Nissan Plans New Crossover…To Become Z-Car?!?
Successor to 240Z and Kin Could Be Small, Sporty Crossover
UK-based magazine Autocar is reporting what many would call automotive heresy: The next Nissan Z will be a baby crossover. That’s a move that will likely enrage both die-hard sports car fans and truck-happy SUV folk.
While plans for the next Z haven’t yet been revealed, Autocar reports that sources within Nissan have confirmed that the successor to the current 370Z sports car will be a small sports crossover. This follows the news last year that the successor to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will also be a sporty crossover, likely a hybrid.
According to Autocar, Nissan has no plans to increase the engine size of the Z, which started out powered by a 2.4L I-6 in 1969, which grew incrementally higher and gained an extra bank of cylinders to become the 3.7L V-6 powering the current 370Z. A larger engine likely wouldn’t fit in with the Z’s ethos as a compact sports car. As such, sources suggest that the next Z will instead be powered by a 1.6L turbocharged I-4, mounted to the company’s CMF B architecture currently underpinning the Qashqai small crossover.
If that’s the case, then we don’t really think Nissan has much of a business case with a crossover Z-car. While a compact hatchback with a turbo engine, front-drive bones, and a backseat will likely sell better than a two-seat sports car, that niche is already filled in Nissan’s lineup by the Juke “sportcross.” Indeed, the next-gen Juke will move to the CMF B architecture, meaning it and the prospective Z-car would be identical in most ways that matter. The only differences could be states of engine tune and body styling, with the Z getting perhaps 25 percent more horsepower than the Juke and a somewhat sportier roofline. But if Nissan is so hellbent on making an SUV that’s sportier and more youthful than the Juke (all the while using the same platform as that compact crossover), why not just turn the Juke’s wick up to 11 and allow the Z-car to use the same form factor it’s used for nearly 50 years?
We can’t help but facepalm at the idea of yet another small SUV that’s mostly useless at the things that SUVs should be able to do. While automotive genres keep blurring the lines (Porsche sedans that are faster than Ferraris, high-performance Bentley SUVs, Nissan’s own ill-fated Murano CrossCabriolet), we wish that automakers would color within the lines a little more, especially with such a legendary nameplate as the Nissan Z. If things keep going the way they’re headed, we’ll see a Smart ForTwo-based Mercedes G-Class before long.