There simply aren’t enough gearheads in the world – that is the ultimate truth. If there were, SUVs and crossovers wouldn’t be as dominant as they are right now. They would exist, but they would not kill off sedans and sports cars as they are doing nowadays. Perhaps the middle ground of exploring this coexistence of gearheads and family SUVs can be bridged by the new Nissan Gripz concept SUV. It is genuinely a nice looking crossover; we like it and so do most gearheads, apparently, but the truth is that this Nissan Gripz is actually an SUV coming from the noble breed of Nissan Z cars. Yes, that’s right. Nissan’s Z-line will become a crossover paradise and it’ll become that only for one reason – because we haven’t bought enough 370Z cars. It’s a shame really.
The Nissan Gripz does a few things well right off the bat. It is wider and shorter than the 370Z, it has muscular styling, an exaggerated Z style look and, as surprised as we are to actually admit this, it is actually kind of a badass vehicle. Really, it is, no question there. However, if it’s on a mission to kill off one of the most amazing sport car breeds in the history of the human kind, then we’re changing our minds and it can go away forever. While the future of the Z label seems to be coming into question, it seems that we may be getting the Gripz instead of the 370Z instead of in addition to it, which is a deal breaker for us.
First of all, Nissan mentioned that the Gripz concept was inspired by a 240Z from the past that won some Safari Rally. We also picked up on some sportbike styling influences but perhaps the most prominent feature is the rear-quarter profile view, which reveals a distinct 370Z roofline. While this can be a bit frightening considering we’re looking at definite proof of a Z-crossover in the works, what we don’t know for sure is whether or not it will entirely replace one of our favorite sports cars in existence or simply stand in solidarity next to it. Perhaps, even, all is well, and we’re simply looking at a design exercise for the new Juke and, if it looks anything like the Nissan Gripz concept, we will welcome it with open arms.
The most interesting thing about the Nissan Gripz Concept, however, is the fact that it’s a hybrid. In fact, the Gripz is primarily powered by the electric motor from the Nissan Leaf with a small-displacement, high-efficiency gasoline engine serving as more of a range extender. The bad part about all of this is that the electric motor in it isn’t exactly powerful. Nissan took it from the Leaf which means that it can’t provide Z-like performance. What it can do, however, is be extremely efficient. It is aerodynamic, electric, it has a range extending engine and freaking suicide doors. We like that for some strange reason we cannot explain.
Moving into the interior brings us to a world of modernity smartly entwined with the elements inspired by bike and motorcycle parts. Look at the wheel. Doesn’t it look like a wheel from a sports bike? It does and it’s interesting. As for the rest, we don’t see many obstacles that would inhibit Nissan Gripz production in the coming years. Much of the interior can be used in the next iteration of the Nissan vehicles while the most amazing thing would be to get that chronograph display across the rest of the model ranges. It’s just too cool.
All in all, the Nissan Gripz stands a fair chance at redefining exactly what a Z car can be and do. It’s certainly much more utilitarian than its sportier counterparts, but with the right kind of performance, we could see this little one fitting in perfectly. It’s like the Hyundai Veloster, BMW X3, and Subaru Crosstrek all had a baby together, and you can’t seriously tell me you wouldn’t drive that!