The Next Nissan Z Won't Be a Bargain-Basement Sports Car

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Despite its advanced age the 370Z still has a place in Nissan’s lineup.

“We’re not going to walk away from the nameplate, and it’s certainly something we’re studying and working through right now,” Michael Bunce, vice president of product planning at Nissan North America, Inc. said.

Though it’s increasingly difficult for the Z to compete, particularly with models brandished by the Detroit three. It seems every year the American muscle-car triad brings more horsepower and innovation to market.

Despite Bunce’s reassurance the 370Z will remain, there are questions about how Nissan can justify keeping such a low-volume model around. Dealers moved just 4,614 copies in the U.S. last year. In comparison, Dodge delivered more than 64,000 Challengers in 2017. Chevrolet stores did even better, pushing out just shy of 68,000 Camaros. But taking the proverbial cake (and hopefully it’s chocolate with a buttercream frosting…) is the Ford Mustang. Nearly 82,000 galloped out of showrooms over the previous 12 months.

SEE ALSO: New Nissan Altima ‘Imminent,’ Exec Says

Even with strong headwinds Bunce seems optimistic. “It’s always been part of Nissan heritage,” he said. “And I think it’s fair to say, even if you’re not a car enthusiast and you mention 240 or 370, most people would say ‘Nissan’ or ‘Datsun’ right after that.” Nameplate recognition is important.

Of course, he wouldn’t share specific details about the next-generation Z car, but Bunce had a thing or two to say about some of the more-affordable rivals in this segment. “One thing we’ve noticed is you don’t need to be necessarily hyper-economical, either. It doesn’t need to be twenty-three-or-four-thousand [dollars],” he said, likely referencing models like the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins or the entry-level Camaro. Continuing, Bunce explained that the last thing you want to do is make an emotional purchase like this and then be let down by the performance.

These comments could indicate the next-generation Z will be an aspirational model, one brimming with style, technology and power, not a vehicle that competes on price.

Even though Nissan’s venerable sports car doesn’t sell in large volumes it still helps the company move plenty of more-mainstream vehicles. “We know that any investment you make in Z does have a payback in terms of its impact to our brand,” acknowledged Bunce. The car is an “important asset” and “it’s not going anywhere,” he added.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 3 comments
  • Smartacus Smartacus on Jan 19, 2018

    they need a 400z with a 4.0 V8 ...perhaps from Daimler

  • K03sport K03sport on Jan 19, 2018

    so, Nissan going to take a car that is over-priced and selling poorly because it is not competitive more expensive and expect it to sell better...hmmm, let me check my math..."Wrong Answer". This doesn't make sense, UNLESS, Nissan is going to use the Z platform to challenge the new Supra/Z4 and make it (the Z) a GREAT car that deserves to have a price in the 40s/50s. Nissan needs a low/mid 20s sports car in the US/CAN now (Sentra/Altima SR/NISMOs don't cut it) if the Z move upmarket, Nissan has a nice hole for the rebirth of the 240SX/S14/15 "Silvia" style FR car that people googoo-gaga over. Yes, challenge the '86/BRZ head on; put the MX-5 in its place; take down Mustang Ecoboosts and give the car buying public a good, affordable, multi-trim sports coupe starting in the low/mid 20s that is worth buying because it is worth driving. (DO NOT bring back the horrendous Altima Coupe). Why do I have to fix every automakers car problems?