Nissan has been doing a lot of things wrong recently. At a time when most manufacturers are at near record levels, the Japanese automaker has seen a 10% slump in car sales. Nissan’s halo car, the R35 GT-R, was a force to be reckoned with back in 2009, but now is just an aging dinosaur that’s been ready for a refresh for years! And its tried and true sports car, the 370Z, is in dire need of a makeover as well!
But guess what! They’re giving us exactly what we’ve been asking for! For a brand that’s had an identity crisis for years, the Fairlady 400Z is a glimmer of hope we really thought they’d never build! But they are, and we’re going to dig into why Nissan finally did something right with the new 400Z!
For the Enthusiasts
It feels like so many auto manufacturers have forgotten about us enthusiasts. Yes, cars are now much faster, heck, sometimes they’re too fast! And yes, cars have become way more high-tech! And don’t even get me started on battery-operated cars that drive themselves! But the one thing that trumps all the horsepower figures, G’s they can pull, and how much artificial exhaust sound it can pump into the cabin is the pure driving experience!
I mean, all that really matters for a sports car on the road is miles per gallon, baby! And that’s a pedestal Nissan has stood on for decades with the Fairlady Z! Back in 1970, the first Nissan Fairlady 240Z hit American shores with a 2.4-liter inline-6. It wasn’t a speed demon, but it was a looker that embraced the analog driving experience enthusiasts live for!
And that successful recipe continued with the wildy popular 280ZX that was MotorTrend’s import car of the year in 1979. Then they dropped the heat with a fully redesigned Z31 300ZX introduced in 1984, and again with the instant classic Z32 300ZX, which is probably the most underrated JDM car of the 90s, followed by the much more contemporary Nissan 350Z, and the latest 370Z, which if you’ve never thought about buying one, I bet after you will after reading this!
And the reason each generation of Z was so successful was they stayed true to their roots. You get a confidence-inspiring, front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car with a manual transmission!
Save the Manuals
Nissan’s not messing around with the replacement for the ancient 370Z. The new kid in town, the 400Z, codenamed Z35, will have a revvy twin-turbo V6 pumping out up to 400 horses, an updated roofline with a few retro touches, and a modern makeover in the interior! Finally!
Plus, I can’t believe I get to say this, it’s going to have a slick-shifting manual transmission! And, as we all know, manual transmissions are dying! Let me explain. By now, you all know about the C8 Corvette and how it’s a supercar killer! But you know what? I hate the C8 Corvette!
It’s not because the rear quarter panels look weird, which they really do! Nor is it the fact that it’s continuing to push the boundaries of what the definition of a sports car is. Wait, that’s not something to hate! What I don’t like is that the GM engineers forgot about us enthusiasts. They forgot about the fun pedal that makes for an awesome driving experience!
With the flappy paddles, you feel like you’re driving your iPhone! If it had a manual, it would feel like you’re texting with T9 on your razr flip-phone. Yeah, believe it or not, it used to be a somewhat analog and rewarding experience to send a single text message!
And I bet you guys also remember how hype the Mk5 Supra was! You can’t tell me that most of you weren’t bummed to find out this BMW-in-Toyota-clothing wasn’t going to let you shift your own gears! And it’s such a shame, because that Getrag V160 6-speed gearbox was so much better than the autotragic!
I could go on and on and on about our favorite sports and supercar models that will or already have killed off the manual transmission! NSX! R8! Ford GT! Alfa 4C! Unfortunately, it makes sense that every manufacturer at some time or another would give the 3rd pedal the axe! In the automotive world, just like business, if you’re aren’t evolving, you’re dying. And just like the dinosaurs, the manual transmission will go extinct!
They Got It Right
Nissan, a car company down in the dumps, is doing one thing right by listening to our enthusiast battle cry! The 400Z is going to be a heavily reworked 370Z, which as you know, is a good looking, front-engine, rear-wheel drive drift missile with a fun-loving disposition!
Currently, the Z chassis is offered with a manual transmission, so it would make sense that the twin-turbo 3-liter V6 with 400 horsies in the 400z would have the option to row your own gears. And, well, I just about blew my top when I saw one specific clip of Nissan’s latest teaser!
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That hand just went on a manual shifter! Nissan has not given up on us, or the manual transmission! Save the manuals, baby! So, that’s why it was so refreshing to hear that they’d listen to the enthusiast at a time that most manufacturers are giving us the middle finger!
This new 400Z is going to be epic! I think I can speak on behalf of most of us enthusiasts that we’re all pretty excited!
Now, although it’s going to be heavily reworked, I bet the 400Z is going to be pretty much the same car. Think of the evolution of the veteren 350Z to the 370Z. It was an evolutionary, not revolutionary, change. And I bet this 400Z will follow that tradition, which isn’t a bad thing, because Porsche has been doing the exact same thing with the 911 chassis for the past 50+ years, and I think it’s worked out pretty well for them!
I mean, at some point you realize you can’t rework the chassis for massive gains anymore, and since the 370Z is such a fun and capable car already, it makes sense that Nissan would just sprinkle incremental improvements on the 400Z!
You’ll see some new lights, wheels, a revised roofline, and of course, an uptick in horsepower! But the reason I’m extremely interested in this new Z is that, if they keep it on the same platform, the aftermarket opportunities right out of the gate are endless! Think about it, we all know that the 370Z takes mods extremely well, and if a large portion of those performance bits will bolt right onto the 400Z, it’s going to be a tuner hero’s dream car right from the start!
And the cherry on top? A manual 6-speed transmission! So, Nissan, the ball is in your court, and we know you’ve had a rough time lately. You’re building a “new” car on the FM platform that dates back to the 2001 model year Skyline, but hey, you can teach an old dog new tricks! I think we as auto enthusiasts are cautiously optimistic you might do something right for the first time in quite a while.
So, don’t f**k this up! You got a good thing cooking!