Nissan is reportedly hard at work on its next-generation Z. According to Inside Line, designers are already churning away on a concept version of the 2015 Z that may bow at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. The report notes that Shiro Nakamura, head of design for Nissan, says the new Z will be both smaller and lighter than the current 370Z.

The model will also be geared toward a wider audience, and Nissan may be investigating the possibility of ditching the tried-and-true 3.7-liter VQ V6 for a turbocharged four-cylinder, a move that would almost certainly help fuel efficiency. The current Z is saddled with a lackluster 26 mpg highway, and strong early sales of cars like the Scion FR-S certainly indicate certain buyers are willing to drop a few ponies for a machine that's engaging to drive and at least somewhat fuel efficient.

Blasphemy? Maybe, but the thought of an engaging, lightweight turbo four sports car is the stuff dreams are made of – it's the "wider audience" part of the discussion that has us concerned as enthusiasts. A smaller Z would likely mean abandoning the Z's FM platform which also underpins machines like the Infiniti G Coupe and Sedan as well as the FX softroader. Inside Line says Nissan may turn to its corporate partner Daimler for some help in the chassis department.

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