As automakers grow more concerned with tightening fuel economy and emission regulations, dedicated and limited-demand sports cars like the Nissan 370Z get increasingly hard to justify for mainstream car makers.

A new version of the venerable sport coupe is due to hit the market for the 2015 model year, and it sounds like the next generation of Z car will be built to appeal to a wider array of customers. It will be lighter and more fuel-efficient, too.

Though work on the car is still in the initial stages, Inside Line has picked up some details via a conversation with Nissan’s design head, Shiro Nakamura. Insisting that the next Nissan Z “has to have a stronger impact,” Nakamura says the new generation sports car, “should go leaner.”

A turbocharged four-cylinder engine would make the car lighter, and would probably decrease the price as well, broadening the Z’s potential appeal. Like all future Z models, Nakamura insists the car will be infused with “excitement, substance and agility,” and will likely carry more of a family resemblance to other Nissan models.

This report seems to agree with what we’ve previously reported about Nissan and its direction on future sports cars. While a four-cylinder engine can be tuned to produce an impressive amount of power, would such a car qualify as a Nissan Z (which has always utilized a six-cylinder engine, whether it was an in-line six or a V-6)?

We’re not sure than Nissan can justify a three-sports-car lineup, and there’s no denying that a (properly executed) 240SX remake could draw more customers than a redone Z. On the other hand, the Z is integral to Nissan’s corporate identity, even if sales are modest.

What’s your take: is Nissan better off building a lower-performance and higher-volume 240SX, or a new Nissan Z that’s potentially filled with price and fuel economy concessions?


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