Next Nissan Z to get Mercedes-sourced engines?

Expected to arrive next year, the Z will be smaller, lighter and cheaper the 370Z.

A new report coming out of Japan finds that the successor to the Nissan 370Z will be offered with at least two engines supplied by Mercedes-Benz.

Tentatively dubbed Z, the sports car will be introduced with a gasoline-electric drivetrain consisting of a Mercedes-sourced turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and hybrid technology designed and built in-house by Nissan.

Japanese magazine Best Car finds that the two power sources will generate a combined output of 246 horsepower at 6,000 rpms and 258 lb-ft. of torque from 1,250 to 3,500 rpms. A seven-speed automatic transmission will send power to the rear wheels.

Nissan understandably expects that the turbo-electric drivetrain will be mainly popular in Europe and in Japan. In the United States, most Zs will be equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine pulled out of the Mercedes parts bin.

Nissan has other big surprises in store for the Z. It will be smaller, lighter and cheaper than the current 370Z, and it will be introduced exclusively as a convertible.

"Its main market is the US, a market which demands competitively priced convertibles with loads of street cred," explained a company insider.

To keep weight and costs down, Nissan is debating whether to fit the Z with a targa roof or with a T-top, a setup used on a number of Z cars from the 1970s to the 1990s. A retractable power soft top like the one used in the 370Z Roadster (pictured) has been ruled out because it is too expensive.

The Nissan Z will be introduced at a major auto show next year and go on sale shortly after as a 2016 or a 2017 model.

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