Nissan Gripz concept

Nissan pulled the wraps off of its Gripz concept this week at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Believe it or not, this compact crossover pays homage to Nissan's 1971 Safari Rally-winning Nissan 240Z.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The concept stretches the limits of the automaker's current design language with boomerang-shaped headlamps, the "V-Motion" grille and other angular elements.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Like the Juke and Qashqui crossovers, the Gripz blends a coupe-like profile with the elevated ground clearance of an SUV.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The chassis is composed of carbon fiber, upon which Nissan has laid a body of lightweight composite.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nissan says that the conceptual powertrain beneath the skin is a "Pure Drive e-Power" setup.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The wheels are driven by an electric motor that is identical to that of the Nissan Leaf EV.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The motor puts a stated 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque to the wheels via a single-speed transmission.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The automaker says that "an efficient petrol engine" is used to power the electric motor (much like the Chevrolet Voltec powertrain), but did not state the specs of this generator.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

A motor identical to that of the Nissan Leaf seems to indicate that the Gripz is most likely only two-wheel drive. Its sporty character and Z-car heritage lean toward rear-wheel drive.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The front doors swing up and away from the rear-hinged back doors to reveal a massive, pillar-less portal into the cabin.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The compact concept has space for four in its sparse cabin.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed to see Nissan exploring a compact crossover inspired by the Z when the actual production Z languishes without major updates for another year.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nissan says that the concept combines "the stripped-back lightness of a Tour de France road-racing bicycle with the strength of a rally car." I suppose that both of those things have wheels? I'm not seeing the connection.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nissan's style still rubs me the wrong way, but Gripz's promise to blend the handling of the Juke and the Leaf's electric torque with a lightweight chassis seems promising.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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