A hint of things to come, or just a random power upgrade in a video game?

The Nissan Z Proto was revealed to the world last September. As an early prototype of the next-generation Z sports car, the automaker shared just enough details to keep enthusiasts interested. Specifics on the engine and its output were never mentioned, outside of it being a twin-turbocharged V6. Now, it's possible Nissan is hiding the ultimate potential of its performance machine in plain sight, specifically in the digital world of a video game.

The game in question is Project Cars 3, which recently offered a new downloadable car pack that included the Nissan Z Proto. What's interesting here is that the digital version is listed with 445 bhp (332 kilowatts) – far more than the 400 ponies most people expected to find under the bonnet. Rumours have pointed to the new Z getting the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, which packs the aforementioned 400 bhp. In early February, that was seemingly confirmed by photos showing the Red Sport's engine under the Z Proto's bonnet. So what's up with this 445-bhp video game rating?

To begin with, this is just a video game and real-world attributes are never exaggerated or misrepresented in such a realm. Lest we forget, Project Cars 3 launched with the C8 Corvette and the C8.R, the latter of which had a laughable 6,500-rpm redline. Listening to the race car in real life, it's obvious the flat-plane-crank engine peaks far higher, so yeah, a rather disappointing arcade-ish racing game isn't exactly an ideal source for unearthing credible information. And with as secretive as Nissan's been with the Z Proto overall, we highly doubt this is some accidental leak.

For the record, we asked Nissan point-blank about the Z Proto in the game. Curiously, a spokesperson answered by stating the automaker "cannot comment on future production plans, or specifications." We reiterated our question was about Nissan's involvement with the game, not the actual car or the so-called production 400Z it might lead to. Frankly, that initial response left us wondering whether Nissan is actually teasing its production car with this video game appearance, at least in terms of maximum power output. If that's the case, then the new Z could be quite a machine, indeed.

Gallery: Nissan Z Proto In Project Cars 3

The other possibility is that it's just a game, and to make the Z Proto look good, an arbitrary bhp figure was plugged in because why not? Having virtually driven the Z Proto in PC3, it's certainly zippy and it emits a neat six-cylinder growl with proper wooshing of the digital turbos. As the screengrabs above show, it certainly looks sharp in PC3, both inside and out. So while Nissan's cagey reply certainly raised our eyebrows, 445 bhp could well be just a fictional super-Z to play with in a good-looking game.

Nissan did pledge to get back with us regarding their involvement with Project Cars 3, but that reply will come "as soon as it's available." When – or if – we receive that reply, we will certainly share it here.