I can’t help but wonder about the state of affordable V6 Sports cars. Not muscle cars with down-sized engines, not FWD coupe versions of sedans, not hypothetical engine swaps for tiny little cars like Toyota 86 or Miata.
I am talking OEM, as-sold sports cars, 2-seats or 2+(2 * .5), for those cars that have token rear seats that nobody actually considers really using, but can be handy to hold coats or bags...
There aren’t many, and if you don’t include Porsche, because Porsche is Porsche, and not intended to be mainstream or affordable, you are pretty much left with Nissan Z.
Lotus Evora is also much more expensive than the Nissan Z, because Lotus is such an absolutely tiny company, with such a small economy of scale... each car has to bear a lot more of Lotus’ operating costs as a company, and Evora is pretty much the only car Lotus can legally sell in the US. That is a lot of corporate burden to bear for one niche model.
But technically, as a car, is it really that much more inherently sophisticated than a Z in any aspect other than where the engine is mounted? Does it have some huge technical hurdle?
Mainstream V6 engine, check.
Ability to be transversely mounted, check... lots of Nissans and Infinitis, actually might even save some money by sharing...
Manual gearbox, do-able... along with modern automatics, automated clutch gearboxes, CVTs (wait...) that could be used with a performance PHEV propulsion system... Yep, Nissan/Jatco have that technology, too.
Aluminum, steel, and thermoplastic construction materials, rather than expensive stuff like Carbon Fiber Monocoque construction... Yep.
Evora may have a bit more aluminum in it’s construction than Nissan Z has had in the past, and it arguably does have more suspension and handling expertise built into the suspension... (although Yamaha did fettle with 350Z Nismo’s handling and suspension)
Generally, from an overall systems standpoint, is the original Evora or Evora S really much more complicated than a Nissan Z car, or even one of Nissan’s transverse VQ-powered cars, if Nissan were to put that transverse VQ engine behind the driver?
With Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi-automotive’s corporate size and economy of scale, and much more expansive parts bin and R&D budget, One would think that building a mid-engined car not too far off of the original Lotus Evora or Evora S as a benchmark, would be possible, at Nissan Z’s price point.
And if they actually hire a competent designer that can style a car timelessly, anywhere near this good looking:
like, say a production-sized tone-down of their Infiniti Emerge-E concept car.
And sell it for $35-45K as a Nissan... and maybe a higher-power (400-500hp/tq equivalent) variant with Infiniti luxury touches at $60-80K, (still roughly half of BMW i8 or Acura NSX’s cost) even with only 80% of the handling quality that the actual Lotus has... they’d REALLY have something to sell, something that no other car company can sell right now, an affordable mid-engined sports car.
For the icing on that cake, if they really wanted to do something interesting, they could use that new variable-compression turbo I4 in the Infiniti, with a PHEV drivetrain, and a modest battery pack... and build something with similar 350-400hp/tq performance to an early Evora, or a BMW i8, at Nissan Z kind of price tag, maybe with a little less aluminum than Evora, and without the CF monocoque and luxury materials of the i8.
Like this, but reversed... and tuned for sporting behavior... which is pretty much the same as BMW i8's drivetrain, and Chevy’s Voltec 2.