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The Next Nissan Z Won’t be a Bargain-Basement Sports Car

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The Next Nissan Z Won’t be a Bargain-Basement Sports Car

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.

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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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