The seventh generation of Nissan's iconic sports car. Despite rumors of a 240Z reboot, a downsized Z is unlikely, as Nissan doesn't have an appropriate architecture to refashion the Z into a lighter, less expensive sports car akin to the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins. Expect a concept car appearing in the next 18 months to indicate a new design direction. The styling will break with the immediate past even as the rest of the package steams ahead on much the same course.
In a lineup fraught with frugal four-cylinders paired with CVTs, the Z is as much an outlier as the GT-R. But Nissan needs the Z to tend the fire, reminding the world of the Datsun days when affordable performance was more of a corporate priority than cross-dressing crossovers. Godzilla may be the halo car, but it now costs six figures.
PLATFORM: The Z will share a chassis with the Infiniti Q50. This new iteration of Nissan's entry-luxury sedan rides on an updated version of the venerable FM platform that underpins the current Z. Nissan will do what it can to keep the weight down, deploying more aluminum along with other pound-paring measures.
POWERTRAIN: The VQ V-6 is a sure bet, but enhanced with direct injection to make at least 350 horsepower. Not even CVT-crazy Nissan is nuts enough to nix the Z's six-speed manual, which should soldier on alongside the current seven-speed automatic. Don't expect to see the Q50's performance hybrid system in the Z, but a Mercedes-designed, turbocharged four-cylinder could be offered. Nissan will be building the smaller-displacement engine, destined for the Q50, in Tennessee.
COMPETITION: Audi TT, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
ESTIMATED ARRIVAL AND PRICE: Early 2015, with a base price just under $35,000.