Nissan Gripz Hybrid Merges A Sports Car With A Crossover

The Nissan Gripz Hybrid concept may illustrate the next stage for the carmaker’s sporty crossover lineup.

This high-stanced concept looks a little like the big brother to the Juke – a model Nissan refers to as a “sport cross.” When Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn showed the Gripz Hybrid at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, he noted that there continues to be “tremendous opportunity” for growth in the crossover market.

“The Nissan Gripz concept series hybrid shows where we will be leading the crossover segment next,” he said. “And it sends a clear signal that we will not be complacent in this high-growth segment.”

For its Pure Drive e-power setup, the Gripz Concept borrowed the Nissan Leaf’s 80-kilowatt AC synchronous electric motor. But instead of functioning as a battery electric vehicle, like the Leaf, the Gripz Concept adds a gasoline engine into its powertrain, operating as a series plug-in hybrid.

Its styling was created as a throwback to the Nissan 240Z rally racer from the 1970s built to compete in the arduous terrain of the Baja Peninsula and Kenyan plains.

“The Nissan 240Zs were proof that sports cars didn’t have to be low to the ground to be fun,” said Nissan.

“The traditional two-seater sports car is evolving, and this is our interpretation of its future,” said Nissan’s Senior Creative Design Manager, Giovanny Arroba. The Gripz Concept “took what a traditional sports car is in your mind – long hood, fastback, quite sleek – but then it’s jacked up higher off the ground, has a different stance.”

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Other design elements for the Gripz Concept have been pulled from road bicycles, including the textured steering wheel, slotted seats and the narrow diamond-shaped center armrest. Even the pedals are reminiscent of those found on a bicycle.

In the front, Nissan mounted within the headlamps “forward-facing cameras that record every journey, just as a helmet-cam is used by cyclists. Using a live feed, adventures through great roads can be beamed around the world, allowing for friends to follow the car’s progress on their computer, tablet or smart phone in real time.”

Despite Ghosn’s comment that this vehicle will be assimilated into Nissan’s crossover lineup, it doesn’t appear that the Gripz Concept has been given guaranteed approval for production. Nissan previously remarked that the “Gripz Concept is seen as a design statement rather than a replacement for an existing model.”