Nissan Gripz Concept foreshadows Z’s dark future

Crossover buyers, your love of lifted hatchbacks might be ruining one of the purest sports cars on the planet, the Nissan Z. The Gripz concept you see here foretells a future in which our beloved Z car takes the shape of a functional, high-riding crossover. Sigh.

Now, to be perfectly fair, we aren’t opposed to the way this new concept car looks. It’s a muscular design, with its prominent V Motion grille and sharp body lines. We particularly like the way the A-pillar bleeds into the doors and dash; it’s a cool touch. Nissan claims this look was inspired by racing bicycles and desert rally cars, which sounds good. We won’t agree with the company’s assertion that it pays homage to the 240Z that won the Safari Rally, which Nissan has the gall to call “one of [its] first ‘crossovers.'” A 240Z is not a crossover, just like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Subaru STI, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Polo, or any other rally car is not a crossover.

In terms of praise, we do appreciate the Gripz’s trio of doors, which is certainly more sporting than a conventional five-door layout. That’s not the only good news, either. This concept is actually shorter and wider than the current 370Z, and by several inches in both cases. It is, however, seven inches taller than the low-slung two-seater, which makes this a net loss.

Under hood, there’s not some barking, turbocharged version of the current 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6, but a version of the Leaf EV’s electric motor. It’s paired up with a gas-powered engine that “is used to power the electric motor,” making it sound like this is more of a Chevrolet Volt-style hybrid than a Toyota Prius. Of course, there’s no mention whether the Gripz has plug-in capability.

We’ll admit, our disdain for this vehicle may be premature. Nissan has not given any indication that the 370Z will be discontinued – it was recently updated, and a Nismo-based roadster concept was shown earlier this year – or that the Z family will transition to a CUV platform. But, the language used throughout the press release below, not to mention the name and references to the original Z is rather worrying. It’s certainly not the relationship to the 240Z we were hoping for when we posted this report back in June.
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