Nissan’s sports car future is at a crossroads, as fuel prices are skyrocketing, emissions laws are tightening, and sports cars are downsizing to stay relevant.
That leaves the Japanese automaker a position to reinvent its sports car once again. To what, though, we’re still not clear.
Nissan’s head of design, Shiro Nakamura, told the Sydney Morning Herald he’s currently looking into designing smaller models.
“I much prefer smaller sports cars,” he told the paper. “It is the time to look at that [smaller engines]. With the 370Z, we still don’t know next generation will have a larger or smaller engine.”
Since the “Z” sports car’s 1970 debut, it has always carried a six-cylinder engine—240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z, and 370Z—with the engine almost always larger and more powerful than the one it replaced. The number in its name has always been a reflection of the car’s engine displacement in liters; 2.4 liters, 2.6 liters, 2.8 liters, etc.
But now, Nissan’s looking at potentially downsizing its longstanding sports car’s engine for the first time. Or it might be time to bring back the Nissan 240SX, or Silvia as it was known internationally.
“Light, sport coupe is a nice concept, I like it,” says Nakamura in response to bringing back the entry-level sports coupe.
It makes sense to do so more than it has in a long time, as sports cars are making a resurgence. In 2008, Hyundai introduced its Genesis Coupe, a sporty car likened to the Nissan 240SX. And of course there’s the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, and a sportier-than-ever Ford Mustang.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back might not have been any of them. In a move toward nostalgia, Toyota collaborated with Subaru to produce its Scion FR-S coupe that recalls the vaunted AE86 Toyota Corolla GT-S of the mid-1980s. Subaru’s version is called the BRZ. The Nissan Silvia was one the the AE86′s natural rivals.
“Sports car is a core of Nissan,” says Nakamura. “We…really we have to sit down and work out what the future of sports cars should be for us.”
Nakamura didn’t dismiss the idea of a new 240SX to complement the next-generation Nissan Z and GT-R sports cars. But it should be noted that the last time Nissan had two relatively affordable sports cars during the 1990s, the economy imploded in Japan, Nissan pulled both out of the U.S., and the automaker almost went out of business.
Concluding his thoughts over a 240SX revival, Nakamura simply said: “If there is a market, we will do it.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald