Automakers can be tricky sometimes. Quite often you'll find Easter eggs lurking about, hidden in the shadows of photos or videos. And sometimes, automakers will toss something out there in such an obvious manner as to make people wonder if that actually just happened.
That's where we're at right now after watching Nissan's livestream reveal for the new Pathfinder and Frontier. With attention focused on the SUV and pickup truck, did Nissan pull a fast one on us? Yes, we've contacted Nissan asking about this, which we'll discuss more in a bit.
At one point during the Pathfinder/Frontier livestream, the video transitioned to Nissan's design studio in Japan for a deeper look at the new models but our enthusiast's eye noticed a gray Nissan Z car in the background. It's not a 370Z, and to the best of our knowledge, there's only one Nissan Z Proto concept in existence. It's an eyeball-searing shade of yellow and it's also in the design studio, along with several other Nissan models. So what is the gray Z behind it?
At a glance, it looks pretty much identical to the Z Proto but that's where things get tricky. Nissan said the production version of its next Z car (widely rumored to be named 400Z) would be extremely similar to the concept. In this instance, the camera stays just far enough back to clearly show the car, but not reveal intricate details. So we cropped the closest screenshot we could get and pumped up the levels some.
Sadly, it's still not a crystal clear look at this sports car, but it's enough to suggest there might be some minor differences here. For starters, this car sits higher than the Z Proto, and the headlights look ever-so-slightly closer to the nose. They could also be a tad more angular, and looking at the rocker panels on the sides, are we seeing a slightly different design for the lower trim? The wheels seem identical to the Z Proto design-wise but look larger. The small side window at the back also has no tint to it.
Ultimately, the distance combined with glare and shadows in the studio makes it impossible to definitively say whether this is indeed a sneak peek at the next production Z. However, we can say that Nissan was very deliberate in showing this car on camera. Interestingly, Nissan's initial response to our question was simply to confirm that it's a gray car, so there are apparently some questions on the automaker side, too.
Add it all up, and we believe this is a static mock-up. The ride height, the wheels, the location, the confusion in Nissan's communications chain, it all screams mock-up. Still, is it a mock-up of the concept, or the production car? Either way, Nissan wanted us to see it, so here it is.
If we get more information on this mystery machine, we'll jump in with a fresh update.