office for years now, but it’s been shot down at every turn. Moving on:

The new sports car is expected to be shown in coupé guise before the end of next year ahead of UK sales starting in 2020, some 50 years after the original Z car arrived here.

The forthcoming model is known internally as the Z35 – a codename that continues a process started with the Z31 model launched in 1983. It has been twinned with the next Infiniti Q60, with which it will share its rear-wheel-drive platform, engine line-up and electric system, according to senior officials from Nissan.

And the regular version is just two years away, despite no mules, no prototypes, no concepts, no spy photos or any other evidence that it exists at all. Except, I guess, for the Nissan Z concept that appeared at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

Oh wait, that didn’t happen.

Although it’s still early days, Autocar understands that Nissan intends to reveal the styling of the new Z car in concept form at the 2018 Tokyo motor show in October. The definitive production version is then planned to be unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles motor show.

This Tokyo show! That’s where it will be, for sure. It’ll be there right next to the new Mazda rotary engine. We just have to believe.

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Anyway, the implausibility of this story didn’t stop the rubes of the automotive press from running with it:

God, that’s depressing.

Anyway, I’ll believe a new Z is happening when I see it. After the fiasco that was the Nissan IDX Concept, I’m not sure Nissan has the means or the will to give us a new Z—and probably not a business case, either.

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Actually I’ll believe it when I see it on dealer lots and a salesperson tries to talk me up into a Murano instead.

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