‘Z’ Won’t Disappear From Nissan’s Dictionary Just Yet: Report

2018 Nissan 370Z, Image: Nissan

As we told you on Sunday, Nissan’s chief planning officer, Philippe Klein, desperately wants to hold on to the sporty heritage of the Z name, but doesn’t know how it can fit into the brand’s future lineup. The horizon’s hazy for this athletic occupant of the Nissan stable.

Besides a refresh for the 2013 model year, the existing 370Z is an ancient thing, having first appeared on North American shores in early 2009. The elimination of the manual transmission in 2018 Roadster models doesn’t help its performance image, though segment rivals can take most of the blame for the model’s declining fortunes.

We’re now hearing more information on something Klein alluded to. There’s more Z to come, but it will apparently be more of the same, not some altogether new creation.

Speaking to Motor Authority, a Nissan source claims the existing Z will “be updated to meet future safety and regulatory standards as to not be regulatoried out of production.”

It’s a short-term fix to Nissan’s Z problem, for sure. Upgraded specs and a move away from styling we’ve enjoyed since before the recession could budge the sales needle in the opposite direction. As it stands, U.S. Z car sales are lower than at any point since the reintroduction of the model (in 350Z form) to Nissan’s lineup in 2002. Sales declined 22 percent in 2017.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Nissan bothers with a full redesign for a model that sold 4,614 units in the U.S. last year. Giving the model a stay of execution would, however, hand extra development time to the automaker as it works on a replacement. It certainly seems Nissan has doubts about doing something as drastic as applying the name to a dreaded crossover. Maybe a extra year or two could help it better gauge the market.

In his recent interview with Automotive News, Klein said, “For the long term, there are other considerations. If we do a complete new vehicle, what should it be to keep the passion alive? And we’re working very seriously on this — how we can keep the Z alive and refreshing and what would be the next generation?”

The Motor Authority source claims “there’s strong interested within the company for the Z to live on,” but there’s no successor confirmed at this point.

[Image: Nissan]