LOS ANGELES -- The Datsun 240Z sports car of the 1970s was iconic. Sleek, reliable, and modern for the times.
And Nissan will be continuing the Z legacy in 2022 with a clean-sheet design.
"This vehicle is pretty much all-new," Jonathan Buehler, a Nissan spokesman said.
The next Z, arriving next spring as a 2023 model, honors the iconic sports car's history with subtle touches here and there. As soon as you see it, you should pretty much know exactly what it is.
"This is a complete combination of almost every single generation of Z. And our design team did a fantastic job of modernizing and interpreting that in a modern way, to not make it so 'retro,' but make it a retro-modern kind of feel," Buehler said.
Little styling touches that are reminiscent of the original 240Z, and even later iterations of the Z, both on the outside and inside. For example, the three dials on top of the center dash are a signature item interpreted into the new Z, but they're combined with a modern display screen right in front of the driver.
When the original Z came out in the 1970s, it was a sensation from the get-go. People waited in line to get them, and it really put Nissan, then sold as Datsun, on the automotive map. But today, tastes are a little different.
Most car shoppers these days buy some sort of SUV, and sports cars fall way down the pecking order in terms of popularity.
But some brands are not giving up on four-wheeled fun, and the Z is among several new ones coming along in 2022. On the heels of the Toyota Supra is a revamp of the more affordable Toyota GR 86. The fun continues in a second-generation version, for a starting price of around $30,000.
And it's had a cousin from the get-go in the form of the Subaru BRZ, which also gets a redesign for its next generation. Power is up, and the fun factor should be up as well. It's not like other Subaru models, on purpose.
And the new Z is not like anything else Nissan sells these days. But it's too important a car, and sub-brand, to let current tastes send it packing.
"This new car will continue that Z lineage into the future, so it was key for us to maintain that, regardless of what the markets like," Buehler said.
Correction: A previous headline for this story stated that the new Nissan Z sports car would arrive in 2023. The car will go on sale in the spring of 2022 as a 2023 model.