Next-gen GT-R and Z confirmed

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Nissan’s iconic sports cars will live to see another generation.

At the 2024 New York auto show, Senior Vice President and Chief Planning Officer for Nissan North America, Ponz Pandikuthira, told Motor Authority the GT-R and Z nameplates won’t die, though they might take time to be reinvented.

Senior Vice President of Nissan Alfonso Albaisa went further by laying out a vision for Motor Authority of what the next GT-R and Z might look like.

Nissan Hyper Force concept

GT-R looks to Formula E, retains four seats

After 16 years, the R35 GT-R is nearing the end of its lifecycle with a pair of special editions. Pandikuthira confirmed it will end production soon. 

“The next generation of the GT-R has to be an authentic GT-R,” Pandikuthira said. To that end, the GT-R is born, bred, and tested on the racetrack, according to the executive. If the GT-R were to go all-electric, it couldn’t be capable of just one lap on the Nürburgring and then have to stop, charge, and cool down. Performance in near-race conditions will not be compromised in a GT-R, according to Pandikuthira.

The engineering team at Nissan is waiting on technology to advance. Pandikuthira noted a powertrain for the next-generation GT-R has not been locked in or defined yet, but he did confirm Formula E is a test-bed for next-gen GT-R development.

The executive acknowledged today’s batteries in EVs are heavy. Weight is the enemy of a sports car. Pandikuthira pointed to Nissan’s success in Formula E racing, noting that McLaren’s team just won in Sao Paulo. That race car was built and designed by Nissan, Pandikuthira noted.

In 2021 Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida confirmed the next-generation GT-R will ride on a new platform 

Nissan Hyper Force concept

Nissan Hyper Force concept

Albasia noted the Hyper Force concept that debuted at the 2023 Tokyo auto show did not sport a GT-R badge. But in the same breadth he noted that the Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo from 2014 wears a design language from a previous timeline.

Hallmarks of the GT-R nameplate will live on. Like past models, the next GT-R will be able to be driven to the track, on the track, and used as a daily driver with seating for four. Godzilla needs to be an “ugly car, menacing car,” according to Albasia. 

Nissan Hyper Force concept

Nissan Hyper Force concept

The Nissan design studio currently has competing forms for the R36 GT-R on the drawing board. The design has not been locked in yet. Albasia indicated that the R36 will likely carry over its signature quad-taillight design but noted it doesn’t have to be done in the traditional sense. The Hyper Force concept had four taillights that weren’t actually round, but appeared round because of the definition of the transparent slits sliced into the lighting elements and bodywork.

1990 Nissan 300ZX and 2023 Nissan Z I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

1990 Nissan 300ZX and 2023 Nissan Z I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

Next Z might break the mold, again

The latest Z, which debuted in 2021, is only two model years into its current lifespan. It has a long runway, according to Pandikuthira. The powertrain will pass emissions regulations for the latest model’s shelf life, Pandikuthira said. Then Nissan will address a new Z, Pandikuthira said.

The current Z wasn’t even supposed to exist. It was a skunkworks project

While early in the design phase with random sketches floating about, Albaisa noted that the 350Z, introduced for the 2003 model year, broke from the past and featured a progressive design that the 370Z, which arrived in 2009, evolved upon. Today’s Z looks to the past with retro styling cues from both the 240Z and the Z32 300ZX. 

Albaisa said a new Z would have to either be a full-on new iteration of the 240Z or once again break from tradition completely and feature a progressive design. There will be no in between, he promised.

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