Concept Cars

Nissan Z Proto shows what is possible for the next chapter in the book of Z

The Nissan Z Proto is the next step in the Z story.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Z Proto has arrived. It's not a production car, it's a promise. A promise by Nissan to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. The model has design elements that harken back to to the Z models of yesteryear that have become iconic waypoints in Nissan history.

Nissan has revealed that the Z Proto is one of the 10 models that the company will be showing for the U.S. in 20 months. The timeline has been adjusted from the original due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other models included as part of the plan are the 2020 Nissan Sentra, 2021 Nissan Rogue, and 2022 Nissan Ariya.

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

"The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model's 50-year history," said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales. "With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms."

The Z Proto is bathed inn a bright yellow pearlescent paint job - one that is reminiscent of the yellow of the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX.

At its front are teardrop-shaped LED headlights that have their design roots in the original Z. The Z Proto's rectangular grille is more modern but the design of the grille fins are vintage in origin.

"The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s," said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan. "The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z's identity."

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

From the side, the Z Proto has a roofline that flows backward like the first-gen Z. It leads to the rear, which takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights and reinterprets them for a modern world, complete with LED lights. They're set within a rectangular black section that spans the rear of the car and wraps around each outer edge. Below is a dual exhaust.

Side skirts, the front lower lip, and rear valance are made of carbon fiber. The prototype rides on 19-inch alloy wheels. The 2020 370Z also has 19-inch wheels.

The vintage-meets-modern elements continue in the car's cabin where design was focused on achieving a proper balance for road and track. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital display that is arranged to allow to easy data interpretation at speed.

Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto's cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches. A deep dish steering wheel combines modern aesthetics with vintage styling.

Under the prototype's hood is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Nissan says that an automatic transmission option is in development. Horsepower and torque figures were not immediately available.

In looking toward the future, Nissan relays, "work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years." The current Z has a 3.7-liter V6 engine that achieves 332 horsepower. It comes paired with a standard six-speed manual or available seven-speed automatic transmission.

Compared to the current Z, the Z Proto is five inches longer and two-tenths of an inch wider. The 2020 Nissan 370Z is two-tenths of an inch taller than the Z Proto.

Where do we go from there? Stay tuned.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The front of the concept is very EV in its design.

Photo courtesy of Honda

The Honda SUV e:concept debuted in China this week signaling what's ahead for a future mass-production model of the Honda brand's first electric vehicle to be introduced in China. While what's sold in China doesn't always make it to American shores, there are a few things to be learned by taking a closer look at the concept.

We know that the vehicle's powertrain is electric. How many motors? What type of battery? How much power? In a nutshell, we have no idea. However, that could be where Honda's relationship with General Motors kicks in. A recent agreement to share platforms and co-build future vehicles builds on the electric vehicle platform sharing agreement the two automakers signed in April. In the first agreement agreement, Honda agreed to work with GM to develop two new electric vehicles based on GM's global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries.

Honda SUV e:concept The sloping roofline of the concept is indicative of another Honda model.Photo courtesy of Honda

The concept's sweeping looks are more crossover than SUV. While there's plenty of doubt that the model will be a two-door vehicle when it arrives in showrooms, its overall aesthetic is new for Honda, though it has hints of the current-generation CR-V and Accord in its nose.

The roofline of the SUV and side profile look a lot like the 2020 Honda Avancier, a true crossover that got its start as a station wagon and now sits as the company's flagship in China. If indeed this model is an electric Avancier, it means that the U.S. market is unlikely to see it.

From a business perspective, this makes sense. Electric vehicles are not nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are in China and Europe, where they have been regulated into residents' lifestyles. Additionally, the U.S. electric vehicle charging infrastructure leaves much to be desired.

2020 Honda Avancier

Photo courtesy of Honda

Cars built for the Chinese market also do not have to meet the same strict safety testing standards as American vehicles so they can be made for less and sold for less. Upping to U.S. standards costs more and, when shipping and taxes are added in, the model may be priced out of sensibility for American Honda customers.

Wherever it's destined to go, the Honda will be a mass-production electric vehicle.

The company is committed to equipping the car with a number of safety technologies including omnidirectional advanced driver assistance systems, the next-generation Honda SENSING safety and driver-assistive system with improved recognition, predication and decision-making performance, as well as the next-generation Honda Connect, which features an AI assistant interface, smartphone link, and wireless updates.

Honda SUV e:concept The model features a unique black end with slim lights.Photo courtesy of Honda

Expect to see the next steps in the evolution of this concept in the coming year, even if it's just in spy photos.

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The design study gives customers an idea of what to expect out of the next-gen QX60

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

It’s not the next-gen Infiniti QX60, but it is darn close. The Infiniti QX60 Monograph is a concept car and design study of the forthcoming new version of the three-row SUV.

"We commenced the design of the Monograph knowing this was an opportune time to start a discussion about where we are planning to take the QX60 in the future and more broadly, where we are heading as a brand with our design language'" said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president, Global Design, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Slim headlights and an athletic stance make the face of the SUV unique.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Consider it a detailed plan. Even Infiniti itself is relaying that the QX60 Monograph “provides tangible insight” into the new model from proportions to design elements. With the new QX60, Infiniti looks to not break the mold, which their buyers love, but instead refine what customers expect.

"In crafting this Monograph, we wanted to change the tonality of the QX60 and transform the nameplate from a sculptural and architectural point of view. We raised the visual center of gravity, giving it a strong, straight shoulder line that carries through to the hood, with a higher, more prominent grille, and longer-looking cabin to deliver a sense of muscularity and a commanding presence" Albaisa said.

The QX60 Monograph is more muscular than the current QX60, with distinctive athletic styling that sets it apart from the usual SUV crowd and gives it its own Infiniti identity. A long wheelbase, teardrop-like greenhouse, and sweeping lines give the SUV a new profile. A horizontal window line and wide backside are designed to give the concept a sense of poise and stability.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The SUV’s grille features a fresh design.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti is showcasing the QX60 Monograph with a platinum plant color that mimics the qualities of liquid metal. It features a black roof that is on-trend for the current design environment. On top of the car is a panoramic roof that features a “kimono fold” pattern.

"The QX60 Monograph embodies the Japanese concept of 'Ma,' a sense of minimalism where designers seek harmony, adding just the right amount of elements with very specific meaning to create something special. This is evident on the body, where at a glance it is simple, but when you get closer, you see that there are elements that are playing against each other in a sense of harmony." Albaisa explains.

At the front of the SUV is a new take on the traditional Infiniti grille - a two dimensional surface that projects a sense of three-dimensional depth. It’s a mesh pattern that repeats on the car’s side intakes.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Infiniti has given the SUV a black roof.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti calls the lighting at the front and rear of the SUV “Digital Piano Key” technology saying that it projects a “futuristic appearance”. The taillights are tinted and appear to wrap around the sides of the vehicle. The lamps are accompanied by a glowing “infinite road” brand emblem.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The model’s taillights appear to wrap around the vehicle.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The interior of the model was not shown and not detailed as part of this design study. It is expected that a thoroughly modern, new interior is on tap for the next-gen QX60.

The production version of the next generation QX60 is expected in 2021.

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