Nissan promised a crossover concept that was going to shock the world at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Now that the Japanese automaker has pulled the covers off of the Gripz Concept, consider that “shock-and-awe” strategy a resounding success. The Gripz Concept takes its inspiration from racing bicycles and the Nissan 240Z rally car, the same car that won the iconic Safari Rally back in the 1970s. The finished product is a concept that showcases the possibility of a future Z-inspired crossover, albeit in a very radical manner.

The sports car silhouette and the raised ride height of the Gripz are two of its more prominent features. These two characteristics of the concept underscore the belief that the old 240Zs didn’t have to be low to the ground to be fun to drive. If that’s Nissan’s goal for the Gripz, then it might be onto something here. But the concept is more complicated than that, because depending on your taste for unconventional design, the Gripz Concept will draw heavy reactions from people who either love it or hate it. Some people appreciate Nissan’s boldness while others scoff at the mere suggestion of a Z crossover that could dilute the Z family’s sporting legacy.

To Nissan’s credit, it has exhibited a penchant for taking risks that nobody thought would pan out. That’s what happened with the Juke. Not a lot of people thought it would amount to anything. Now, it’s arguably one of Nissan’s more popular models. It’s still a little early to say if the Gripz will follow that path, but based on the reaction it has received, Nissan could have another winner.

Updated 09/29/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to find out more about the Nissan Gripz Concept.

  • 2016 Nissan Gripz Concept
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The fun starts in the front where the Gripz gets an incredibly aggressive face. The boomerang-like headlights cut two ways, with one end resting on the tight matte black hood and the other jutting out into the fender. Speaking of the hood, it does draw a lot of similarities to certain versions of the classic 1970-1978 Datsun 240Z, an iconic member of Nissan’s Z-badged family of sports cars.

The boomerang-like headlights cut two ways, with one end resting on the tight matte black hood and the other jutting out into the fender.

The hood also blends into Nissan’s prominent V-motion grille. On either side of the grille are rectangular lamps housing the high and low beams. These lamps actually have forward-facing cameras embedded in them. These can be used in a variety of ways, including as a recording device to document the car’s off-road adventures or a live feed that can be seen on any computer, tablet, or smart phone in real time.

The configuration of the front section also highlights the unconventional distribution of panels throughout the concept. The bumper and the fenders, for example, appear to be made entirely from one panel with no clear hints on where one ends and the other starts. A view from the side will show this panel extending all the way to the bleeding A-pillars, stopping only because of the presence of the butterfly front doors. It’s the same thing with the matte black wheel arches and the intakes just below the bumper. The concept also features three-spoke 22-inch concept wheels. The tires were specifically built for the concept by Bridgestone.

The Gritz’s doors are straight out of the concept block too. The scissor doors on the front and the suicide doors on the rear creates a strange configuration when they’re open, but they do eliminate the need for a B-pillar, which makes getting in and out of the car easier. The concept also has a floating roof that evokes a coupe’s body styling. The central glazed panel and bullet grey composite panels on either side arch close to the windshield before sliding into the rear section and blending into the taillights.

At the back, the truncated matte black Kamm tail is emphasized by the high trunkline, giving the Gripz another off-road nod to the classic 240z. The chrome, trapezoidal exhaust pipes integrated into the matte black lower bumper round out the concept’s controversial exterior design.

Interior

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept Interior
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2016 Nissan Gripz Concept Interior
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The interior of the Gripz is a little more subdued than the exterior. The exposed tubes and the 2+2 molded bucket seats draw their inspiration from bicycles. That treatment continues with the steering wheel, which has the same graphics found on the sidewall of the tires, and the door pulls, which actually look like the saddles of a racing bike.

The instrument cluster is also unusual, not because of yet another connection to bicycles, but because of its chronograph-inspired design. It’s probably not the most functional display to read the gauges, but it does look pretty cool. The floating digital display resting between the two-layered dashboard is another quirky design that stands out even more considering that the rest of the center console looks tame by comparison.

Drivetrain

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Nissan didn’t dive into the details of the Gritz’s powertrain, opting only to say that the concept will be equipped with “Pure Drive e-Power,” an EV technology-based series hybrid system made up of a gas engine and the electric motor found in the Nissan LEAF. That really doesn’t explain a whole lot about what we can expect from Nissan, but in some ways, not knowing what to expect makes it fun to speculate on what the company’s up to with what could be a new and evolutionary engine system.

Conclusion

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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I’m not prepared to call the Nissan Gripz Concept a game-changing prototype, but all signs seem to point to that, especially if Nissan ends up using the concept as inspiration for a future crossover under the Z family. I wouldn’t put it past Nissan to make that leap, just like it did with the Nissan Juke.

Whatever happens, the Gripz Concept has already left an indelible mark because it’s going to be talked about well after the Frankfurt Motor Show. That’s how you measure the success of a concept, and in that sense, Nissan hit a home run with this Gripz.

  • Leave it
    • No info about the hybrid system
    • What’s Nissan’s plan for the concept after Frankfurt?

Updated History

Updated 09/11/2015: Nissan announced the official name for its new crossover concept which should be unveiled next week in Frankfurt. Named "Gripz," the new concept car takes inspiration from the 240Z desert race cars and the two-wheel world of road cycling. A fist official video was also dropped, so enjoy!

Press Release

Crossover pioneer Nissan has revealed a new concept car which points to an innovative new future for the marque. Conceived by designers in Europe and Japan, the Nissan Gripz Concept blends the ability and practicality of a compact crossover with the excitement and performance of a sports car.

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Infused with an exciting and adventurous feel, thanks to its radical design and advanced powertrain concept - theNissan Gripz Concept is Nissan’s next move as a game changer, and is a glimpse of how a future compact crossover from the pioneer of the segment might look.

The Nissan Gripz Concept is designed as a car with a dual personality; a vehicle that can handle the day-to-day commute and deliver a genuine adventure at the weekend.

In the same way a cyclist will use a bike to get to work and then head out on that same machine for an adrenaline fuelled ride when the working day is over, so too can the driver of the Nissan Gripz Concept tackle the city streets during the week before enjoying a drive over a mountain pass on a day off.

Inspiration

Although maintaining a similar footprint to a compact crossover, the Nissan Gripz Concept has the silhouette of a sports car with a raised ride height, equipped to conquer more challenging driving conditions.

The result pays homage to one of Nissan’s first ‘crossovers’ - the iconic Safari Rally-winning Nissan 240Z. In the 1970s these sports cars were re-engineered using expertise gathered from Nissan’s 4x4 range to cope with the demanding conditions of the Baja Peninsula, the open plains of Kenya, Uganda and present day Tanzania. These rally racers featured a raised ride height, toughened suspension and sported a matt-black finish for the bonnet and trunk set against a deep red-orange body colour.

The Nissan 240Zs were proof that sports cars didn’t have to be low to the ground to be fun. The Nissan Gripz Concept proves this again - incorporating Nissan’s expertise in crossovers, 4x4s, sports cars, and to bring it fully up to date for the new generation, electric powertrain prowess.

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Powertrain

The Nissan Gripz Concept is equipped with an EV technology based Series hybrid system ‘Pure Drive e-Power’. An efficient petrol engine is used to power the electric motor found in the Nissan LEAF.

The powertrain combines Nissan’s various control technologies from its years of experience developing EVs. This configuration delivers smooth, swift and linear acceleration in near-silence, with supreme efficiency. As a result, the Nissan Gripz Concept offers a smooth, refined and exhilarating driving experience with outstanding fuel efficiency.

Design

The Nissan Gripz Concept is seen as a design statement rather than a replacement for an existing model, although it does feature cues from Nissan’s new ‘emotionalgeometry’ design language.

The Crossover concept incorporates four key design elements first seen in Europe on the Nissan Sway, one of the stars of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. As with Sway, Gripz features a V-motion grille, boomerang lamps front and rear, a floating roof and a kicked-up C pillar.

However, the similarities end there. While Sway hinted at a possible direction for a compact hatchback, the Nissan Gripz Concept is quite the different proposition.

“Nissan pioneered the idea of the compact crossover, and this is reflected in the enormous popularity of Qashqai and Juke and the resulting growth of the market segment as other manufacturers play catch-up.”

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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“While the Nissan Gripz Concept is not seen as a direct replacement for either of those two iconic vehicles, it does show the extremes to which the compact crossover can be pushed,”said Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer.

Created through collaboration between Nissan Design Europe in London and Nissan Global Design Center in Japan, the exterior of the Nissan Gripz Concept is guided by the ‘emotional geometry’ body sculpting concept which depicts strong contrasts through the dynamic, tensional, yet edgy surface.

Dual Personality

Taking the high-tech simplicity – two apparent contradictions – of a racing bicycle as inspiration, the concept features a carbon frame over which expressive body panels are placed, like armoured cladding.

Exposed carbon elements spear through the design, accentuating features such as the boomerang-shape given to the leading edge of the front door structure. Gripz has four doors – with deep dihedral front doors that swing out and up when opened, and a pair of rear-hinged half-doors behind. There is no B-pillar, allowing easy access to the 2+2 interior.

The front end is dominated by Nissan’s V-motion grille, mounted low and

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Boomerang-shaped running lights sit above the lamps, on top of the front fenders and denote the demarcation line between the matt-black bonnet and the red-orange main body colour.

More matt-black can be found on the extended wheel arches, the pinched and indented triangular sill – raised to increase ground clearance – and the A-pillar leading to the floating roof. The roof features a central glazed panel with bullet grey-coloured composite panels on either side over the seating areas.

These reduce in width as they flow towards the rear of the car and blend into the rear lamps, which mirror the boomerang shape of the front running lights and wrap themselves around the rear three quarters of the car.

At the rear, a dramatic truncated matt-black Kamm tail gives the concept a ‘codatronca’ effect while beneath the tailgate sits a pair of chromed trapezoidal exhaust pipes.

The three-spoke 22-inch wheels are also inspired by racing bicycles - lightweight yet strong wearing comparatively thin high-pressure tyres, especially constructed for the concept by Bridgestone. Red and white graphics found on the sidewalls are replicated on the car’s steering wheel.

While the exterior was created in Europe, a dedicated team based in Japan designed the interior. Like the exterior, functional simplicity is the key to the design.

Again featuring a mix of matt-grey and the deep red-orange colours, the interior underlines the car’s Tour de France inspiration with exposed tubes, moulded bucket seats and layered features echoing the cladding effect found on the exterior.

The seats and centre console are directly inspired by bicycles, as are the door pulls that are shaped like saddles from a racing bike. The three-spoke steering wheel, meanwhile, replicates the car’s road wheels, right down to the special graphics found on the tyre sidewalls.

2016 Nissan Gripz Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Like the Nissan Sway Concept and recent production cars, the Nissan Gripz Concept has a ‘Gliding Wing’instrument panel. This elegantly thin design combines strength with simplicity and perfectly echoes the ethos of the concept.

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