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The Nissan Z.Courtesy of manufacturer

It’s official: Nissan’s new performance coupe will be known simply as the “Z.”

In all of its previous six generations, the name of Nissan’s sports car reflected the ever-increasing size of its engine; the outgoing 370Z had a 3.7-litre V6 engine, for example. For the first time, this all-new car has a smaller engine and it’s turbocharged.

Industry watchers had expected it to be called the 400Z. That could still work because the new car will produce a claimed 400 hp, up significantly from the 332 hp of the previous model and the 350 hp of the previous Nismo. Nissan claims an estimated 15 per cent improvement in zero-to-100 km/h acceleration, which was formerly around five seconds.

This is a pivotal time for makers of performance cars, as all manufacturers prepare to switch away from gasoline and toward electrification. Nissan’s venerable coupe was first introduced in 1969 and the previous generation debuted in 2008. The new Z might be the last of the line to be powered solely by internal combustion, which could be another reason for simplifying the name.

The new V6 under the hood is the same twin-turbo 3.0-litre engine that powers the Red Sport edition of the Infiniti Q60; both cars also claim a torque output of 350 lbs.-ft. that kicks in at 1,600 rpm.

The Infiniti is an all-wheel-drive car but the new Z is unabashedly a rear-wheel-drive performance vehicle, as it has always been. There will be two versions when it comes to Canadian showrooms early next year, the Sport and the more expensive Performance, as well as a limited-edition Proto Spec version, but all will have the same powertrain.

No prices have yet been released, but the 2020 370Z had a basic MSRP of $30,498, rising to $49,000 for the more powerful Nismo.

“Z is the pure expression of thrill,” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan Motor Co.’s representative executive officer, in a press release. “The new Z retains its authenticity as a pure sports car to keep you connected to the road while bringing in the latest modern technologies to make sure the car can help keep you connected to your life.”

The new Z retains the long hood, short deck, and low rear of the previous generations, as well as a squared-off grille, but with shallow, elongated LED lights at front and back. All versions will be available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and both drivetrains include launch control as standard.

Nissan says the new Z has a stiffer body, using larger shocks in the front double-wishbone suspension and new settings for the rear independent multi-link aluminum suspension. Wider tires on the front are claimed to increase cornering G-forces by up to 13 per cent, while Nissan says the electronic power steering has a “strong mechanical feel.”

Inside the cabin, digital instrumentation is focused on the driver, while the deep-dish steering wheel and analogue gauges on the centre stack for boost, turbo speed, and volts, add a “vintage aesthetic” to the experience. Of course, all models will include a wide range of Nissan’s safety technology, including blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning.

The Performance edition will include a mechanical limited-slip differential, larger brakes, larger 19-inch wheels, dual exhaust, leather seating on powered and heated seats, and an upgraded sound system. It will also have a sport-tuned suspension, and rev-matching for its manual transmission.

The limited-edition Proto Spec will be different from the Performance only in appearance, including yellow brake calipers, bronze wheels, and yellow-accented leather seats.

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