Nissan Is Considering a Z SUV Because Why Not

Japanese automaker needs a cash cow, and this might be it

The Nissan Z Proto’s arrival has thrust Nissan straight to the headlines, and as speculation continues to grow on what kind of next-generation Z sports car is going to come out of the concept vehicle, word has it that Nissan isn’t going to stop with just a new Z sports car.

Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s Senior VP for Global Product Planning, admitted during a recent media event that a Z SUV (or crossover) is something that Nissan is currently exploring. Espinoza stopped short of confirming anything, but the fact that it’s even in consideration speaks to the lengths that Nissan will go to in order to maximize the strength and appeal of its Z brand. Given the company’s current financial struggles, a Z SUV doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

Why would Nissan pursue a Z SUV?

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Nissan is in a delicate position these days. The automaker’s financial struggles are all well-documented and the automaker is well within its rights — and sensibilities — to explore any potential ideas for new models that could bring in much-needed money to its coffers. Nissan’s SUVs are performing about as well as the company could expect, but that’s still not enough. Fresh new models are needed, especially those that could turn into cash cows for Nissan. It just so happens that an SUV with a Z badge on it might the model for the job.

It’s not like Nissan is shying away from it, too. Ivan Espinoza, the automaker’s Senior VP for Global Product Planning, mentioned in a recent media event that Nissan is already exploring the possibility of a Z SUV that would, in theory, carry the same sports-oriented DNA of a Z sports car. “There’s always a temptation; we’re always exploring these things,” Espinosa told CarAdvice during the media event.

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Espinoza added that the Z brand has enough cache and appeal as a brand that Nissan could explore different avenues on how to grow it beyond offering a Z sports car. This early, don’t be shocked if that “growth” comes in the form of a Nissan Z SUV.

What would a Nissan Z SUV look like?

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It’s hard to say at this point, but if Nissan does give the green light to produce a Z SUV, it’ll most likely be derived from the Z Proto, just like the next-generation Z sports car. Nissan hit a home run with the Z Proto’s design by successfully infusing Nissan’s greatest hits retro design cues with modern aesthetics. The Z Proto has everyone excited about what the next-generation Z sports car is going to look like. Leveraging that design and adapting it to an SUV would be an interesting proposition, to say the least.

As far as powertrain goes, Nissan could use the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine that could also make its way to the next-generation Z sports car.
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There’s been talk that Nissan wants the new Z sports car’s engine to produce 400 horsepower — same as in the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. If that ends up being the case, a Z SUV with the same engine producing the same output wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

The mechanical setup would, of course, be different. But Nissan can tap into some of its existing platforms to build a Z SUV around. In any event, a Nissan Z SUV shouldn’t stray too far from the Z Proto’s looks — if it ever comes to that.

Could a Nissan Z SUV work?

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I suppose it’ll depend on your expectations, but there’s no mistaking that a Nissan Z SUV would capture the auto world’s attention in more ways than one. The Z purists would probably scoff at the idea of a Z SUV largely because it flies against the identity of the Z nameplate. But other automakers faced similar criticism from the old-school lot and that didn’t stop these companies from pushing forward with their SUVs. That’s why the Lamborghini Urus is here, and no one’s complaining about it now.

A Nissan Z SUV would probably follow the same narrative. There will be people who will initially be turned off by the idea of bastardazing the Z nameplate with an SUV. Nissan will ignore them, develop the Z SUV, and release it in the market to plenty of attention and, hopefully, acclaim.

What’s the bottom line?

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Nissan needs a new cash cow, and if there’s potential for that to be the Z SUV, then nobody should be stopping Nissan from pursuing it. Lord knows Nissan needs a hot ticket item soon. The Nissan Z SUV could be the company’s ticket back to prosperity.

Source: Car Advice

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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