Photo: The Nissan Gripz Concept, which wouldn’t look half bad if it lost the corporate grille and wasn’t a lifted crossover. Photo: Nissan (Nissan)

Times are tough for the sports cars. We know that. As sedans and SUVs and trucks have become faster and more powerful, the buying public has shifted away from dedicated two-seaters, convertibles and coupes. So to make the economics work, automakers are looking toward joint ventures, like Toyota and BMW did with the new Toyota Supra and Z4. Here’s a wild idea: what if the next Nissan Z gets built with help from Mercedes-Benz?

As first noticed by our friends at Japanese Nostalgic Car, that’s the word out of Japanese magazine Response. Their story claims that Nissan was actually inspired by the Toyota-BMW joint venture, and as such it’s turning to its existing partners at Daimler for help with the next iteration of the sports car. Here’s more, and pardon the clunky Google translation:

SUPRA was co-developed with BMW and became a topic, but Fairlady Z was developed with the cooperation of Daimler Z, and it is rumored to share the platform with Mercedes-Benz vehicles. In addition, the powertrain is expected to be equipped with a 2-liter inline 4-cylinder turbo engine made by Mercedes Benz. However, the top model is likely to be equipped with the 3 liter V-6 twin turbo engine installed in Infiniti “Q 60" (Skyline), and a hybrid model is supposed to be assumed.

As you may know, Nissan and Mercedes already cooperate on several platforms and engines. Infiniti’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine is a Mercedes motor, and the Infiniti QX30 small crossover is a re-skinned Mercedes GLA. The partnership’s already there, so in some ways this makes sense, and it’s also hard to imagine currently beige-tastic Nissan wanting to invest too much in a rear-wheel drive platform. The FM platform the Q50, 370Z and a bunch of other cars use is getting mighty old, too.

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But! Swallow a gallon of salt for this one, as JNC notes. The Japanese rumor mill press is “like 1990s Motor Trend on crack”, they say, and I’m quoting them because I could not have put that better myself. So this could be based on a good source or some total bullshit.

Let’s also be clear that we’ve heard zilch about the next Z. No development plans, no vague allusions to it in executive interviews, no camo’d spy shots, no mules running around—no nothing.

Whatever Nissan ends up doing, I hope the next Z becomes a reality somehow—even if it has some Mercedes guts, the world is better with a Z in it. Maybe it could even pack Mercedes’ new inline-six, like the good old days.