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Nissan might offset the cost of designing the next Z coupe by launching a Z crossover

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Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

When Nissan unveiled the controversial Gripz concept (pictured) at the Frankfurt Motor Show, many enthusiasts panicked because they assumed the 370Z’s long-awaited replacement would take the form of a crossover instead of a sleek coupe. The Japanese car maker openly admits the Gripz might be the first-ever Z car on stilts, but it won’t take the spot of the heritage-laced coupe model.

Instead, the Gripz concept might morph into a sporty crossover that will be positioned above the Juke in Nissan’s international lineup. It could ride on the same platform as the 370Z, a move that will help Nissan reap the benefits of economies of scale and off-set the cost of designing the next Z coupe. At this point, it’s too early to tell if the Z-inspired  styling will make the jump from the show floor to the showroom.

The Gripz concept’s fate will largely depend on what the next 370Z looks like. Speaking to Australian website Motoring, Hiroshi Tamura, NISMOS’s chief product specialist, hinted the coupe will be replaced by a brand new model that is expected to be smaller, lighter, and more affordable. It might trade the current 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6 engine for a more efficient four-cylinder assisted by an electric motor in a bid to comply with the strict emissions regulations that are going to come into effect globally in the next few years.

Designers are still toying around with what the next Z car will look like. According to Tamura, all that’s certain at this point is that the coupe will not borrow any design cues from the retro-styled iDX concept that was shown in Tokyo a couple of years ago. The iDX was simply a “vision” built to woo show-goers, and it will not spawn a production model.

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Nissan stresses that the Gripz hasn’t been given the green light for production yet, and a replacement for the 370Z is at least two years away because the company is in no rush to bring it to the market. Executives recently confirmed the next GT-R has been delayed until 2020, meaning Nissan’s sport-focused lineup won’t change a whole lot in the coming years.