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.
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 matte-black finish for the bonnet and trunk set against a deep red-orange body color.
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.
The Nissan Gripz Concept is equipped with an EV technology based Series hybrid system "Pure Drive e-Power." An efficient gasoline 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.
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 "emotional geometry" 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,"said Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president and chief creative officer, Nissan Motor Company, Ltd."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."
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.
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 armored 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 framed by rectangular lamps housing high and low beams.
Embedded in the lamps are 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.
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 color.
More matte-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-colored 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 matte-black Kamm tail gives the concept a "codatronca" effect, while beneath the tailgate sits a pair of chromed trapezoidal exhaust pipes.
Constructed for the concept by Bridgestone, three-spoke, 22-inch wheels are also inspired by racing bicycles – lightweight yet strong, wearing comparatively thin high-pressure tires. Red and white graphics 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 matte-grey and the deep red-orange colors, the interior underlines the car's Tour de France inspiration with exposed tubes, molded bucket seats and layered features echoing the cladding effect found on the exterior.
The seats and center 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 tire sidewalls.
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.
"What influence this Concept's design has on the next crossover generation from Nissan remains to be seen, though we are keen to gauge public reaction when it appears at the Frankfurt Show," said Nakamura.