I held off on reporting this batshit crazy rumor from the UK’s Autocar, mainly because it seemed way too out of left field to possibly be true and also because I don’t want it to be true. But now that Nissan has released this shadowy teaser image, I think I have to take us to a potentially uncomfortable place.

So the rumor from that publication is that Nissan’s next Z-car — since the Datsun 510-inspired IDx is dead as a doornail — will not be a pure sports car at all, but rather “a small sports crossover.”

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Ugh, yeah. If this is true, and that’s a huge, huge IF, then this is less-than-pleasant news for sports car fans everywhere.

But the sports car market is shrinking and the global small crossover market is blowing up, so from a sales perspective, it makes a ton of sense. And Nissan has said it’s very unlikely the next Z will keep growing in engine displacement like the modern ones did. Plus, a Z crossover could potentially bring in those coveted, coveted youths. From Autocar:

In a clear reference to a switch of vehicle type, Nakamura added: “We need to take another path. 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.”

Nissan executive vice-president Trevor Mann has supported Nakamura’s view. He told Autocar: “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.”

Could this crossover teased here before the Frankfurt Auto Show really be the next Z? Right now, no one has a clue. Here is all Nissan will say about it:

Nissan pioneered the crossover sector with its amazingly successful JUKE, Qashqai and X-Trail ranges in Europe. With a combination of rugged 4x4 looks, hatchback running costs, luxury car rivaling technology and quality, more than 2.5 million have been sold across Europe.

So can Nissan continue to innovate and move the bar higher? What if Nissan created a new way to feel driving excitement? The answer will come at the Frankfurt motor show.

Autocar notes that the teased concept (lightened version below) bears a resemblance to the 240Z that won the East African Safari Rally back in 1971, but it’s also black and red, so that could just be a coincidence. It’s also possible Nissan is expanding the Z line to an entire family of vehicles, including a crossover, like Audi was said to be doing with the TT. Or maybe it’s just the next Juke, who knows?

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I really don’t want this to happen, can you tell? I guess we’ll see what Nissan has in store at Frankfurt.


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.