Cars and Concepts
JAY RAMEY

Will the next Nissan Z be a crossover?

Frankfurt auto show may see a compact crossover take over for the 370Z

Nissan's latest small crossover -- the Kicks concept -- was shown in 2014 in Sao Paulo. Nissan plans to showcase how a "Z' crossover could look as early as the Frankfurt auto show this month. Photo credit: NISSAN
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

After scrapping production plans for the Nissan IDx coupes, there is now a very real possibility that the next Z car will be a crossover. Autocar reports that not only will it be previewed in concept form at the Frankfurt auto show, but that it will go on sale in 2017.

How did we get to this point?

For starters, the current 370Z will be allowed to expire by 2017. As its replacement, Nissan had been considering a smaller coupe as a possibility, previewing it in concept form at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. The IDx would have been powered by a four-cylinder engine, and would have been a throwback to the packaging offered by the Datsun Z cars of the 1970s.

The company has chosen not to go that route, and has indicated that it will instead market a small sports crossover.

Nissan executives have indicated that the company will not be rehashing the same formula or trying to improve upon the 370Z directly.

“I don’t think the next one [Z car] is going to be the 390Z," the company's design chief, Shiro Nakamura, told the Australian media. "It’s not growing because it’s already big enough. You know, 350 started with 240, 300, 350 and then came 370. I don’t think we should go higher."

Why might this signal a change in vehicle type? Nissan executives already feel that a new approach is needed for the Z to avoid pushing the car up against the Nissan GT-R.

The Kicks.

"We need to take another path," Nakamura continued. "I feel Z needs more revolution than evolution. I think GT-R has to stay the most high-performance symbol of Nissan technology and Z is a more affordable sports car or a sporty car to get the younger people."

Autocar reports, citing an insider source, that the crossover will make use of Renault-Nissan's CMF B platform, and that it's expected to use the 1.6-liter turbo engine in the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy, which in the French hatch produces 220 hp and 191 pounds-feet of torque. That means the 3.7-liter V-6 engine will be out, getting the new Z car down a few branches on the price tree, which the 370Z had been climbing as it gained power and luxury materials.

The Z crossover, when it debuts, is expected to be around the same size as the Nissan Juke, and will likely borrow the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission from the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy, this time pairing it with all-wheel drive.

When might we see it on sale? Autocar predicts it'll be out right around the time the 370Z heads out, in early 2017.

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