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Frankfurt show: Nissan tightens Gripz

Grip strength: The chunky Gripz concept provides a glimpse at what future Nissan crossovers could look like, but the company said it is not a Juke of Qashqai replacement.

Nissan takes cover off its take on the future of crossovers with new Gripz


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16 Sep 2015

NISSAN has unveiled its Gripz compact crossover concept at the Frankfurt show, which harks back to its rallying days but with an electric drivetrain.

Covering a similar amount of road to the current Juke, which suggests it could be a look at the next generation of that model, while the styling cues that bear a strong resemblance to the Z sportscars had some media suggesting the high-riding sports concept was a 370Z replacement.

According to Nissan, the Gripz is its take on next-generation crossover design and the concept should be seen as a design statement rather than a replacement for an existing model.

Nissan calls the look of the Gripz (which wears design cues from the 370Z among others) ‘emotional geometry’ design language, bearing some similarities to the Sway concept from this year's Geneva motor show, while pointing to design and engineering possibilities of a future compact crossover.

Nissan senior vice president and chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura said the company, which he believes pioneered the compact crossover segment and dominates it with Qashqai and Juke, was showing its take on the segment’s future.

“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,” he said.

Nissan is claiming the Gripz has the abilities and practical nature of a traditional compact crossover with the excitement and performance of a sportscar, and is influenced by its desert rally cars and pedal-powered racers.

The company released a video with the details on its crossover concept, which showed the sports-coupe-bodied crossover tearing through vacant city streets as the streets were disrupted by jungle growth – accompanied by the tagline “pushing the city limits into the wild”.

Also part of the presentation was imagery of the brand’s Safari Rally-winning 240Z, which was beefed up and raised as part of Nissan’s off-road racing efforts in the 1970s the 240Zs of yesteryear had a matte-black finish for the bonnet and boot, with a red-orange body colour.

The similarly coloured Nissan concept is powered using 'Pure Drive e-Power’, an efficient petrol engine is used to power the electric motor taken from the Nissan Leaf, resulting in outputs of 80kW and 254Nm.

A collaboration between Nissan’s Design Europe staff in London (who penned the Juke and Qashqai) and the Nissan Global Design Centre in Japan, the concept features a carbon frame over which body panels are placed, that Nissan likened to armoured cladding.

The four-seater’s cabin continues the lightweight, bare-bones carbon theme, dwelling somewhere between a Tour De France bicycle and the stripped-out rally cars.

The concept has four doors – dihedral front doors that swing out and up and rear-hinged half-doors for the rear occupants, with access unimpeded thanks to the lack of a B-pillar.

Among the car’s quirks are forward-facing cameras mounted within the headlights, allowing every journey to be recorded in a manner similar to how helmet cameras or GoPros are used by rally drivers.

The Gripz adds the abilities to “live stream” the journey, which Nissan boasts “special trips along great roads can be beamed around the world, allowing friends to follow the car's progress on their computer, tablet or smart phone in real time,” although there’s no mention of law enforcement viewing.

The high-riding sports crossover rides on three-spoke 22-inch wheels, again taking inspiration from racing bicycles, wrapped in thin high-pressure Bridgestone tyres.

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