The Nissan Gripz concept unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, front three-quarter view.
  • Image Credit: AOL - Jonathon Ramsey
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.

Check out the PR, as well as the official gallery from Nissan, both of which can be found down below. Up top, you can see our live images from the floor of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Have a look, and then do your thing in Comments and let us know how you feel about the Nissan Gripz Concept.

Show full PR text
Nissan Gripz Concept: A radical sports crossover

Dramatic 2+2 takes Crossover concept to a new level

A new breed of sporty compact crossover for a new, younger generation
Inspired by classic desert rally cars and racing bicycles
Packed with EV technology, based on Series hybrid system "Pure Drive" e-Power
Introducing "emotional geometry" design language from Nissan
Built in "dashcam" cameras take Nissan's safety technology to a new level
FRANKFURT – Crossover pioneer Nissan has revealed a new concept car that points to an innovative new future for the brand. Conceived by designers in Europe and Japan, the Nissan Gripz Concept blends the ability and practicality of a compact crossover with the excitement and performance of a sports car.

Infused with an exciting and adventurous feel – thanks to its radical design and advanced powertrain concept – the Nissan Gripz Concept is Nissan's next move as a game changer. It is a glimpse of how a future compact crossover from the pioneer of the segment might look.

The Nissan Gripz Concept is designed as a car with a dual personality – a vehicle that can handle the day-to-day commute and deliver a genuine adventure at the weekend.

In the same way a cyclist will use a bike to get to work and then head out on that same machine for an adrenaline fuelled ride when the working day is over, so too can the driver of the Nissan Gripz Concept tackle the city streets during the week before enjoying a drive over a mountain pass on a day off.

Inspiration
Although maintaining a similar footprint to a compact crossover, the Nissan Gripz Concept has the silhouette of a sports car with a raised ride height, equipped to conquer more challenging driving conditions.

The result pays homage to one of Nissan's first "crossovers" – the iconic Safari Rally-winning Nissan 240Z. In the 1970s, these sports cars were re-engineered using expertise gathered from Nissan's 4x4 range to cope with the demanding conditions of the Baja Peninsula, the open plains of Kenya, Uganda and present day Tanzania. These rally racers featured a raised ride height, toughened suspension and sported a matte-black finish for the bonnet and trunk set against a deep red-orange body color.

The Nissan 240Zs were proof that sports cars didn't have to be low to the ground to be fun. The Nissan Gripz Concept proves this again – incorporating Nissan's expertise in crossovers, 4x4s, sports cars, and to bring it fully up to date for the new generation, electric powertrain prowess.

Powertrain
The Nissan Gripz Concept is equipped with an EV technology based Series hybrid system "Pure Drive e-Power." An efficient gasoline engine is used to power the electric motor found in the Nissan LEAF.

The powertrain combines Nissan's various control technologies from its years of experience developing EVs. This configuration delivers smooth, swift and linear acceleration in near-silence, with supreme efficiency. As a result, the Nissan Gripz Concept offers a smooth, refined and exhilarating driving experience with outstanding fuel efficiency.

Design
The Nissan Gripz Concept is seen as a design statement rather than a replacement for an existing model, although it does feature cues from Nissan's new "emotional geometry" design language.

The Crossover concept incorporates four key design elements first seen in Europe on the Nissan Sway, one of the stars of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. As with Sway, Gripz features a V-motion grille, boomerang lamps front and rear, a floating roof and a kicked-up C pillar.

However, the similarities end there. While Sway hinted at a possible direction for a compact hatchback, the Nissan Gripz Concept is quite the different proposition.

"Nissan pioneered the idea of the compact crossover, and this is reflected in the enormous popularity of Qashqai and JUKE and the resulting growth of the market segment as other manufacturers play catch-up,"said Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president and chief creative officer, Nissan Motor Company, Ltd."While the Nissan Gripz Concept is not seen as a direct replacement for either of those two iconic vehicles, it does show the extremes to which the compact crossover can be pushed."

Created through collaboration between Nissan Design Europe in London and Nissan Global Design Center in Japan, the exterior of the Nissan Gripz Concept is guided by the "emotional geometry" body sculpting concept which depicts strong contrasts through the dynamic, tensional, yet edgy surface.

Dual Personality
Taking the high-tech simplicity – two apparent contradictions – of a racing bicycle as inspiration, the concept features a carbon frame over which expressive body panels are placed, like armored cladding.

Exposed carbon elements spear through the design, accentuating features such as the boomerang-shape given to the leading edge of the front door structure. Gripz has four doors – with deep dihedral front doors that swing out and up when opened, and a pair of rear-hinged half-doors behind. There is no B-pillar, allowing easy access to the 2+2 interior.

The front end is dominated by Nissan's V-motion grille, mounted low and framed by rectangular lamps housing high and low beams.

Embedded in the lamps are forward-facing cameras that record every journey, just as a helmet-cam is used by cyclists. Using a live feed, adventures through great roads can be beamed around the world, allowing for friends to follow the car's progress on their computer, tablet or smart phone in real time.

Boomerang-shaped running lights sit above the lamps, on top of the front fenders and denote the demarcation line between the matt-black bonnet and the red-orange main body color.

More matte-black can be found on the extended wheel arches, the pinched and indented triangular sill (raised to increase ground clearance) and the A-pillar leading to the floating roof. The roof features a central glazed panel with bullet grey-colored composite panels on either side over the seating areas.

These reduce in width as they flow towards the rear of the car and blend into the rear lamps, which mirror the boomerang shape of the front running lights and wrap themselves around the rear three quarters of the car.

At the rear, a dramatic truncated matte-black Kamm tail gives the concept a "codatronca" effect, while beneath the tailgate sits a pair of chromed trapezoidal exhaust pipes.

Constructed for the concept by Bridgestone, three-spoke, 22-inch wheels are also inspired by racing bicycles – lightweight yet strong, wearing comparatively thin high-pressure tires. Red and white graphics on the sidewalls are replicated on the car's steering wheel.

While the exterior was created in Europe, a dedicated team based in Japan designed the interior. Like the exterior, functional simplicity is the key to the design.

Again featuring a mix of matte-grey and the deep red-orange colors, the interior underlines the car's Tour de France inspiration with exposed tubes, molded bucket seats and layered features echoing the cladding effect found on the exterior.

The seats and center console are directly inspired by bicycles, as are the door pulls that are shaped like saddles from a racing bike. The three-spoke steering wheel, meanwhile, replicates the car's road wheels, right down to the special graphics found on the tire sidewalls.

Like the Nissan Sway Concept and recent production cars, the Nissan Gripz Concept has a "Gliding Wing" instrument panel. This elegantly thin design combines strength with simplicity and perfectly echoes the ethos of the concept.

"What influence this Concept's design has on the next crossover generation from Nissan remains to be seen, though we are keen to gauge public reaction when it appears at the Frankfurt Show," said Nakamura.

Nissan Gripz Concept Dimensions (mm)
Length 4,100
Width 1,890
Height 1,500
Wheelbase 2,580

About Nissan in Europe
Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 17,600 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last calendar year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 675,000 vehicles including award-winning crossovers, small cars, SUVs, commercial vehicles and electric vehicles, including the Nissan LEAF, the world's most popular electric vehicle with 96% of customers willing to recommend the car to friends. Nissan now offers a strong line-up of 23 diverse and innovative models in Europe under the Nissan and Datsun brands.

About Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 247,500 employees globally, Nissan sold almost 5.32 million vehicles and generated revenue of 11.38 trillion yen (USD 103.6 billion) in fiscal 2014. Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of more than 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands. Nissan leads the world in zero-emission mobility, dominated by sales of the LEAF, the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and the best-selling EV in history.

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