- nissan just unveiled the new z proto, which previews the next generation of the rear-wheel-drive sports car.
- it's equipped with a six-speed manual, something its primary competitor, the toyota supra, doesn't have (yet).
- both the new z and supra are powered by turbocharged six-cylinder engines.
to make the perfect batch of cookies, you'll need a particular list of ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, baking soda—and if you forget one very important element, for instance, eggs, they'll turn out flat and without substance. it's the same with sports cars, and nissan followed the formula with the new z proto, which is a production-intent preview of the next-gen z: turbocharged engine, rear-wheel drive, sloped roofline, and, thankfully, a manual transmission. nissan's rival, toyota, has also concocted a delectable sports car with the revived supra, although it failed to include that one key ingredient.
toyota has made it clear that it intends to make improvements to the new supra gradually, over its life span—saving the 382-hp version of bmw's six-cylinder engine for the second model year is a perfect example. but the new nissan z, with its standard six-speed manual, puts a lot of pressure on toyota to give the supra the one thing it so desperately needs: a do-it-yourself gearbox. sometimes peer pressure isn't a bad thing, if the outcome is positive. better yet, toyota has even told car and driver in the past that manual-gearbox supra prototypes exist and have been tested. the ball is in your court, toyota.
pair of sixes
both rear-drive sports cars are powered by turbocharged six-cylinder engines. the nissan is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter v-6, which is a modified version of the 300- and 400-hp engine choices available in the infiniti q50 and q60, and the toyota uses a bmw-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that now unleashes 382 ponies and 368 lb-ft of torque. however, the supra's power is routed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission that helped it launch to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds during our testing. nissan hasn't made any performance claims for the new z yet, and the production car will also be available with an automatic transmission.
these two japanese sports cars are even similar in size, both measuring exactly 172.5 inches in length, and they're both around 73.0 inches wide. the supra has a lower profile, though, at 50.9 inches tall, with the z at 51.6 inches—a stance that pays homage to z cars of the past, with the headlights taking cues from the 240z and the taillights from the 300zx.
the production version will likely take the name 400z and should arrive sometime next year. pricing is expected to start in the mid-$40,000 range, right between the four-cylinder 2021 supra 2.0 and six-cylinder supra 3.0, which start at $43,985 and $51,985.