For an automaker, one of the biggest challenges is to develop vehicles that can be successful in multiple markets.
The large pickups and SUVs that litter American roads would stick out like sore thumbs in Paris or London, yet the micro kei cars sprinkled throughout Japan might solicit some funny looks in Texas. Different strokes, as they say.
Nissan, more specifically its beloved Z cars, are currently in the middle of that very dichotomy. The Japanese brand believes European drivers aren’t as keen on big V6s as American buyers are. In much of the United States, though, the saying, “there’s no replacement for displacement” might as well be a gospel verse.
Speaking to Car Advice at Japan’s Nismo Festival, Nissan Corporate Vice President Roel de Vries expressed some justifiable frustration toward these widely differing global attitudes.
“Can you sell a V6 [370Z] in Europe? No,” he asked rhetorically. “Does that mean the next Z will have a V6 [for Europe?] No, of course we are not going to do that.”
“[But] there’s still an audience that wants a six-cylinder engine, so why would we give it up?” he pondered. “That’s all part of ongoing studies.”
If the Z car line is fated to continue, and we hope it is, that means future cars will likely equip several different powertrains, possibly including four-cylinder turbos, V6s, and even an entry-level, naturally aspirated four-banger.
If Nissan goes that route, the next iteration of the 370Z will likely have to shed some weight to remain competitive. The back-to-basics Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ have been significantly outselling the 370Z lately, and the lightweight, precise handling philosophies of the shared sports car may influence the Z car’s next generation.
“I think an engine is never a need or must, because what you need is to deliver on what the car stands for,” de Vries continued. “And if the 370Z stands for real performance and real driving I think it doesn’t need a V6 to do that.”