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Why Nissan’s next Z-badged car could morph into a high-riding crossover

Nissan is still debating the direction it wants to take with its iconic Z line, according to a recent report. Z-badged cars have traditionally been coupes, but the next model could gain a few extra inches of ground clearance in order to appeal to a wider audience.

Nissan showed the world what a Z-badged crossover could look like when it introduced the sporty Gripz concept (pictured) during last year’s edition of the Frankfurt Auto Show. Executives stressed the Gripz was merely a design study built for the auto show circuit, but that didn’t stop rumors of a production model from raging across the auto industry like a wildfire.

Australian website CarAdvice points out Nissan has been surprisingly vague about the next-generation Z car. The company has promised the Z will be a part of its lineup forever, but it hasn’t shot down the rumors that claim the model will morph into a crossover. In comparison, members of Nissan’s top brass quickly denied the reports that speculated the retro-styled IDx concepts would spawn a production model aimed right at the Subaru BRZ.

Perhaps tellingly, Paul Willcox, the head of Nissan’s European division, told CarAdvice that he wouldn’t rule anything out or rule anything in regarding the next-generation Z. However, he suggested that designing a low-volume model like a coupe from scratch doesn’t make a lot of business sense for a volume automaker like Nissan.

“The risk is to chase every single segment in the market. I have a line of product managers who come to me and want product in every segment. If we do that, the economics, engineering, design, and trying to make a return … it doesn’t work. We have to be absolutely critical to make sure the car can deliver volume,” Willcox explained. “We’re going to focus on [vehicles such as] crossovers, and having the right products to complement that,” he added.

Of course, it’s plausible that Nissan is intentionally remaining quiet about the next-generation Z to surprise enthusiasts with a brand new coupe. We likely won’t have to wait long to find out, because the 370Z is expected to join its predecessors in the pantheon of automotive history in the next couple of years.

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