At the end of the day, business is business.
The reveal of the Nissan Z Proto earlier this month was exactly the type of publicity the Japanese automaker needs right now. Nissan has been experiencing some serious financial issues and it's re-focusing efforts on getting new and exciting products for North America. The all-electric Nissan Ariya SUV will play a major role in that and, hopefully in the near future, a production-spec version of the Z Proto. Looking at the concept, it wouldn't take much to make it production-ready. In the meantime, Nissan is very much enjoying the positive response the Z Proto has been receiving and it's now considering a certain other body style option that's immensely popular these days.
Speaking to Australia's CarAdvice, Nissan's Senior Vice President for Global Product Planning, Ivan Espinosa, admitted there's been internal discussions about a possible Z SUV.
"There's always temptation, we're always exploring these things," he said. "The strength of Z - the brand - is so big, that it could potentially allow some wild things." He didn't elaborate further, but one other critical thing was made clear: a potential Z SUV would not offer the same level of driving experience as a sports car.
"Z is about connecting with the car you're driving. So [to get] the real sports car experience, you need the low driving position," he said. "You can still deliver a very exciting experience [in an SUV], but it will never be physically possible to deliver the same experience as if you were sitting as low as you were sitting in the Z coupe."
If Nissan were to proceed with this plan, it's important to know a Z SUV would definitely not share a platform with the coupe. Why? Because the Z Proto (and upcoming 400Z) rides on a heavily modified and updated version of the outgoing Nissan 370Z platform. This setup was never engineered to be turned into an SUV. However, Nissan still has plenty of other more modern platforms to select from. The automaker also has grand plans for its new CMF-EV platform, developed jointly with alliance partner Renault.
At present, it underpins the Ariya only, but we wouldn't automatically reject the idea of using it as the basis for a performance SUV as well, with or without the Z branding.