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Nissan’s rally-inspired Gripz concept hints at next Z car

When rumors circulated that the Nissan 370Z would be replaced by a Juke-sized crossover, Z car enthusiasts responded with an overwhelming “meh.” Well, the crossover in question has been revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and while Nissan hasn’t confirmed whether or not it’ll actually preview a new Z, the design has us at the very least intrigued.

Dubbed the Gripz Concept, the sport compact crossover is aimed at younger buyers and takes inspiration from classic desert rally cars. Specifically, the Gripz features aesthetic nods to the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally, most notably its prominent ground clearance and red and black color scheme.

There’s another vehicle that was heavily scouted during the Gripz’s design process as well, but it’s one you might not think of right off the bat — a road bike. To craft the car’s personality, Nissan’s artisans took note of how bicycles can be used for commuting as well as for adventures off the beaten path, while also adding tangible elements such as saddle-like cutaway seats, an exposed frame dashboard, and a tire pattern wrap on the steering wheel.

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Whatever the influences may be, the Gripz Concept is striking. Its dihedral doors up front and rear-hinged half-doors out back are quite the sight, as are the boomerang headlamps and floating glass roof.

As far as the powertrain goes, the concept is motivated by the electric motor found in the Leaf, but it’s powered by an efficient gasoline engine. Nissan calls the technology Pure Drive e-Power, but despite promises of “smooth, swift, and linear acceleration in near-silence,” no technical specifications were divulged in Frankfurt.

Could the Gripz preview a next-generation Z car? Perhaps in basic shape and architecture, but it’s far too early to make assumptions based on a one-off concept car. Until something solid comes around, take a deeper look at the vehicle’s design with Nissan’s promo video.