Will Nissan Make A Proto Z SUV?

Another day, another rumor. This rumor has already been applied to Corvette, Camaro, and even a Dodge Challenger after the apparent success of the Mustang Mach-E SUV. Do you remember that Ford reveal from a few months ago? The Mach-E is still a few months off but already we have been distracted by other releases like the Bronco, Proto Z, and GM’s upcoming Hummer reboot. So, some in the media are asking will Nissan make a Proto Z SUV? 

The Proto Z has given Nissan some much-needed hype

Nissan needs a winner quickly. It is short on cash and marketing opportunities while it catches up replacing aged vehicles. The Proto Z has given Nissan some much-needed hype. It is still a ways away from production, it is following the pandemic trend of revealing far-off products to get pre-orders and some cheap buzz. 

Some veiled comments from Nissan Senior Vice President of Global Product Planning Ivan Espinosa to CarAdvice have caught internet fire. He said that Nissan is exploring what a Z SUV might be like. “There’s always the 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.”

There were rumors before the Proto Z was revealed that the next Z would be a lifted Subaru Outback-like vehicle. Maybe the basis for that was the sight of a Z-SUV-like vehicle somebody saw in Yokohama? Or maybe it is because one is under development.

“Z is about connecting with the car you’re driving”

Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/104432771/Nissan-400Z-Sedan

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“Z is about connecting with the car you’re driving. So the real sports car experience, you need the low driving position,” Espinosa says. “You can still deliver a very exciting experience, 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.”

But that misses the point. Nobody is looking for an SUV to handle or feel like a sports car. The point of the Mustang Mach-E was an EV variation of an SUV crossover with the identity of a Mustang. The popularity of the Mustang throughout generations was thought to help propel Ford’s electric EV SUV. 

It would be the same motivation for doing a Z SUV. Some of the character and intrinsic value being transferred to a more stilted SUV. Having Proto Z cues would juice up a Z SUV and also give it some marketing gravitas. We think that Espinosa knows that and is being coy-or something. 

Nissan already has a brand from the past to propel a new SUV

A grey Nissan Xterra off-roading in the desert.
2015 Xterra | Nissan

Nissan already has an SUV brand from the past that could help propel a new SUV; Xterra. It had a great reputation for being a smaller SUV with some youth appeal. If Nissan is interested in having a backstory for a new, smaller SUV reviving the Xterra name would be a possible approach. It wouldn’t have Proto Z styling cues but maybe it wouldn’t need it to succeed.  

So, this can be your latest rumor of the week. A Proto Z SUV. If it sounds like a good idea then you might want to make your interest known at Nissan. We know a full-size Armada SUV is on the horizon. Nissan needs something to slot below that. Maybe the Proto Z SUV makes sense?