Hanging in the Balance: Nissan Shows Confusion, Uncertainty over the Next Z-Car
Nissan could make the same mistake Mitsubishi did with the Lancer and Eclipse…by Robert Moore, on
We all want to know about the next Z-car, but Phillip Klein – Nissan’s Chief Planning Officer – couldn’t even give us a slight glimmer of hope last week during the Tokyo Auto Show. Long story short: It sounds like a new Z-Car may not happen and, even if it does, it will be a long time before we see it.
Let’s face it; sports cars are freaking awesome, but they all have expiration dates. Most automakers understand this – there’s a reason cars like the Porsche 911 and Chevy Corvette have been through more generations than you can count on one hand. Automakers like Mitsubishi, and Nissan, apparently, seem to have missed that memo, though. If you remember right, Mitsubishi let the Lancer go one for a decade without an update, and then let it die a slow, miserable death. Well, as it turns out, Nissan could very well do the same with the Z-car. When the Tokyo Auto Show kicked off, we were expecting to the Nissan 390Z concept, but instead, all we got was an executive that refused to even confirm the car exists let alone offer up information of when the next production Z will actually arrive.
“There’s a lot of passion behind this vehicle…. At the same time, it’s a segment that’s gradually declining, making the case more difficult. We have no intention to quit excitement, but we’re going to make it happen in different ways,” said Klein. Design Chief, Alfonso Albaisa, got in on it on it too, saying, “I can say we don’t have a fixed thing yet… but how can we be completely blind to the importance of that name to the company? Maybe you can feel that I love these cars… but I can’t say too much, or I’ll be taking a train home [instead of my company car]!”
So, at this point, the 370Z is almost a decade old, and Nissan isn’t even sure what to do about a successor. It has said that the GT-R is a better halo car, so the GT-R is safe for now, but perhaps if the brand showed the Z-car some love, it might experience better sales as well. After all, it’s a super senior as far as car generations go. As I said about Mitsubishi and the Lancer – you can’t not bring about something fresh and then use declining sales as a good reason to let it die a pitiful death. But, then again, rumor has it that Nissan is going to take the same approach Mitsubishi did with the Eclipse name. Keep reading to learn more about what could happen to the Z name…
The Stench of Stupid Just Keeps Getting Stronger
The Nissan Gripz is a model that was supposedly modeled after the 240Z
So, here’s the deal. Mitsubishi decided to scrap the Eclipse after the fourth generation because, well, consumers were blind to it. We could argue all day long about why they were blind to it, but it had to do with its horrible design, piss poor engineering, the fact that it was still based on the Galant, and it was just a bit too large. But, that’s just my opinion, and I’m starting to get off topic. The point is that Mitsubishi has brought back the Eclipse name, but it has done so on an SUV. Why? Because everyone is buying them up like they are the next best thing since the invention of condoms. Fast forward to today and poke your head in the boardroom at Nissan, and I bet you anything you’ll hear them talking about why the next vehicle wearing a Z-badge will be a dumb SUV or Crossover. Want evidence? Well, they already hinted at it a couple of years ago with the Nissan Gripz, a model that was supposedly modeled after the 240Z. And, let’s not forget that at least one outlet heard from an “insider” that the next Z will be a “small, sporty crossover about the size of the current Juke.” Ugh…
So, why not shift yet another SUV into production and throw a well-known badge on it. Mitsubishi seems to think it’ll work with the Eclipse Cross, so it can work for the Nissan Z too, right? I’m not so sure, folks. I have a feeling Nissan is going to take this path, and everyone who loved the Z cars for what they were (and rightfully so) is going to turn their backs and walk away because the Z badge deserves better than that. The world has enough crossovers and, if Nissan would not let the current model live longer than my grandmother, consumers might be interested in it again. I don’t know, though. Maybe I’m just tired of seeing awesome names die needlessly and automakers try to hang onto the fame that those names once garnered by using them for something else. What do you guys think? Would you buy a new Z-badged crossover, or should Nissan usher in a new RWD coupe as a successor? Or, should they just kill off the car altogether and let the GT-R do all of the work in this niche? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Nissan Z.
Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan 370Z.
Read our full review on the 2016 Nissan Gripz Concept.