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Nissan Z Proto is a four-wheeled love letter to driving purists

This near-production model is the first tangible sign we've seen of a Nissan 370Z successor, and it's a good one.

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Chris Paukert
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
Nissan Z Proto side view
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After many years of rumors, the Nissan Z Proto proves that a successor to today's Z-Car is coming.

This rear-wheel-drive sports car is one for driving enthusiasts, powered by a twin-turbo V6 stirred by a six-speed manual transmission.

Nissan Z Proto front three-quarter view
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Although Nissan isn't quoting displacement or power numbers, the next Z is widely anticipated to bring 400 horsepower to the table.

Nissan Z Proto - rear three-quarter view
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The Z Proto wears its influences on its sleeve -- you'll find design cues borrowed from previous generations of Z all over its shapely flanks.

Nissan Z Proto - front three-quarter view
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Up front, take a look at those LED headlamps that riff on the original 240Z's famed "sugar-scoop" headlamps.

Nissan Z Proto - high rear three-quarter view
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The rear end's lighting borrows from the 1990s' Z32 generation.

Nissan Z Proto profile view, facing right
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The production model is rumored to be called the 400Z, although company officials aren't confirming anything.

Nissan Z Proto dashboard
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The Z Proto's interior is arguably more modern than its exterior, thanks mostly to the inclusion of large screens. 

The gauge cluster is a 12.3-inch digital display, and the infotainment system features a much larger and crisper display than what's available on today's ancient 370Z.

Nissan Z Proto seats
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Even the bucket seats look similar to some models past.

Nissan Z Proto cabin
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Note the presence of a manual, lever-style handbrake. Nissan knows you need one to pretend you know how to drift.

Nissan Z Proto driver's seat
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Although unconfirmed, the next Z is understood to ride on a version of the current car's long-serving chassis.

As a result, even though the Proto Z is 5 inches longer than today's car, it's possible that if you were too tall to get comfortable in today's 370Z, you might have issues with the new car, as well.

Nissan Z Proto front end
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Though not a production model, the Z Proto is said to be around 98% of what we'll see in dealers come 2022.

Nissan Z Proto headlights
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The production version of this slipstream coupe is slated to debut sometime next year, but it's going to be a while before we see it on the street.

Nissan Z Proto grille
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A rectangular air intake seems slightly oversized, as if Nissan has the aftermarket front-mounted intercooler industry in mind.

Nissan Z Proto Taillights
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Keep scrolling for more images of the Nissan Z Proto.

Nissan Z Proto - Z badge
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Nissan Z Proto headlight closeup
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Nissan Z Proto - low front three-quarter view
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Nissan Z Proto - front wheels and nose
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Nissan Z Proto - rear wheels and tail
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Nissan Z Proto - distant profile view
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Nissan Z Proto on concrete
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Nissan Z Proto - front high three-quarter view
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Nissan Z Proto skid marks
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Nissan Z Proto - rear over-the-shoulder view
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Nissan Z Proto with building
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Nissan Z Proto with Datsun 240Z
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