A smaller sports car from Nissan?

2011 nissan 370z roadster review fpThe key to a successful sports car, Lotus founder Colin Chapman famously said, is to “simplify, and add lightness.” Chapman’s advice was more of an option when Lotus cars debuted in the 1950s; there was no such thing as CAFE. It is also more important than ever. In addition to stricter environmental regulations, modern cars are weighed down by a lot of safety equipment, “infotainment” systems, and sound dampening. That’s why Nissan is thinking about downsizing its 370Z sports car, or building a second, smaller model.

Nissan’s head designer, Shiro Nakamura, told the Australian magazine Drive that the 370Z’s successor could have a smaller engine. “With 370Z, we still don’t know next generation will have a larger or smaller engine,” Nakamura said; he would prefer that the car be smaller and lighter. If Nissan does this, it will be the first time in the Z’s history that the engine will not increase in size between generations.

Would a 250Z tarnish the line’s reputation? The original Datsun 240Z had a four-cylinder engine, and was meant to render tiny British MGs and Triumphs obsolete. A downsized Z could, in a way, bring the car back to its roots. Since the first model, the Z has grown in size and power. The current 370Z packs a 3.7-liter V6, with 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque in basic trim. However, it is actually smaller than the 350Z it replaced. Perhaps there is a happy medium. It all comes down to the engine.

Downsizing engines is very popular right now for reasons of fuel economy; everyone from Fiat to Mercedes is doing it. The trick is getting the same performance from that smaller engine. That’s not impossible, and sometimes a car’s appeal can be improved in the process. V6 Ford Mustangs used to be jokes, until Ford put a turbocharged EcoBoost engine in 2011 models; the Blue Oval is even considering a four-cylinder EcoBoost in the 2015 ‘Stang. Chevy was able to improve the handling balance of the Camaro by dropping the direct-injected V6 from the Cadillac CTS in its engine bay.Nissan 240SX front three quarter

Power is especially important to the Nissan Z; it separates it from slow-but-fun cars like the Mazda Miata, and justifies a price premium. That is where a second Nissan sports car could help.

Nakamura said he liked the idea of reviving the Nissan Silvia, a popular compact sports car sold in the United States as the 200SX and 240SX throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. A new 240SX could emphasize handling over raw power, meaning the car could be made lighter and with a much smaller engine. It could compete effectively against the Miata, Subaru BRZ, and Scion FR-S without watering down the Z name. So far, Nissan has no plans to revive the Silvia/240SX.

Car enthusiasts don’t like change, so Nissan needs to be careful about whatever alterations it makes to the Z. Nonetheless, a smaller, more efficient Z is a smart idea, if it’s done right. Weight is the enemy of performance, and as long as Nissan doesn’t sacrifice too much performance to keep weight down, it might have a winner.

Cars

Study suggests autonomous cars could become red-light districts on wheels

Fully autonomous cars can change the way we commute, but they can also have a far-reaching impact on the tourism industry. Two researchers published a study that outlines how self-driving technology could create a new dimension in tourism.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Cars

Meet the born-again Ford Bronco that will soothe your ’90s nostalgia

Ford has confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in a few short years. While it's still very much a work in progress, this is what we expect from the Blue Oval's born-again off-roader.
Cars

Camaro vs. Mustang: Differences and similarities between two premier pony cars

The Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang are two of America's favorite sports cars. In this comparison piece, we highlight the main differences between the two machines when it comes to their design and performance, among other factors.
Cars

VW will use Siri as the designated driver for its connected car party

Volkswagen of America added Apple's Siri to help drivers control and interact with their cars. Owners can customize voice commands to tell Siri to change access settings such as interior climate, vehicle lock status, and fuel checks.
Cars

Waymo will launch its commercial autonomous ridesharing service in December

Waymo will launch a commercial ridesharing service using self-driving cars in December, according to a new report. As previously discussed by Waymo, the service will operate in specific areas around Phoenix, Arizona.
Cars

Quick! Someone petition Ferrari to make this luscious tribute to the F40

Ferrari looks toward the future as it designs hypercars like the LaFerrari. Designer Samir Sadikhov turned his eye toward the past to create a modern interpretation of the 1987 F40 without venturing into full retro territory.
Cars

BMW’s 2020 M340i will show off mix of tech and luxury at the Los Angeles show

The 2020 3 Series represents the seventh generation of BMW's bread-and-butter luxury sedan. Where previous generations emphasized the driving experience, the 2020 3 Series focuses more on tech than ever before.
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Cars

Lime’s first carsharing service motors into Seattle this week

Lime may be better known for its app-based bike and scooter rental services, but in Seattle, Washington this week it's launching its very first carsharing service, similar to Car2go and Zipcar.
Cars

Land Rover shows its artsy side by previewing the 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Land Rover made life-sized wire sculptures to preview the 2020 Range Rover Evoque. The all-new SUV will make its debut during a private event held in London on November 22, and deliveries will begin in 2019.
Deals

These headlights have 4 color settings to help save lives under all conditions

Boslla headlights are an easy-to-install solution to achieve all-weather lighting for your vehicle. After a quick ten-minute install, these lights have up to four settings to get you through anything.
Cars

Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

ZF recently became the first entity in Germany to receive approval to use drones to deliver spare parts, and the company now uses them to deliver parts from its central warehouses to its workshops.