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Hiroshi Tamura, the Chief Product Specialist (CPS) for the Z Proto was asked what he's looking for in the new Z car, his response was “Many cars possess good dynamic performance, but the Z makes it easy to enjoy this performance because it creates an emotional relationship with the driver. Like a perfectly suited dance partner, the Z responds to the driver’s impulses as an unspoken connection that is deeply felt.
Also, Z-ness is about enjoying and celebrating life in your own way, whether you’re the type that prefers driving solo on a challenging road or being part of a global community of Z enthusiasts, or “Zenthusiasts”.

It was from a Q&A with Nissan Australia which you can find below.

The Essence of Z-ness: Hiroshi Tamura, Chief Product Specialist of the Z Proto


Since 1969, the venerable Fairlady Z has enthralled sports cars enthusiasts the world over. While there have been many iterations of the model through the years, it has constantly maintained its identity as the archetypal Japanese sports car. So, what is the secret to its success? What has made this model so special over the years?

To find out, we looked within, asking Nissan employees what they thought were the qualities that defined the Z, what “Z-ness” meant to them.

Kicking off the series of exploration is Hiroshi Tamura, the Chief Product Specialist (CPS) of the Z Proto and next Z. After graduating from university, he joined Nissan in April 1984, where he spent his early years as an engineer, along with stints at Autech Japan and Nissan Prince Kanagawa sales branches. In February 2006, he received his first CPS assignment—with the Product Planning Department—and in April 2012, he became the CPS of the GT-R and the 370Z, taking on the challenge to not only meet, but exceed fan expectations with both legendary models.

Q: Thank you for sharing a moment with us in this very busy time for you. We would like to begin with the basic question of “What is Z-ness?”

Tamura: “Z-ness” to me is the spirit of Nissan. It’s how the car connects to the driver—to the driver’s mind, body and soul—providing the ultimate driving pleasure. It’s where the driver meets machine, resulting in an authentic “oneness” or “bond” between the driver and car. The Z expresses a striking attitude that first attracts you and then entices you to want a lasting relationship. This is truly unique to Z.



Q: When you say “mind, body and soul,” can you expand on how the Z uniquely makes such a connection?

Tamura: Many cars possess good dynamic performance, but the Z makes it easy to enjoy this performance because it creates an emotional relationship with the driver. Like a perfectly suited dance partner, the Z responds to the driver’s impulses as an unspoken connection that is deeply felt.

Also, Z-ness is about enjoying and celebrating life in your own way, whether you’re the type that prefers driving solo on a challenging road or being part of a global community of Z enthusiasts, or “Zenthusiasts”.



Q: What is the Z’s role in the Nissan lineup?

Tamura: As mentioned, Z is the spirit of Nissan, and is especially important now as Nissan is going through its Nissan NEXT transformation. The Z injects excitement into every product in the lineup, which in turn, excites all of us who are associated with the company, including the customers, employees and fans. It’s a car that people know and remember. The Z has a fundamental balance of power and design that’s instantly recognizable as a Nissan, and it’s within reach of many potential buyers, which is very important. It’s a dream car that can be enjoyed by many.

The Z has driven our passion to innovate and challenge the norms through the generations. “Passion, innovation, challenge:” These three words define the Z and remain vital to the company’s DNA, making the Z a strong influence in the culture and personality of Nissan.



Q: Why do you think the Z has had such a strong fan base, going strong for 50-plus years?

Tamura: The Z is timeless, thanks to its style and accessibility. Millions of people share a special connection with the car. Ask your friends or family about the Z, and you get smiles and very positive answers. That is what keeps the Z spirit alive, and it is only getting stronger.



Q: Is that your approach in engineering the new Z?

Tamura: My job, as the Chief Product Specialist, is to be the voice of the customer. Introducing a new Z is a challenging job for the whole team because so many people love the Z for different reasons, such as its appearance, performance, and even positive memories they may have had with the past generations of Z. We must consider the customer’s wants and their happiness first. But it helps that I have loved Z cars since the very beginning, and I have owned them over the years. I know what the Z means to me, so I know what it means to the customer. My intent for the Z has always been to provide a balance between style, power and technology, all of which can be easily accessed by the customer. The Z must move right, look right and be something that produces a smile on the customer’s face.



Q: What is your history with the Z? Are there any standout memories or experiences?

Tamura: I’ve been a Nissan petrol-head since I was a kid. I was a fan of two main cars in my youth—the GT-R and the Z—and it was then (that) I wanted to be a part of the future of Nissan and its sports cars. I remember the GT-R’s power and racing performance, and I remember the beautiful look of the Fairlady Z; these cars changed my life. I have so many happy memories owning and driving the Z and GT-R, and to think that I’m now responsible in creating them leaves me speechless. I will have to write a book about it some day!



Q: You mentioned owning a Z. Which model?

Tamura: The first was the 240ZG “G-nose,” which I bought secondhand and, of course, instantly began tuning in pursuit of its “ultimate performance,” something I still do today. I loved the 240ZG’s appearance, which looked to me like a Shinkansen (bullet train). It had a very sleek aerodynamic body with a shape that sliced the air. It surprised me that a Japanese car company could create such a design, something with a low and wide stance, a long nose, a short rear deck and aggressive bolted over-fenders.

The other Z in my garage was a turbocharged Z31 that I also tuned. The tuning scene was big then and many aftermarket parts were affordable. I learned how to tune my cars through lots of trial and error, learning to pay attention to the details, such as the cooling system, the brake system, and much more. Some lessons I learned the hard way, but in the end, it turned out to be a very nice car.



Q: What are you looking forward to most about the next Z?

Tamura: I want people to drive the next Z and feel like they have discovered a new dance partner. I want customers to smile and enjoy the car, while continuing to spread the Z dream. The next Z will be a car that will keep Nissan’s sports-car spirit alive, and I hope it will help create new, happy memories for the Nissan family, car lovers, and Zenthusiasts everywhere!
934
 

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I love that they want the Z and the GT-R to complement each other. To me it shows how serious they are with the Z's performance.
 

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What a awesome guy Tamura is. I had the pleasure of meeting him back in 2016! so interesting to talk with as he has a very specific philosophy that really comes through when you listen to him. Enthusiast first and foremost is the big takeaway When the Proto was unveiled he talked about he engineered the new Z to be like a dance partner. That analogy may not have reached everyone the right way but after sitting in on a lecture he gave, a Q&A session then walking around Nissans display asking him about the classic Nissan GTRs on display.... that comment was totally a Tamura(ism) and I get exactly what he meant. The give and take between the driver inputs and that classic RWD sports car dance ect ect

the Z is in good hands with him.

IMG_20160323_172010130.jpg

IMG_20210215_233542988.jpg
 

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What a awesome guy Tamura is. I had the pleasure of meeting him back in 2016! so interesting to talk with as he has a very specific philosophy that really comes through when you listen to him. Enthusiast first and foremost is the big takeaway When the Proto was unveiled he talked about he engineered the new Z to be like a dance partner. That analogy may not have reached everyone the right way but after sitting in on a lecture he gave, a Q&A session then walking around Nissans display asking him about the classic Nissan GTRs on display.... that comment was totally a Tamura(ism) and I get exactly what he meant. The give and take between the driver inputs and that classic RWD sports car dance ect ect

the Z is in good hands with him.

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View attachment 1049
That's really cool that you got to meet him in person. When he talked about the GT-R was there anything he said that you didn't expect him to? Also is that your car he signed??
 

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That's really cool that you got to meet him in person. When he talked about the GT-R was there anything he said that you didn't expect him to? Also is that your car he signed??

yeah I got to talk to him for like an hour. the best part is nissan had a display at the auto show that had all these heritage GTRs including the actual GTR NISMO that set the Nurburging time camoflauge and all. so i got to walk around with him and he would talk about each car for a bit. really cool experience. he gave this little seminar to a handful of invited guests there and I saved all this handwritten illustrations.

thats my car he signed yes. At SEMA later that year nissan had him sign one of my engine covers #1 since it was the first GTR NISMO produced for the US.

 

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Nissan released a second edition of "The Essence of Z-Ness", this time it's with Shinichiro Irie, Program Designer Director of Z Proto.


In our ongoing series, The Essence of Z-ness, we first heard from Chief Product Specialist Hiroshi Tamura on what Z-ness means to him and the legacy of Z around the world. In this second installment, we talk with Shinichiro Irie, the Program Design Director of the Z Proto, to ask him what he thought were the qualities that defined the Z Proto, what to look forward to with the next Z and to give insight into what exactly went into the thought process of the Z styling, from pen and paper to reality.

Irie joined Nissan’s Design Department in 1993 after graduating from the Tokyo University of Art. In 1997 he became a Senior Designer and in 2001 joined Nissan’s Creative Box, a satellite studio located in Harajuku, the center of youth fashion in Tokyo. There, he concentrated on design development of trendsetting concept cars. In 2013, he became a Design Director of Nissan and Infiniti brands at Nissan Design America and, in 2016, was named Program Design Director at the company’s Global Design Center in Japan.


Q: Thank you for sharing a moment with us. We would like to begin with the basic question: “What is Z-ness?”

Irie:
I think that the styling of the Z is a symbol for Nissan that embodies the company’s philosophy. We aimed to make it something that appeals to all, something for people to fall in love with at first glance. Z-ness is also something that, as soon as you get in, provides driving pleasure with its excellent handling and power. And of course, the Z is a car that takes tradition and combines it with modern technology; blending both in a balanced way that feels fresh but still has Z DNA at its core. With every Z model, Nissan has done this. That, to me, is the essence of Z-ness.

Q: In terms of design, what gives the Z Proto its Z-ness?

Irie:
The Z has a rich history and possesses many iconic elements. Take the headlamps for example. On the original 240Z (S30), when the headlamps illuminate through the outer lens, they created a unique exterior reflection. We employed this shape and infused it with modern technology to create the new Z’s headlamp signature that’s both modern and familiar.

The styling of the rear combination lamps is another example. Although many have likened it to the Z32’s, in fact the original Fairlady Z and other past Zs had a similar design. Like the headlamps, we designed the rear lights with our heritage in mind but used a new approach that resulted in this powerful, iconic motif.

Another unique element is the silver accent that enhances the car’s roofline. In the studio, we refer to this as the katana, as it shares a similar shape to the traditional Japanese sword. The Z Proto features a two-tone paint scheme with a black roof, and the accent draws the eye, creating a very “Z-esque” silhouette that slopes down from front to rear. The accent also won’t lose its effect in monotone or lighter paint schemes.

Q: What is the Z’s role in the Nissan lineup?

Irie:
Of course, the Z is an icon to car enthusiasts around the world, but I think that one of its main roles has been to awaken the passion in all of us at Nissan. The passion from within makes the Z a one-of-a-kind entity at Nissan, providing inspiration for all of us.

Also, in this era where we’re creating vehicles for the electrification era—notably our cutting-edge EV, the Ariya—I feel it’s important to have vehicles positioned across our lineup. That’s why I think it’s essential that the Z has its own unique and cherished specifications, including a manual transmission, something our customers expect and appreciate. Therefore, in our Nissan NEXT transformation plan, the “A” symbolizes the Ariya, and the Z appropriately represents “Z.”

Q: The character line of the Z seems to play a major role in the car’s styling. What does it do?

Irie:
To position this character line was truly like threading a needle. We’re talking pinpointing it in the space of less than 1 mm. Because the new Z has a FR layout (front engine/rear drive), the character line conveys the transference of power from the engine to the road, moving the design’s energy from the front of the body to the rear fenders, wheels and tires. If you look closely, the line vanishes around the door handle. The reason for this is, like a drawn bow, the line pauses to collect its power before dispersing it to the rear of the car. To me, this single character line expresses the soul of Z.

Q: Why do you think the Z has had such a strong fan base, going strong for 50-plus years?

Irie:
I feel it’s because the Z, which some in Nissan liken to a dance partner, has always been a sports car that excites the senses while still being familiar and within the reach of many people. This has allowed the Z, regardless of model or generation, to be consistently loved. I received a message on my Instagram account the other day from a father and son who own two different generations of Zs. When they said that they were looking forward to the next Z, I thought, “We’re creating a car that will start another chapter in the Z family, both vehicle generations and for Z enthusiasts.”

Q: What is your history with the Z? What have been your standout memories and experiences?

Irie:
To be honest, growing up in the supercar era, I didn’t have much interest in Japanese cars. But the reason that I decided to join Nissan as a designer was largely due to the Z32 (300ZX). While I was a still a student, I spotted one driving around town. I still remember the utter amazement that I felt when I first laid on eyes on it. This was something that I had not experienced since first seeing a supercar. And when I discovered that the car was manufactured by a domestic company, I was amazed again! The Z32 featured a low body, lower than those of other sports cars of its day, and I never imagined that a Japanese company could create something with such iconic styling. Actually, I’ve been sketching sports cars for fun since I was a child. Even before I laid eyes on the Z32, I sketched cars that looked like the original Fairlady Z (240Z). I loved drawing cars with very unique appearances like the Z. At school, my teacher often told me off for it in class. I guess you could say I was just preparing for my future!

Q: What are you looking forward to most about the next Z?

Irie:
I’m looking forward to seeing it mixing in the world with other wonderfully designed cars. For instance, at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week there are many notable cars on display, but the cars driven around town by the attendees are quite impressive. Spending the whole day strolling through the parking areas is as entertaining for me as the event itself. But, when looking at these vehicles, I felt that I still hadn’t created a car that would look at home next to them. Well, with the new Z, I feel that I have finally done it.

Q: How would you like the Z to be ultimately received?

Irie:
The design theme of the new Z is the fusion of traditional and modern technologies. My wish is that the Z satisfies all enthusiasts, and they will continue to love the Z. Also, by inheriting the Nissan sport car spirit, I hope the new Z will be nurtured by everyone in the years to come.
 

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Nissan released a second edition of "The Essence of Z-Ness", this time it's with Shinichiro Irie, Program Designer Director of Z Proto.


In our ongoing series, The Essence of Z-ness, we first heard from Chief Product Specialist Hiroshi Tamura on what Z-ness means to him and the legacy of Z around the world. In this second installment, we talk with Shinichiro Irie, the Program Design Director of the Z Proto, to ask him what he thought were the qualities that defined the Z Proto, what to look forward to with the next Z and to give insight into what exactly went into the thought process of the Z styling, from pen and paper to reality.

Irie joined Nissan’s Design Department in 1993 after graduating from the Tokyo University of Art. In 1997 he became a Senior Designer and in 2001 joined Nissan’s Creative Box, a satellite studio located in Harajuku, the center of youth fashion in Tokyo. There, he concentrated on design development of trendsetting concept cars. In 2013, he became a Design Director of Nissan and Infiniti brands at Nissan Design America and, in 2016, was named Program Design Director at the company’s Global Design Center in Japan.


Q: Thank you for sharing a moment with us. We would like to begin with the basic question: “What is Z-ness?”

Irie:
I think that the styling of the Z is a symbol for Nissan that embodies the company’s philosophy. We aimed to make it something that appeals to all, something for people to fall in love with at first glance. Z-ness is also something that, as soon as you get in, provides driving pleasure with its excellent handling and power. And of course, the Z is a car that takes tradition and combines it with modern technology; blending both in a balanced way that feels fresh but still has Z DNA at its core. With every Z model, Nissan has done this. That, to me, is the essence of Z-ness.

Q: In terms of design, what gives the Z Proto its Z-ness?

Irie:
The Z has a rich history and possesses many iconic elements. Take the headlamps for example. On the original 240Z (S30), when the headlamps illuminate through the outer lens, they created a unique exterior reflection. We employed this shape and infused it with modern technology to create the new Z’s headlamp signature that’s both modern and familiar.

The styling of the rear combination lamps is another example. Although many have likened it to the Z32’s, in fact the original Fairlady Z and other past Zs had a similar design. Like the headlamps, we designed the rear lights with our heritage in mind but used a new approach that resulted in this powerful, iconic motif.

Another unique element is the silver accent that enhances the car’s roofline. In the studio, we refer to this as the katana, as it shares a similar shape to the traditional Japanese sword. The Z Proto features a two-tone paint scheme with a black roof, and the accent draws the eye, creating a very “Z-esque” silhouette that slopes down from front to rear. The accent also won’t lose its effect in monotone or lighter paint schemes.

Q: What is the Z’s role in the Nissan lineup?

Irie:
Of course, the Z is an icon to car enthusiasts around the world, but I think that one of its main roles has been to awaken the passion in all of us at Nissan. The passion from within makes the Z a one-of-a-kind entity at Nissan, providing inspiration for all of us.

Also, in this era where we’re creating vehicles for the electrification era—notably our cutting-edge EV, the Ariya—I feel it’s important to have vehicles positioned across our lineup. That’s why I think it’s essential that the Z has its own unique and cherished specifications, including a manual transmission, something our customers expect and appreciate. Therefore, in our Nissan NEXT transformation plan, the “A” symbolizes the Ariya, and the Z appropriately represents “Z.”

Q: The character line of the Z seems to play a major role in the car’s styling. What does it do?

Irie:
To position this character line was truly like threading a needle. We’re talking pinpointing it in the space of less than 1 mm. Because the new Z has a FR layout (front engine/rear drive), the character line conveys the transference of power from the engine to the road, moving the design’s energy from the front of the body to the rear fenders, wheels and tires. If you look closely, the line vanishes around the door handle. The reason for this is, like a drawn bow, the line pauses to collect its power before dispersing it to the rear of the car. To me, this single character line expresses the soul of Z.

Q: Why do you think the Z has had such a strong fan base, going strong for 50-plus years?

Irie:
I feel it’s because the Z, which some in Nissan liken to a dance partner, has always been a sports car that excites the senses while still being familiar and within the reach of many people. This has allowed the Z, regardless of model or generation, to be consistently loved. I received a message on my Instagram account the other day from a father and son who own two different generations of Zs. When they said that they were looking forward to the next Z, I thought, “We’re creating a car that will start another chapter in the Z family, both vehicle generations and for Z enthusiasts.”

Q: What is your history with the Z? What have been your standout memories and experiences?

Irie:
To be honest, growing up in the supercar era, I didn’t have much interest in Japanese cars. But the reason that I decided to join Nissan as a designer was largely due to the Z32 (300ZX). While I was a still a student, I spotted one driving around town. I still remember the utter amazement that I felt when I first laid on eyes on it. This was something that I had not experienced since first seeing a supercar. And when I discovered that the car was manufactured by a domestic company, I was amazed again! The Z32 featured a low body, lower than those of other sports cars of its day, and I never imagined that a Japanese company could create something with such iconic styling. Actually, I’ve been sketching sports cars for fun since I was a child. Even before I laid eyes on the Z32, I sketched cars that looked like the original Fairlady Z (240Z). I loved drawing cars with very unique appearances like the Z. At school, my teacher often told me off for it in class. I guess you could say I was just preparing for my future!

Q: What are you looking forward to most about the next Z?

Irie:
I’m looking forward to seeing it mixing in the world with other wonderfully designed cars. For instance, at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week there are many notable cars on display, but the cars driven around town by the attendees are quite impressive. Spending the whole day strolling through the parking areas is as entertaining for me as the event itself. But, when looking at these vehicles, I felt that I still hadn’t created a car that would look at home next to them. Well, with the new Z, I feel that I have finally done it.

Q: How would you like the Z to be ultimately received?

Irie:
The design theme of the new Z is the fusion of traditional and modern technologies. My wish is that the Z satisfies all enthusiasts, and they will continue to love the Z. Also, by inheriting the Nissan sport car spirit, I hope the new Z will be nurtured by everyone in the years to come.
First time hearing what the 400Z sounds like and it comes off as throatier than the 370Z.
 

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First time hearing what the 400Z sounds like and it comes off as throatier than the 370Z.
I wouldn't count your chickens. There is no assurance a prototype is going to sound like the production car. And there's also a reasonable chance the video's audio has been enhanced, or even completely synthesized.
 

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I wouldn't count your chickens. There is no assurance a prototype is going to sound like the production car. And there's also a reasonable chance the video's audio has been enhanced, or even completely synthesized.

Nissan invited me to the NY auto show for the reveal of the facelift 2017 GTR and the video package as it rolled on stage included a soundtrack of like some high revving V10 or something from Need for speed. It was ridiculous as it was the opposite of the GTR. So yeah it happens lol

I think the exhaust note in the video above seems accurate as it doesnt seem overly amazing it sounds like a turbo v6 you are expecting
 
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