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Nissan’s next-generation Z sports car could be getting back to its roots

The Nissan 370Z has been in production since 2009, and that means there are rumors swirling about what will replace the Japanese sports car. If we were to follow the car’s recent progression, more output and a 390Z moniker would be the plan, right?

Well, Nissan Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura has shared some information with Autoblog that suggest something more “back-to-basics” is in store. Reportedly, Nissan is looking to the original 240Z as inspiration for the next generation model, and with the IDx project officially axed, the next Z could be far more like the original than the present version, in both size and performance.

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The concept for the now-cancelled Nissan IDx project

Nakamura said the Z belongs as a rival to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Scion FR-S, and Subaru BRZ. Considering each of those cars clock in at the 200-horsepower mark and lower, and each weigh under 3,000 pounds, the present generation 370Z is certainly not a direct rival. For 2015, the 370Z makes as much as 350 hp in Nismo trim, and lugs around 3,400 pounds. That makes it more of a Porsche Cayman rival than a Miata competitor.

Related: Nissan Reveals the Compact IDx Concept

In Nakamura’s words, “Because the sports car market is becoming smaller globally, we would like to do something, I personally think, is more [in the] original concept of Z, which is … more practical and appealing to younger customers.” Something more practical and targeted at younger buyers sounds like an FR-S rival to me.

If the next generation Z is to move down market, expect it to ditch the heavier, more powerful 3.7-liter V6 in favor of the Juke’s 188hp 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. With that engine tuned to the 200 hp range and a lightweight body, the new Z might keep sports car sales alive within the Nissan portfolio.

Though the 370Z has been on the market with only subtle changes for six years, Nissan is only just beginning to develop a successor, so we may not see a replacement for a few more years.