Future of the iconic Z car could be glum.
For the US market, Japanese brand Nissan has killed off the Roadster variant of its 370Z sports car, an update that was made evident when the brand updated its pricing for the 370Z Coupé, which will soldier on there. The 370Z is a very important car for Nissan, with a lineage that stretches back five decades.
The 370Z Roadster specifically never really won many fans, partly due to its watered-down driving character. It was clarified by Nissan product communications executive Kyle Torrens, who told Motor Authority that Nissan “will not offer the Roadster variant for the current-generation Z beginning with model-year 2020.”
Nissan has not offered up any justification for their decision, but it seems obvious to us that the shrinking market for open-top sports cars of this nature meant that the 370Z Roadster was simply gobbled up on the way down. It didn’t help that in the US, the Roadster commanded a US$10,000 premium, a tough justification given that it’s not the sharpest drive in the world. That’s also likely why they sold less than 3,500 of them last year.
The dropping of the 370Z Roadster is a stark indication that the market for neither-here-nor-there sports cars is getting much tougher. Buyers are still enamoured by sharp drivers’ cars like the Toyota 86, Mazda MX-5 and BMW Z4, but will not tolerate anything less than a stellar experience behind the wheel of something that calls itself a sports car. This is a double-edged sword: It means that the current crop of successful cars are the very best out there, but it also means that manufacturers will hesitate in renewing their sports cars at all.
To that end though, a recent interview by Nissan design supremo Alfonso Albaisa with Wheels suggested that Nissan will replace the 370Z with a new generation, though it isn’t clear how far along R&D on the model is or when we can expect to see it. It’s also entirely possible that, regardless of how far along it is, Nissan might drop it entirely and focus on its far more profitable range of SUVs and passenger cars. It’d be a sad day for Nissan Z-car fans, but to the rest of us, it’ll just be the demise of a slowly-declining model anyway.
Are we sad? Meh. Mood changes with the wind on this.