The Nissan 370Z has soldiered on mostly unchanged since 2009, with no definite plans for a replacement. Now, we've just come across an interesting rumor from Japan that gives us some hope for a new Z. (via ) reports that Nissan is working on a next-generation Z with the help of Mercedes-Benz.
It's an intriguing rumor, but before we delve deeper, Japanese Nostalgic Car's Ben Hsu says we should take the news with a "blizzard-warning load of salt." That said, there are plenty of reasons why a Nissan-Mercedes partnership would make sense in a vehicle like this.
The two automakers have already worked together on the Mercedes GLA-based Infiniti QX30 and the Nissan Navarra-based Mercedes X-Class pickup. Nissan collaborating on a sports-car project would take a page out of Toyota's playbook—recall the partnership with Subaru on the 86/BRZ, and with BMW on the upcoming Supra/Z4. Sales volumes are low when it comes to sports cars like the 370Z and Supra, so automakers are incentivized to share development costs wherever possible. Partnerships are a great way to do so.
Response that the next-gen Z would ride on a Mercedes platform and would offer two turbocharged engine options, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder built by Mercedes or the 400-hp 3.0 V6 from the Infiniti Q60. The Japanese site says a hybrid version is possible, but offers no further details on that drivetrain.
Japanese Nostalgic Car about this potential partnership. As , the Nissan-Mercedes tie-up hit a rough patch in early 2017, though Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said at the time that the collaboration wasn't totally dead. The Infiniti QX50 was supposed to ride on a platform jointly developed with Mercedes, but Infiniti ended up using its own equipment for the car.
, however, claims the rumor of a Mercedes sports car partnership is bunk. The US publication cites anonymous sources saying that Nissan and Mercedes did talk about co-developing a rear-drive sports-car platform at one time, but the idea was scrapped. Apparently the next-gen Z and the Mercedes SLC (née SLK) could've shared a platform, but the SLC .
Over in the UK, separately that the next Z has been green-lit for production, with a concept set to arrive later this year, with the production car debuting in late 2019. Autocar says a four-wheel drive NISMO version with a 475-hp V6 will arrive in 2021 too. We don't know where Autocar got its information, though, so proceed with caution.
Whatever happens, it seems like Nissan is thinking seriously about the Z's future, despite it being a niche product. earlier this year, Nissan chief planning officer Philippe Klein offered some hope for a 370Z successor.
"We're working on it and it's very present, but I have no indication to give you," Klein said. "The Z is a difficult market. It is rather shrinking worldwide. But we still believe there is a place for the Z and we want to keep it alive, and that's what we're working on."
It's also worth noting that next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Datsun 240Z, a car that helped Nissan become a major player in the US. Response seems to think a new Z could be released as part of an anniversary celebration. We're not sure what to expect. And apparently, neither is anyone else.
Update 3/20 3:08 PM: Autocar reports that the next Z has been given the green light and that a Nismo version is on its way, but no sources are cited. We've update the story accordingly.