Will Nissan’s Frankfurt concept preview a Z-replacing crossover?

Nissan crossover concept teaser (Frankfurt Motor Show 2015)
Following rumors that it is considering replacing the current 370Z sports car with a crossover, Nissan revealed a teaser for a sporty crossover concept it plans to debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

Z or not, it seems the unnamed crossover concept will continue the more dynamic styling theme used by Nissan recently, with the same prominent grille and sci-fi lighting elements seen on several of the company’s concept and production cars. Interestingly, the concept is also red with a black hood, just like the Datsun 240Z that famously won the 1971 East African Safari Rally.

Transforming Nissan’s legendary Z from a sports car into a crossover could make marketing sense, even if it doesn’t seem to make much basic logical sense. A crossover would be able to appeal to a much broader range of customers, and greater potential parts sharing with other Nissan models could help lower the vehicle’s cost.

A previous report said the crossover would be close in size to the Juke, but it would presumably be even sportier than the current Juke NISMO RS model. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is reportedly a likely engine choice; Nissan will have to give it some serious power to live up to the Z name.

As the current-generation Z has aged, there’s been much talk about building a smaller, less expensive Nissan sports car. It was previously thought that role would be filled by a production version of the wildly popular IDx concepts, but that project seems to have hit a dead end. A small crossover could be a good budget-priced performance vehicle, but slapping a Z badge on it still seems a little strange.

It’s not just about offending purists, either. The Z brand may just not be elastic enough to encompass both a rear-wheel drive two-seat sports car and a small crossover. After all, they’re two very different types of vehicles. So while Nissan’s Frankfurt crossover concept may turn out to be something interesting for enthusiasts, it may still be better if Nissan leaves the Z badge on the shelf.

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