2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO

File this one under the “take it with a pinch of salt” category, even though it comes from the esteemed pages of Autocar UK. The British publication reports that the iconic Nissan Z sports car will likely become – shock, horror – a crossover in its next iteration, with a design study set to be shown as early as the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

Nissan has reportedly been exploring a variety of options in replacing the six-year-old 370Z, including a more powerful variation of the same theme, as well as a cheaper, simpler Toyota 86-esque version – the latter was previewed by the iDx twin coupé concepts at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

It appears, however, that the Japanese brand has changed tack and has settled on an entirely new small crossover bodystyle for the next Z-car, which – as we see it – will only alienate the current faithful. But Nissan apparently believes such a move can still satisfy a large percentage of Z fans whilst broadening the brand to new buyers, given the cachet of the Z badge and the burgeoning crossover market.

Speaking about the need to create an entirely different car from the current 370Z, chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura said, “I feel Z needs more revolution than evolution. I think GT-R has to stay the most high-performance symbol of Nissan technology and Z is a more affordable sports car or a sporty car to get the younger people.”

Senior vice president Trevor Mann agrees: “We do know that Z, as a sub-brand if you like, has high equity. The market is not like it used to be, though, so I think that if you do something, you’ll need to do something which is quite special, to attract the segment.”

If it does indeed come to fruition, a Z crossover would be based on the new Renault-Nissan CMF-B platform that will also underpin the next March and Juke. It would also feature a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine and will be priced significantly lower than the 370Z, with top-of-the-line models retailing around the same ballpark as lower-end variants of the Qashqai/X-Trail. Such a car is expected to come to market within the next 18 months.

The modular architecture was developed with hybrid propulsion in mind, so the Z could incorporate such a setup, utilising an electric motor to drive one of the axles. The magazine believes that this could give some of the capabilities of the GT-R – which delivers astounding performance through a rear-biased four-wheel drive system – while also providing the possibility of some zero-emissions travel.

Coming off the continued success of the Juke, Nissan is said to be aiming for the middle ground between customers who don’t need a large crossover like the Qashqai and X-Trail and those who believe the Juke is too quirky or not sporty enough. It will also provide a vehicle for in-house tuning brand Nismo to expand beyond its current scope. So, what do you guys think of a potential Z crossover – a disaster in the making, or perhaps a runaway success?