The Nissan Z(ombie) just won’t die

Chris Davies - Jan 29, 2018, 4:06pm CST
The Nissan Z(ombie) just won’t die

Nissan can’t bring itself to pull the plug on the Nissan Z but, while it’ll keep the current model alive, the future of the nameplate is still unclear. The Japanese company’s sports car has been a long-standing member of the Nissan line-up, with six generations spanning the decades from 1969. However, you could easily assume Nissan forgot all about it in recent years.

Indeed, the current mode, the Nissan 370Z, has been around since 2009, and while there have been tweaks and refinements made in the intervening years, they’ve all been pretty minimal. In contrast, the sports car segment has exploded around the Z car.

Rivals have undercut it on price, offered greater comfort and refinement, and ousted it on power and performance. The 2018 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6 engine may have been competitive back when it launched, but its 332 horsepower looks on the conservative side these days. Indeed, the automaker sold just 4,614 units in the whole of 2017, down more than 1,200 cars from the year prior.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, there have been suggestions that Nissan might pull the plug on the car altogether, despite how popular the badge has been traditionally. Whether it would be replaced – and if so, by what – is another controversial topic. Indeed, there had even been suggestions that Nissan could go a particularly unusual route, and replace the current 370Z with a sports crossover based on the Gripz concept from 2015.

That fate remains unclear, but it seems the current car isn’t going anywhere quite yet. “There’s strong interested within the company for the Z to live on,” a Nissan source told Motor Authority. While that may not add up to a refresh any time soon, it does at least mean that Nissan intends to keep updating the 370Z so that it complies with whatever regulatory requirements around safety, emissions, and other factors would be demanded so that it could stay in dealerships.

Beyond that, it depends on what Nissan believes it can sell. Crossovers and SUVs are undoubtedly the star performers of the automotive market right now, but Z car enthusiasts might be reluctant to embrace their beloved nameplate on a completely different body style. All the same, launching a new, cost-effective coupe or convertible that could be competitive with the rest of the segment is easier said than done.

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