Nissan's Next Z Will Have a Stick Shift, Debuts September 15

The Nissan Z Proto will be a concept, but likely in name only.

nissan z proto manual gearbox

No offense to the Nissan 370Z, but it's fair to say the sports car has long since passed its prime. After all, it first went on sale in 2009, and the 2020 models you can buy today don't look all that different from those decade-old versions. Compared with newer cheap speed machines, the 370Z is underpowered, under-teched, and outclassed.

Luckily, a new Z is coming. (Nissan may be teasing it as the Z Proto, but considering they previewed the GT-R in near-production form under the same nomenclature, we're assuming the concept car will be very, very close to the real thing that hits the streets in 2021 or 2022. And the carmaker's latest video teaser has revealed something we'd expected, but are glad to see confirmed: the next Nissan Z will still offer a manual gearbox.

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In fact, not only does the Z Proto feature a stick shift, but it'll also boast a good old-fashioned physical handbrake lever. It's a surprising move — automotive manufacturers have largely been moving to electronic parking brakes controlled by small switches in an endeavor to maximize precious cabin space — but will likely be a welcome one for anyone who enjoys drifting, which is far, far easier with a manual handbrake. Clearly, Nissan knows its audience.

Based on other teasers, we know the Nissan Z Proto will likely draw design inspiration from past Z cars; the headlights are round units that bring to mind the 240Z and 280ZX, while the wide, horizontal tail lamps are reminiscent of those on the 300ZX, as revealed on Instagram by one of Nissan's designers.

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One big question that remains to be seen: what sort of engine that stick shift will be connected to. Rumors have swirled that the twin-turbo V6 found in the Infiniti Q60 (a car whose chassis the new Z could be based on) might make its way under the hood; that motor makes as much as 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which would be more than enough firepower to bring the new Z in line with the competition.

Also unknown: what the new car will actually be called. Previous Zs have been named based on their engine size; if that trend remains the case, using the Q60's engine would likely bring the return of the 300Z / 300ZX name. Still, no carmaker wants to make their new sports car sound less powerful than its predecessor, so odds seem likely Nissan could abandon the old displacement-based nomenclature and adopt a name like 400Z.

If you want to see the new Z revealed for the first time, Nissan will be livestreaming it on September 15th at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT at (or you can just save this page and click here when the time comes).

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