The Z Proto Is a Cartoon and We Don’t Hate It

Nissan unveiled its new Z car and its striking features.

Before the big reveal, we wrote a list of four things we wanted to see from the Z Proto. Needless to say, none of those wishes came true.

Instead, Nissan unveiled a Z Proto that was reassuringly familiar and yet strikingly updated.

The unveiling presentation opened with some shots of the Z Proto in action. Then, Nissan’s CEO, Makoto Uchida, arrived on stage in the new Z to kick off the show. Adam Carolla made an appearance from Nashville, where he was attending the ZCON festival.

Although the show featured several presenters highlighting various aspects of the new prototype, all eyes were on the car itself.

First impressions are the most visceral. It’s very yellow. The grille is very square.

The headlights are very reminiscent of the Fiat 124 Spider.

There are some obvious design cues taken from earlier iterations of the Z. That blocky rectangular grille is a clear nod to the 350Z, but taken to an extreme fitting of 2020. The rear, with its linear taillight placement, is a nod to the back of the 300ZX. The headlights, despite their similarity to the aforementioned Fiat, are an obvious homage to the 240Z and 280Z.

We suspect that the new design will grow on us. It’s handsome in a cartoony sort of way, with an absurdly oversized grille and an aggressively swept-back roofline. The two-tone paint job is snazzy as well, although the yellow is a bit reminiscent of limoncello.

As suspected, the new Z will feature a twin-turbocharged V6, which all but guarantees that it will have the necessary power to carry the Z torch.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Z Proto is a prototype. There’s no question that Nissan will be refining the front fascia, which looks unadorned other than the giant grille opening. There are no fog lamps or turn signals visible.

The Z Proto is a bold statement from Nissan, a company that has been stagnant and slipping further behind its competitors. It’s a bit gaudy, but there’s plenty of time for Nissan to refine before it reaches the finished product.