Do sports cars have to have two doors and an ultra-low ride height? Nissan says no with the Gripz, a crossover concept bowing at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show that combines the virtues of an electric car, a crossover, and a sports car.
The Nissan Gripz concept has design cues from several Nissan products: Raised-up front fenders recall the Juke, an angular roofline and “floating” blacked-out pillars recall the 370Z and GT-R, and the prominent V-Motion front grille mimics the look of every other new Nissan product. Enormous, 22-inch carbon-fiber wheels sit beneath the carbon-fiber fender cladding. The car is based around a carbon-fiber frame that Nissan says was inspired by high-end road bicycles, with body panels arranged atop the frame “like armored cladding.”
The front doors open upwards, while the rear doors open suicide-style, revealing a 2+2 layout with 4 bucket seats. A minimalist center stack dominates the center of the car, with an unusual instrument cluster in front of the driver that features concentric rings for the tachometer and speedometer, with smaller analog gauges inset inside those elements.
Cameras mounted in the headlights serve as a dashcam, and can also record your on-track exploits when using the Gripz as a performance car. Owners can also view the cameras’ vantage point remotely, for instance when the alarm is tripped.
Beneath the wild bodywork, the Nissan Gripz is a series hybrid, with a small gasoline engine of unspecified output, and the electric motor and lithium-ion battery from the Leaf electric car. It can operate with electric all-wheel drive, and has a performance mode for stronger acceleration. There’s even a drift mode that gives drivers, “a feeling of a rear-wheel-drive sports car,” says Paul Wilcox, chairman of Nissan Europe.
Nissan says the concept references the company’s 240Z rally car from decades past, a raised-up, four-wheel-drive coupe that “was perhaps Nissan’s first crossover,” says Wilcox. Its hood is painted matte gray to match those rally racers.
Ultimately, the Gripz signals Nissan’s focus on crossovers and electric cars, rather than traditional sports coupes like today’s 370Z. The concept is the strongest affirmation yet that the next-gen Z might not be a coupe at all.
“It is a fresh perspective on what a sports car can, and arguably should, be,” Wilcox says. “We see a day when every Nissan could be electric, including sportier models like the Gripz.”