Ultimate Nissan 400Z Guide

author avatarJoe Terrell
05/08/20208th May, 2020
Filed under Car Guides

With the Nissan 400Z rumors gaining more traction than ever, it’s time to take a look at the facts and myths of the latest Z-car.

nissan 400z render

Here, you can click on a particular section within this article, otherwise, scroll down as we cover all of the details you could possibly want to know about the Nissan 400Z.


nissan 240z

It has now been over fifty years since the initial launch of Nissan’s legendary Z-car family, which began with the incredible 240Z back in 1969.

They say that time flies, and that’s certainly true when you consider that it’s already been almost twelve years since Nissan began rolling out their brand new 370Z into Japanese car showrooms in 2008, before eventually hitting the US market in early 2009.

Fast forward two years, and we’ll be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the 350Z. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel pretty damn old.

nissan 350z drifting

I mean, even the GT-R will be celebrating its thirteenth birthday this year!

Let’s face it; Nissan seems to have dropped the ball in the sports car market since the launch of the most recent rebirth of ‘Godzilla.’

In the meantime, their rivals, Toyota, have launched the GT86 and the Supra.

Whatever your feelings are about the new Supra, there’s no question that it’s modern and ticks a lot of the right boxes, besides being awkwardly European.

In the twenty years between 1969 and 1989, Nissan went from the stunning, JDM old-school cool Hakosuka to the modern-day JTCC-killing Skyline R32.

Both cars proudly wore the ‘Skyline’ badge, but truth be told, they’re worlds apart, yet they’re both insanely cool in their own, unique way.

Take a moment to compare the Skyline legacy with what Nissan has achieved within the Z-car family in a similar time-span.

As much as we love the Z-cars, it has to be said; It’s been a slightly underwhelming era.

Sure, two fantastic cars have been born, but there’s no real question that they’re incredibly similar, and not just in the looks department, either.

If you want to see the exact similarities, we recently put the two cars head-to-head in our 350z Vs 370z – What’s Best? article, which comes highly recommended for all you Z-car lovers.

Although the 370z has had several revisions since launch, it still features the same chassis and engine from the day of release, unlike the 350z, which saw some significant engine changes in its lifetime.

As time has gone on, many modern-day alternatives have long surpassed the 370’z naturally-aspirated VQ37VHR engine.

Unless you strap a turbocharger or supercharger to the VQ37VHR, you’re likely to be left underwhelmed by the power delivery.

With the 400z rumor mill heating up at a quicker rate than ever, is this going to be the perfect opportunity for Nissan to re-write their history books in time for the 20th Anniversary, or are they merely planning to launch another slightly-revised improvement?

yellow concept car rumor nissan 400z

There’s a gap in the market right now for a rear-wheel-drive sports coupé from Nissan. If they can build a Supra competitor that isn’t a BMW in disguise at a reasonable price-point, then we have no doubt it could be a real success.

Especially with the Nissan S16 surfacing anytime soon looking increasingly unlikely.

Also, if you’ve been following Nissan in the news recently, you’ll know that it’s no secret that they could do with some good fortune right now.

So, what exactly is in store for the 400Z?

Will the brand new Z35 be gifted with a groundbreaking new chassis?

Will Nissan continue their trend with the ‘400’ meaning a 4.0L powerplant? Or have Nissan’s plans changed?

It’s time to take a look at everything you could want to know about the 400Z in this guide.

Before we start, take a moment to recap the history of Nissan’s infamous Z-car in this fantastic video from Donut Media:


Nissan 400Z – What we know

Nissan has recently fueled the 400Z rumor fire by filing for a brand new ‘Z’-based trademark with the Government of Canada.

Although this may seem like a small move, it’s reassuring to see that they’re planning to take new steps with the Z-car, and if they’re revamping the badge, could this be a hint that the car is likely to get a significant overhaul, too?

With the design of the badge supposedly featuring a retro design, which dates back to the original 240Z, it looks like they may well be looking to impress this time around.

nissan 240z rumour nissan 400z

There is every possibility that the attention which Toyota has recently received with the Supra could have awoken the sleeping Fairlady.

The most likely 400z scenario features a twin-turbo powered V6 powerplant under the hood. If this is true, the 399bhp on tap would undoubtedly cause an upset to the 335bhp Supra.

If they can also keep the weight and the price down, it could have the potential to completely change the game in the affordable rear-wheel sports coupé sector.

Autocar spoke to the Nissan planning boss, Ivan Espinosa last year, who confirmed that a plan was in place for the new model, stating “can expect something soon” on a new Z model.

Alfonso Albaisa, head of design, also stated that it was “easy to imagine” a successor to the 370Z.

red release date nissan 400z

Albaisa had the following to say to Autocar, “The Z is the car that democratized sports cars back in the ’60s. Before that, you had to have the money to buy a Porsche or Jaguar. The current car has been a long time in dealerships, and so you can imagine the designers working on a successor, even if I’m not going to confirm it.”

There’s certainly no doubt that the sudden Coronavirus pandemic has caused some unforeseen headaches in Nissan’s plans, and given that Nissan had already posted losses in the final quarter of 2019, their future remains uncertain.

After confirming their first quarterly loss since the 2009 global financial crisis, their lack of exciting new models caused its shares to fall a whopping 27% in 2019.

Although their confirmed plans feature an SUV and a pick-up, could a potentially revolutionary sports coupé provide the much-needed helping hand to get the company back on its feet?


Nissan 400Z Design

With the trademark of the new badge, many enthusiasts believe Nissan will head back to its original Fairlady heritage with the design for the 400Z, rather than updating the current 370Z design.

Given the lack of new ideas between the 350Z and the 370Z, we think that this would be a welcomed change.

However, at the current moment in time, very few facts are known about the 400Z’s design.

Could the Datsun 240Z inspire their intended plans, given the retro badge trademark? We sure hope so!

drift pan futuristic concept render nissan 400z

One thing that is for sure is that the interior won’t be based around the 240Z (thankfully). We expect the brand-new Z-car to feature all of the latest gadgets from Nissan/Inifiniti’s current line-up, which are even somewhat lacking in the modern-day 370Z.

One of the original speculations that started the 400Z rumors initially was a modified 370Z from Nissan, which was snapped at the Nürburgring, as it went head-to-head against the 2020 Toyota GR Supra.

370z test car chassis drivetrain 400z

Although there were very few design changes, it was clear that one of the main focuses for the engineers was cooling, with the front bumper altered to provide extra air intakes. Could this be to keep the temperatures down for the twin-turbo hiding under the hood?

Whatever Nissan happened to be working on at the time, they certainly didn’t give too much away.


Nissan 400Z engine

With Nissan’s current financial woes, the chances of a brand-new engine emerging anytime soon are looking increasingly unlikely. But, fear not, as there’s already a decent option in their current line-up – the VR30DDTT.

With the modern-day Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 pushing out 400hp at 6,400rpm with 350lbs/ft torque at 1,600rpm, the VR30DDTT seems like an ideal choice. Also, ‘400’ appears to be the magic number for their plans.

Z1 Motorsports has already tried and tested the VR30DDTT in their Time Attack 370Z, after previously using a twin-turbo VQ37VHR:

Right now, 400hp is looking far more likely for the new Z-car than a brand-new 4.0L engine, which would match Nissan’s previous name-based displacements.

Despite the Q60 Red Sport weighing in at 3,882lbs, it still manages to achieve a 4.5 second 0-60, with a 13-second quarter mile. If they shave quite a bit of weight away with the 400Z, it certainly has the potential to be a Supra killer on paper.

In contrast, the 2020 Supra weighs in at 3,397lbs but has just 335hp at 5,000rpm, and 365lb/ft torque at 1,600rpm.

The VR30DDTT is an all-aluminium engine that is part of the GT-R’s VR engine family.

With the VR30DDTT 400Z rumors gaining more traction than ever, Toyota has already unveiled plans to launch a 2021 Supra with 382hp and 368lb/ft torque.

Will Nissan take note of this and squeeze some more valuable power before they launch the 400Z?

Tuning houses have already been battling it out for the fastest ¼ mile times with the VR30DDTT, with this video showing the current quarter-mile record, hitting a hugely impressive 9.96 seconds!

Now THAT is a Supra killer!


Nissan 400Z chassis, transmission & drivetrain

Since we’ve established that the most likely powerplant for the 400Z is the VR30DDTT, you may be aware that the Q60 Red Sport only ever featured this engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

We can almost hear your disappointed sighs from here.

In all honesty, we wouldn’t be entirely keen on that either, especially from a drifting perspective.

However, it is looking likely that Nissan is also considering introducing a stick-shift gearbox just to keep us, the purists (and drifters) happy.

rear 2020-2021 nissan 400z

When it comes to the drivetrain of the 400Z, let’s not forget that the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport that it’s likely to be based on came with a choice of either AWD or RWD drivetrains.

We’ve heard of the 370Z being referred to as a ‘baby GT-R’ in the past, and it would certainly make sense in the somewhat likely scenario that they make both RWD and AWD 400Z variants!

You would be forgiven for thinking that the 400Z is essentially shaping up to be a glorified ‘sports-edition’ Q60, but in our minds, that’s not an entirely bad thing.

The Q60 has proven itself to be a solid foundation. If they can shed a significant amount of weight while making it superior in the handling department along with some power tweaks, the premise could have a lot of potential.

render rumor side shot nissan 400z

If Nismo gets up to their usual antics further down the line with implementing their various tweaks and improvements, we think that the potential possibilities for the 400Z could be quite impressive.

We’re certainly not saying that the FM platform from the Q60 has been set in stone for the 400Z. However, given the current state of affairs at Nissan, we’re not expecting them to have the budget to completely re-design a brand new chassis and drivetrain from the ground up.

Since the sports car market is relatively small compared to others, the chances are that they’ll play it safe, while ticking the right boxes to upset any European-based wannabe JDM rivals. Toyota, we’re looking at you.


Nissan 400Z price

Currently, the base-spec Nissan 370Z is available for $30,090 on the US market, with the Nismo variation a little over $45,000.

In comparison, the base model Toyota GR Supra starts at over $50,000, with the top-spec variant not leaving you with much change from $60,000.

For that reason, Nissan certainly has the upper-hand when it comes to price, and we can only imagine that they’ll intend to undercut the Supra once again upon launch of the 400Z.


Nissan 400Z Nismo Edition

Since both the 370Z and GT-R have received Nismo variants, there’s a high likelihood that the 400Z will also receive the same treatment shortly after launch.

We would expect to see improved, race-orientated suspension, and the typical aggressive styling and aero upgrades that we’ve come to expect from Nissan’s tuning department.

Although the 370Z received a rather disappointing 16hp upgrade with the Nismo model, the potential of twin-turbochargers means that they’ll likely free up far more power, with many rumors stating that around 475hp would be a realistic possibility.

side render nissan 400z

Various other upgrades, including improved brakes, cooling, exhaust, and handling upgrades, are also likely to be on the cards.

If Nissan can extract around 475hp, it would undoubtedly make for a more tempting proposition with the Nismo variant after their disappointing approach to power upgrades with the 370Z.

Let’s not forget that when the GT-R was initially released, it had 471hp. Maybe the 400Z has the potential to be the GT-R’s younger, lighter sibling, rather than ‘baby GT-R’ this time around!


Is Nissan working with Mercedes for the 400Z?

There have been many rumors online that Nissan and Mercedes were teaming up this time around to cut costs by using the existing Mercedes platform.

Thankfully, these rumors appear to have had no real foundation, and most likely came from disgruntled Toyota fans.

There were also rumors of them using an electric Mercedes engine, which thankfully seem to be equally untrue.

From what we can see, there’s no indication or evidence anywhere that Nissan intends to venture away from their proven in-house methods for the 400Z.


Conclusion

The launch of the Nissan 400Z is the perfect opportunity to pay homage to its 50-year Z-car heritage by releasing something awe-inspiring into an unsuspecting market.

There’s no doubt that with the GT86 and the Supra, Toyota certainly has control over the current-day sports car market, and the 370Z feels somewhat outdated and uninspiring in comparison.

Although the Supra is undoubtedly an impressive car, Toyota certainly took a hit with JDM enthusiasts by essentially basing the car on the European BMW.

This won’t be a deciding factor for many potential buyers, it certainly leaves a sour taste in our mouths that they replaced the legacy that the MKIV left behind with a glorified BMW Z4.

There’s also the price tag of the Supra, and since you’ll need to lay down $60,000 of your hard-earned cash, it allows for some real potential for the 400Z to undercut it in the market.

With the increasing probability that we’ll see the Infiniti twin-turbo V6 VR30DDTT under the hood, this engine has already been tried-and-tested in the tuning department, and with quarter-mile times already reaching under 10 seconds, there’s plenty of untapped power potential waiting to be unleashed.

Alpha Performance has managed to achieve 800hp from the VR30DDTT, and they’re now pushing towards their next major milestone at an incredibly impressive 1,000hp.

render front side nissan 400z

Although this would take some significant upgrades and development, it’s great to see that these modern-day engines are still capable of providing so much more power than they leave the factory with.

Could we eventually see the VR30DDTT become a modern rival to the likes of the much-loved RB26DETT?

Although the 400Z still seems like it’s a long way off, Nissan has provided numerous hints that it’s almost definitely in the works and that 2021 was a likely year for the unveiling.

However, 2020 has provided one of the wildest starts to any year in the history books, and the past few years certainly haven’t been too simple for Nissan.

With the current Coronavirus pandemic, the automotive industry has unquestionably taken a severe blow, and this is likely to have a detrimental effect on Nissan’s plans.

We hope that most of the research and development was initially carried out before the start of the pandemic and that we can expect a lightweight, incredible-handling 400Z with at least 400hp under the hood in the near future.

We’re not expecting to see a brand new, revolutionary platform built from the ground up, but if Nissan wants to truly impress with the 400Z, then handling improvements over the Q60 needs to be their top priority.

Whether Nissan will provide both RWD and AWD variants is yet to be seen, but with the current power potential of the VR30DDTT, AWD and 1000+hp 400Z’s will be an exciting proposition for the drag racing community.

Likewise, I don’t think anyone will be complaining about similar figures from an RWD drift-based platform, either!

We’re living in concerningly uncertain times right now, but we sincerely hope that Nissan manages to weather the storm to provide a deserving tribute to the 50-year-old 240Z.


Nissan 370Z tuning guides

If you’re lucky enough to own a 370Z, but disappointed to hear that there’s no definite plans for the 400Z just yet, why not unleash the full potential of your 370Z? We’ve written a wide range of guides to help you choose the ultimate products to build the perfect 370Z.


Photography & render credits

We thank the following entities for the use of their photography and renders in this article:


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author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

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