NEWS: Nissan’s Z-inspired crossover — “They’re not idiots”

Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG11

Nissan has unveiled the Gripz, the Safari Rally Z-inspired crossover at Frankfurt. Last week, Z enthusiasts reached for their pitchforks after media-fueled assumptions that it would replace the Z. But like we said on Friday, let’s take a deep breath. This is not the replacement for the next Z. 

The idea that Nissan could replace its most renowned sports car with a crossover seemed so farfetched that we didn’t believe it ourselves, but very credible outlets (and many not-so-credible) were reporting it as such. Unlikely as it appeared, we had to reach out to some friends at Nissan to ask what management was thinking. The response?

“They’re not idiots.”

Okay? Everyone can relax now. If you need an official statement, here’s one straight from the Frankfurt press release this morning:

The Nissan Gripz Concept is seen as a design statement rather than a replacement for an existing model… even though it does feature cues from Nissan’s new ’emotional geometry’ design language.

So it’s not the new Z. What is it, then? Nissan calls it a sports crossover, and says it’s the mutant recombination of a traditional 2+2 sports coupe, crossover, 4×4, electric hybrid, rally car and racing bicycle. Did we leave anything out?

Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG06

It’s about an inch shorter than the Juke, and seeks to prove that, like the rally 240Z, “sportscars [don’t] have to be low to the ground to be fun.”

Looking at the doors, it says Mazda RX-8 more than a Z. Opening them reveals an interior with A-pillars inspired by a bicycle frame, bucket seats inspired by a bicycle saddle, and a steering wheel inspired by a carbon bicycle wheel.

Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG03Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG17

There’s lots of carbon fiber all around, including the hood, which happens to pay homage to the Datsun 240z rally cars of the early 1970s.

Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG04

“What influence the concept’s design has on the next crossover generation from Nissan remains to be seen, though we are keen to gauge public reaction,” said Nissan Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura. And in case you were afraid it would replace the Juke or Qashqai, there’s no need to worry on that front either:

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.

So, there. What was a harbinger of the endtimes for the Z faithful actually turned out to be something pretty cool that we can come to gripz with (ha!) — a concept that shows Nissan is paying attention to its motorsports heritage. As for the Z itself, there’s still distressingly little word about it, and it still may need saving.

Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG02 Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG12Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG08 Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG07Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept RG13 Nissan Gripz Datsun 240Z rally inspired concept 02


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34 Responses to NEWS: Nissan’s Z-inspired crossover — “They’re not idiots”

  1. Toyotageek says:

    Looks like a new Hot Wheels.

  2. nisman says:

    “there not idiots”, I think nissan are at the moment by not going through with the idx. I know options are divided on the idx, but I really liked the retro styling. The Nissan of old (who gave us the r32, Silvia, datsun 510 etc) is dead now.

    • Adam says:

      Ok, I’m gonna be the one to say something painful. It’ll sting a bit, but…oh well.

      The IDX wasn’t THAT good 🙁
      Yep, frowny face.

      It had potential as a lightweight, RWD platform alone. Even if they do build it…don’t expect that thing to have the timeless appeal of the 510, Silvia, yadda, yadda, yadda. It won’t.

      The styling was trying REALLY hard. It’s very much akin to what Keith Richards recently said about rap. “So many words, so little said.”

      It was awkward and disjointed—at best! At worst it’d be a watered-down version of an awkward and disjointed concept car with no side exhaust, jenky proportions and probably poor engine access! Yep, that’s the reality. It’s not 1972 anymore!

      There’s a lot that’s taken for granted with older, compact RWD offerings.

  3. Dankan says:

    “They’re not idiots” is not a statement that they’re not thinking the Z has no future in the marketplace.

  4. DanM says:

    Where not idiots ?

  5. Goodshow_aa says:

    Want to gauge public reaction? What the hell for? They gauged public reaction to the idx and it was great, welcomed and the public seemed to beg for it. Just for them to flush the idea and leave us hanging once again. Hard to stay faithful when you keep getting disappointed. I still don’t believe they will make a frontier diesel, and even if I see it I won’t believe it. I saw the idx in person and look at where that is now?!

  6. Ken S. says:

    That honestly just looks like the next gen Z on donka wheels. You can throw on 22″s on a 370z and get the same effect, except that won’t disappoint the enthusiasts as much.

  7. alvin says:

    Paging Designer D….


    • DesignerD says:

      Ha… I was in Florida recently and saw this fabled unicorn… My mum wants one (target market achieved!) but given their rarity, maybe this might be a future classic?! Just saying…

  8. MikeRL411 says:

    It sometimes takes a kick in the balls to get Yokohama’s attention! The Datsun USA race team wanted to get into “Production Sodan Road Racing” in the mid 1960’s. Yokohama was not interested, and said wait for the SSS version of the new 510! The USA race team was not content to wait for an unproven model to try out the subtilitys of Production Sedan Road Racing clasification, and figured out that a modified Datsun Roadster engine “could” be re-engineered to for the 411 sedan. “Sorrry, we are too busy designing the 510 and especially the race version 510SS” was the answer, “But we want to explore the circuit and don’t want to get Datsun embarrased by the 1300 PL411!” was the response. “What if we were able to design the mods needed to cram the 1600 Roadster engine into the 411 sedan?: was the response from Gardena, the USA Datsun Race Team HQ?” Go ahead, we have production capability, not design talent, here’s a block of drawing numbers, good luck!” was the essentially response. So they did it in Gardina with a lot of enthusiatic help from Yokohama! The front disc brakes were a modified 510 unit because the 1800 engine was a bit to energetic for the existing 411 drum front brakes!

    • MikeRL411 says:

      Make that the 1600 push rod engine!

    • Alan T says:

      Stories like this don’t really stand up to any kind of scrutiny. Nissan raced the 410 and 411 extensively in Japanese domestic touring car classes with properly homologated production models, and didn’t need the fledgling Gardena operation teaching them how to suck eggs. What class of touring car racing would a 1600cc engined 411 be eligible for when a volume production model hadn’t been sold in order to allow them to homologate it? In mid 1965 the 1600 SSS Bluebird debuted and solved that problem, and Gardena had little to do with that.

      ” Go ahead, we have production capability, not design talent, here’s a block of drawing numbers, good luck!”

      Yeah sure.

  9. ahja says:

    Inspired by hybrids, bicycles, and crossovers. Yeah, those are really things that get car enthusiasts blood flowing.

    A trademark of idiocy is not being aware that you are in fact an idiot.

  10. Louis Fong says:

    Those rims would look nice on a 370Z though

  11. Ricky Poole says:

    I like it. And although a crossover z is blasphemy I can see this as its new design. Make it shorter with a longer hood perfect z silhouette.6 cylinder and rwd. I could even deal with the small rear rx8 style doors, if it meant they’d think theyd sell more and so they’ll actually build the damn thing. I am still highly disappointed in the idx getting the ax.

  12. Adam says:

    Unfortunately, it’s standard fare for designers to SELL a concept with marketing babble nowadays.

    It’s tired and frankly a cop out.

    There was a time when a newly introduced design spoke for itself…with no “explanation” necessary!

    In the 20th Century:
    Corvette=Jaw drop
    Mustang=WOW, we haven’t seen that before.
    240z=Oh my god…and it only costs THAT much!?!?!
    NA Miata=Shut up and take my money…IMMEDIATELY.
    NSX=Whhhaaat? That’s a HONDA???

    Now, in the 21st century:
    “WE at ____________ were inspired by applesauce containers, elastic underwear straps and this really futuristic tea kettle. Oh, and while WE’re at it…WE’ve decided to completely whore out a distant, yet triumphant, period of our history…that if you squint a little bit and turn a photo at a ninety degree angle you can totally see we copied with this door crease. Lastly, buy into this spiel for at least 48 months.”

    • Serg says:

      Actually I think I have seen a vacuum cleaner that shared a lot of the same body lines…

      I think it at least had a fearsome name though, like “Sharkvaporator 3000” or something.

  13. Styles says:

    As sure a Qazana became Juke, GripZ is the next generation Juke.

  14. Serg says:

    Overall I like the lines, the nose is a bit OTT if you ask me but the rest is very stylish, sumptuous you could even say – rear vision is obviously low on the design teams priorities though.

    But yeah, I agree with comments above that it’s a wasted exercise when projects like the IDx get canned after little time in the sun, but I’m sure we’ll see those design cues on the next Juke/Murano/Qashcar-whateveritscalled.

  15. Pete240z says:


  16. Randy says:

    Bicycle parts as inspiration? For that type of “inspiration,” I still prefer the Urge concept. Motorcycle-ish parts, vs. BICYCLE?

    I actually like this, stylistically, but as with the IDx: IT AIN’T GONNA GET BUILT, so the excitement level for me is about zero.

    Let’s take it as it is – a styling exercise, maybe it runs (with a CVT); maybe it doesn’t. Blending in elements of an electric hybrid… Almost exciting enough to wake up for. Looks cool, but okay, whatever.

    I’ll take a Vehicross, thanks. At least they actually exist.

    Nice to play with the clay, though.

    • Randy says:

      I keep forgetting to put everything in one… Anyway:

      “They’re not idiots,” is a non-answer. Could be that they don’t see the sports car market as doing well enough to keep it around, thus they’re not idiots who’d keep the car around.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Yes, but not having one at all is better than having a Z crossover.

      • Randy says:

        I’ll agree there. Kill it, but don’t ruin it.

      • dickie says:

        Ben, that’s sort of a bold statement coming from you.

        After all the controversy and the fanboyism surrounding the idx concept, it’s good to see most of us have settled on the reality that Nissan no longer makes exciting cars.

        If you have GTR money, you get the epitome of a point-and-click experience. A cruise missile with a smart enough brain to make up for the lack of intelligence and driving ability of its owners.

        If you have Z money, you get a competent (albeit porky) Grand Tourer with sporting intentions that come up short on the street, strip and road course compared to its contemporaries.

        Nissan will never fill the slot the 510 and S-Chassis once occupied. It’s cheaper for them to sponsor a car show that features these models and lean heavily on their historical efforts than to devote resources to future development of a small and inexpensive RWD platform.

        What’s worse is that they used a totally polarizing concept to gauge consumer interest for just such a vehicle. Sometimes you take risks with styling and it pays off in spades; you set the new trend or at least introduce a new aspect that becomes the next fad (led strips in headlights, for example). But in the case of the idx, it apparently turned so many people off with its gimmicky and overly busy design that the plug – only ever halfway in to begin with – was summarily pulled. I bet if they’d picked something more subdued instead of trying to out-crease and angle every other manufacturer out there, it would have had a better chance of making it to production. At least the underpinnings, anyway.

  17. Sarge says:

    That car and that girl have one main thing in common; you’ll never have either one.

  18. Randy says:

    Man, how jaded have I become? I didn’t even notice the girl… Wow…

    I could see the Gripz working, but NOT as a Z replacement. If it was its own model, maybe a “performance Juke” kind of thing – on the Juke’s chassis, even, I could see it selling. Maybe NISMO chassis tuning, but not the full upgrade in the engine compartment – save that for a higher-performance version of it.

    I think it was Nissan that had a concept for the South American market that was a 2-door, jacked-up (in the good sense), AWD vehicle. It was that orangey color they were using for lots of their concepts a few years ago. *I* liked it…

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