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Tokyo show: Nissan GT-R, 370Z set to live on

Z’s not dead: The 370Z has been around for nearly 10 years but the nameplate could live to see another day as Nissan insists it has “no intention to quit excitement”.

No firm word future of Nissan’s ageing sportscars but electrification could hold key

26 Oct 2017


THE future of Nissan’s iconic GT-R and 370Z sportscars remains uncertain but the rapid shift towards electrification could breathe new life into the Japanese car-maker’s hero models.

The mighty GT-R and the 370Z have been on the market since 2008 and 2009 respectively, receiving a number of updates along the way, but Nissan’s renewed focus on EVs and the expense of developing low-volume performance cars have put their future under a cloud.

By the same token, however, Nissan’s ongoing development work in electrification and its announcement that it will enter Formula E next year has also given rise to the question of high-performance electric powertrains emerging for next-generation versions of ‘Godzilla’ and the Z-car.

Speaking to journalists at the Tokyo motor show this week, Nissan Motor Company senior vice-president of global design Alfonso Albaisa was coy when asked whether the company was working on replacements for the GT-R and 370Z, but suggested he was at least toying with design ideas.

“I can say we don’t have a fixed thing yet,” he said.

“The Z means a little bit different things for different places. But the GT-R probably … is a much more narrow understanding of a car. It is an engineering icon of our company. It is a car that can show up on a racetrack in Germany and behave like a complete monster to all of the local inhabitants. And we are super-proud of that.

“I don’t know what shape it will take. I know the shape I will take (but will be) fired if I mention it. But I can say we are playing around.”

Mr Albaisa said the Z-car had a rich history and was an iconic model for the brand, but added that new electric technology was also worthy of being embraced by Nissan fans.

“We don’t have any plans today to share with you,” he said. “But how can we be completely blind of the importance of that name (Z) in our company? “The first one, the 240, was an icon, not just because it looked so good but also the idea of a car that was affordable but was a real relevant sportscar in its time. You don’t come across concepts that are so rich like that.

“Supercars are somewhat easy to make. They are not technically easy but there is a lot of money and there is a lot of attention. And you make one or a few, but the 240’s beauty was not that. It was almost the democratisation of the true sports experience.

“As I speak maybe you can feel that I love these cars. But I do think EVs and these things are something to embrace and love because they do give us another thing.”

Nissan announced in Tokyo this week that it would enter the Formula E electric racing championships as of December next year in a bid to further position itself as a leader in the EV field.

Mr Albaisa said the move into Formula E would give the brand another injection of excitement, and drew a link between electric performance models and its iconic sportscar duo.

“We announced today Formula E (and) I am sure people are speculating,” he said.

“We are very excited about Formula E because we want to be seen as an EV company so to get involved in racing of EVs is very cool and also to be part of a company that invented the Z, to be part of a company coming up on the 50th anniversary of GT-R, you can’t ignore that.

“More to come. Can’t say too much or I will be taking a train not a car back home.”

Given Nissan’s push into EVs, and previous hints at electric performance models with the BladeGlider concept and even the Leaf Nismo unveiled in Tokyo this week, a future electrified sportscar wearing a Z or GT-R badge is now increasingly likely.

The current GT-R is powered by 419kW/632Nm 3.8-litre V6 engine, while the 370Z uses a 245kW/363Nm 3.7-litre V6. Nissan Australia launched a Nismo version of the 370Z last month, while the Nismo GT-R landed in February.

Nissan Motor Company chief planning officer Philipe Klein was also noncommittal when asked about a replacement for the ageing 370Z, but suggested future performance models were likely.

“We have no announcement to make for this one. It’s an interesting question because there is a lot of passion behind this vehicle. It is still very alive.

At the same time, it is a segment which is gradually declining which is making the case more difficult,” he said.

“We have also the GT-R which we still believe (has) some good potential behind this. And we have in the same category all of the effort we are starting to make on the Nismo side, which is another way to offer excitement to our customers, leveraging the more conventional body style.

“So we have no intention to quit excitement, but (it is) going to happen in different ways.”

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