The current Nissan Z is nearly a decade old and the automaker has given not even the slightest suggestion of a successor. However, the company’s most memorable model is perhaps not completely dead, according to a Nissan executive’s recent statements.
Nissan chief planning officer Philippe Klein told Automotive News in an interview published yesterday, “We want to keep [the Z] alive, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Klein admitted that “The Z is a difficult market” and that it is “shrinking worldwide.” It’s true, increased safety regulations make engineering a lightweight and low-slung sports more difficult, what with added equipment for occupants and minimum height requirements for pedestrian injury mitigation. But in fact it is changing driving habits that might doom the sports car. As per Automotive News:
He said the rise of SUVs and crossovers has shifted consumers’ mindset away from “speed, acceleration and cornering” as vehicle attributes.
Still, Klein says that “We still believe there is a place for the Z.”
Before we get too excited, though, a close reading of Klein’s statements seems to indicate that they are working on how to justify the Z in the short term, as we wait for its successor in the long term. Again, Klein:
“For the long term, there are other considerations. If we do a complete new vehicle, what should it be to keep the passion alive? And we’re working very seriously on this — how we can keep the Z alive and refreshing and what would be the next generation?”
In a sense, it’s easier to talk about a future Z. Myriad powertrain options, from hybrid to pure electric may ensure the survival of Nissan’s trademark sports car. It’s the bridge that may prove more difficult, especially if a competitive offering must be built atop an existing platform.
“The passion is there,” Klein told Automotive News. “The question is how can we refresh it and what will be the breakthrough for the long term?”