Now that the Z Proto is out in the air, speculation is rife for what Nissan's hot-shop has in store for the next Z-car
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The Nissan Z Proto concept, unveiled this week in Japan, provides a surprisingly production-ready look at what Nissan has in store for the next chapter in the Z story.

While the visuals are all but locked in, details on the engine and performance potential were kept more closely guarded. So far Nissan has confirmed that a twin-turbo V6 and six-speed manual will be housed within a rear-wheel-drive chassis, but not much more.

That alone is enough to investigate a few potential options for a hotter Nismo version – with CarAdvice's resident render-master, Theophilus Chin, imagining what Nissan's in-house tuning division, Nismo, might have in store.

The current 370Z Nismo hardly tears up the rule-book when it comes to visual modifications alongside the regular 370Z. By extension, any new Z Nismo would likely follow a similar pattern, with an enhanced front bumper, improved airflow paths, wheel arch extensions over a wider track, a proud rear wing, and ground-effects body add-ons like the sills and deeper diffuser providing a hint of what's in store.

Naturally, there's only one appropriate finish for any Nismo product – pearl white – providing the ideal backdrop to the black body addenda and red pinstripe details, nestled over lightweight wheels and high performance rubber.

As for the action under the bonnet, that's where things get really interesting. Nissan hasn't said what outputs the regular Z might produce. So far, they've even stopped short of officially naming the car.

All previous generations, 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z and 370Z, pointed to their respective engine capacity, from 2.4-litres initially to 3.7-litres today.

The new Z may be the first to break with tradition, with suggestions the new car could be called the 400Z, derived from the 400HP (or 298kw) power output. If that is the case, all signs point to the Infiniti Q60's 3.0-litre VR30 engine providing motivation, along with 475Nm of torque in standard guise.

As is stands, that's already an impressive leap up from the 245kW and 363Nm of the current 370Z, or 253kW and 371Nm of the Nismo version.

Don't expect the 400Z Nismo to be quite as conservative with its power upgrades however. The relative ease of tuning afforded by a turbocharged engine means the next Nismo could easily become a 335kW 450Z, without too much effort.

A little turbo fettling, and some accompanying changes to peak boost and fuel delivery should be enough for the Nismo model to wring out an easy 30-40 extra kilowatts and an academic 50-60Nm over the standard state of tune.

Looking back to the donor Q60, Nissan itself has played with some high-output hypotheticals in the past, with a pair of Q60 Black S concepts in 2017 and again in 2018, the highest output of which maxxed out at a whopping 420kW.

There is a catch, however. The Black S cars utilised an F1-style kinetic energy recovery, or KERS, hybrid system. Nismo's engineering head, Hiroshi Tamura, speaking at the reveal of the Z Proto, told Australian media that Z customers aren't interested in hybrid tech right now, and that Nissan intends to deliver what customers desire.

Also feasible as a fit under the Z's bonnet, but incredibly unlikely from a production perspective, is a version of the GT-R's 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6.

While outputs kicked off in 2010 at 357kW and scaled up to 448kW in the GT-R Nismo (or as high as 530kW in the GT-R R50), the high-cost, hand assembled nature of the VR38DETT engine strikes it off the list.

Rumours persist of a 475-480HP version of the next Z to wear the hallowed Nismo nameplate though. That's around 354-358kW, and right where the GT-R engine kicks off. No doubt lessons learn from the GT-R development could be applied to the smaller 3.0-litre engine, but despite both carrying the VR engine prefix, there's little in the way of shared components between the two.

Still, from 3.0 litres the Nissan V6 can go a long way. From 2.9 litres, Audi extracts 331kW and 600Nm; BMW has got as much as 368kW and 600Nm from the M4 GTS and its 3.0-litre inline six; while Alfa Romeo draws 375kW and 600Nm from the Giulia Quadrifoglio's 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6.

With benchmarks like those, Nismo has plenty of scope for engine development. Not to mention the fine-tuning of brakes, steering and suspension to cope.

Hit the comments and let us know what you think Nissan has in store for its newest Z Nismo.