New Nissan 400Z sports car spied for the first time

Nissan's new 400Z has been caught on camera in heavy camouflage

Our spy photographers have spotted the new Nissan 400Z for the first time, tackling its road development programme in the United States. The Japanese brand’s latest sports coupe will be unveiled soon and will rival the forthcoming Toyota GR 86 and the replacement for the BMW 2 Series coupe.

The car in these images is heavily camouflaged, but it’s clear to see that the production model’s styling will closely follow that of the Z Proto concept from last year. Like the concept, the 400Z will use a blend of classic Z design cues, with Nissan cherry-picking features from the nameplate’s 50-year history.

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Up front, the semi-circular headlamp units and wide radiator grille are inspired by the original 1969 240Z (also known as the Fairlady Z), although they have been mated to a more modern splitter. The bonnet still shares the same V-shaped power bulge as the original car, though.

The 400Z will also retain the same haunches around the C-pillars as Nissan’s most recent Z-badged coupes, the 350Z and 370Z. Nissan’s recent patent images also show the 400Z will pull inspiration from the 240Z’s tail light design, too, as they’ll be housed in a rectangular frame that runs the width of the rear bumper and wraps around onto the rear wings.

The coupe’s door handles also share their design with the 370Z’s and, although you can’t see them on this development car, the Z Proto concept wore both Z and Fairlady badging, as another nod to its predecessors. One of the badges was also fixed to the car’s C-pillar, just like it was on the 240Z.

Given how closely this test model and Nissan’s patent drawings match up to the Z Proto, we expect the finished car will share the same dimensions as the concept. The prototype measures 4,382mm long, 1,850mm wide and 1,310mm tall, making it around 120mm longer and slightly wider than the current 370Z. Its roofline is also 5mm lower.

We haven’t yet seen the 400Z’s interior. However, the cabin of the Z Proto concept looked ready for production and, like the exterior, we expect it’ll be carried onto the finished car untouched. The concept featured a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel which has the redline shift point at the 12 o’clock position, and a deep-dish steering wheel.

New Nissan 400Z: engine and performance

Nissan hasn’t revealed much about the 400Z’s underpinnings, although the brand has said that it’ll be powered by an “enhanced” twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine which, most importantly, will send drive to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. 

Nissan boss Makoto Uchida said: “With the Z, we’re bringing drivers the excitement of a pure sports car. For more than 50 years we’ve been creating the legend of Z together. The new Z is on its way.”

Unfortunately, though, the 400Z won’t make it to the UK. Nissan was expected to sell the sports car globally, using it as the flagship alternative for its expanding range of SUVs and pure-electric vehicles. But at the Z Proto’s digital reveal, the company confirmed that it had ruled out the European market.

In a statement, Nissan said: “A shrinking European sports car market and specific regulations on emissions mean that Nissan was unable to build a viable business case for the introduction of the production version of the next-generation Z-car in Europe. In Europe, Nissan’s priorities remain its commitment to renew its crossover line-up and accelerate its range electrification strategy.

That means the 400Z’s main market will probably be the United States, where selling a twin-turbo petrol engine should encounter fewer legislative issues. However, it is conceivable that right-hand-drive versions from Nissan’s domestic market in Japan could be sold to UK buyers through an importer.

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