Home » Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether They Could, They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should: Nissan Z Becomes A Crossover

Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether They Could, They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should: Nissan Z Becomes A Crossover

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We love the new Nissan Z, don’t we, folks? It’s the beautiful go-fast Z sports car of our dreams, packed with Millennial-baiting Z32 nostalgic style and the twin-turbo V6 engine it probably should’ve gotten five or six years ago. It is a dynamic coupe packed with driving enjoyment and the good noises. So why did a bunch of Japanese students turn the gorgeous Z into a crossover?

Chaos. Pure chaos. That is all I can assume here. And while I appreciate their industrious effort, I fear greatly that this design will give Nissan some ideas that we aren’t prepared to deal with.


Meet the Nissan Fairlady X. Don’t freak out, it’s not a production car—yet. As spotted by CarScoops, it’s a one-off development from the students at Nissan Automobile Technical College (aka Nissan Gakuen) that will be shown at next month’s 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon. That’s a kind of Japanese SEMA, complete with the manufacturer and tuner shop participation, and it’s not uncommon to see some wild builds there.

But I don’t know how people will react to turning the lovely new Z into a crossover. And there’s even more potentially upsetting news: the body’s based on a Murano, not a Z. Sorry to be the one to break this to you. I’ll be here if you need to take a moment to gather yourself.

“Based on Nissan Murano! Fairlady X, the SUV version of the new Fairlady Z (RZ34), will be exhibited at Tokyo Auto Salon 2023! The body color is Z432R style extreme orange x black 2 tone,” the tweet below reads, according to a quick Google Chrome translation.


CarScoops says the Fairlady X boasts the front end, rear taillights and some interior parts from a standard Z, including the steering wheel. But it’s unclear if the Z’s delightful new 400 horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 made the transition or not. We do know it has an automatic transmission, not the six-speed manual in the new Z.

Also, I can’t say anything negative here about the work these students did—that would feel like punching down, and the craftsmanship here is clearly impressive. They did one hell of a job tearing it down, too, which you can see in this video below.

But saying “Dear God, please don’t make the Z into a crossover” is a perfectly natural reaction to have here. I hope these kids, talented as they are, don’t give Nissan ideas. The Ford Mustang Mach-E was enough of a shock to our collective systems (and even that took a while to really prove itself.) We don’t need this thing, too. There’s just too much going on right now! It’s a lot to deal with.

Granted, Nissan’s kind of flirted with the idea of a Z crossover before. Remember the Gripz concept from a few years ago? At the time, a lot of folks thought that could turn into the next Z, or something like it; then as now, the pure sports car market hit the skids pretty hard, so many industry-watchers felt it was plausible for the Z to become a volume-selling people-mover in order to survive at all. Thankfully, that never happened. (I should also bring up the Infiniti FX crossover, which had the same platform and VQ V6 engine as the last Z, so it was awfully similar; but that was more like a Z crossover in a business suit, and it was actually a pretty decent performer.)

So good on these Nissan students and their very cool build! I just need it to stay in the ideas phase, please. If not, at least make it rear-wheel-drive. Can you at least do that for us, Nissan?

Also, it looks like the kids might be up to something else, too. Maybe something involving an old Fairlady Roadster, and a March? Unclear, but we should find out soon. I hope you kids know what you’re doing!

Images: Nissan Gakuen

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54 Responses

  1. First Gen-Z rolls their eyes at me for wearing skinny jeans.
    Then they try to bring back the fanny pack.
    Then they take the terrible clothing I wore in the 90’s and bring THAT back.
    THEN they invent new words that I DON’T UNDERSTAND and they’re probably talking shit about me on the TicTacs.
    NOW they take the Z – something Millenials and GenX-ers cherish – and turn it into a GODDAMN crossover???
    No. NO. BAD GEN-Z.

    (While this is atrocious, I’m actually not trying to start a generational war. You GenZ folks do you; it ain’t my world anymore).

    1. Just want to add as a Gen Z’er not all of us want this, I love the new Z and I think the it makes a really ugly looking crossover. Not only that but the whole trend sucks, I’m all for wagons and minivans > blobby generic crossovers.

      1. You Gen Z’ers are fine. It’s us millenials that are the problem. We’re fucking boomers who didn’t accomplish as much in our youths. And now we don’t even know how to appreciate a decent vehicle.

  2. I’ve been thinking about how companies are using names formerly reserved for models and creating sub-lines from them: Mustang, Eclipse, Corvette (okay that one wasn’t real, but the article was fun). Personally, I don’t understand why it’s necessary, Ford is a pretty well respected company, it’s not like they couldn’t sell an EV if it weren’t called a Mustang. Mitsubishi less so, but the Montero name is well-liked and would’ve made a more logical crossover. Is the Z so iconic to Nissan that they’d do something like this to save their company? Nevermind the styling, who really wants a “Murano”? Call it a “Fairlady X” and you might sell a few. Electrify it, and the Tesla X market might buy some by accident. If it keeps the Z in Nissan’s portfolio, let ’em make a crossover for the masses.

    1. Interestingly, now that you mention the possibility of Mitsu using the Montero name on what eventually became the Eclipse Cross, that makes it less distasteful. At least they’re replacing one overweight FWD 3-door hatch with another overweight FWD 5-door hatch. The Montero was always an RWD based BOF beast.

      400ZX? If Nissan revived the FX and styled it like a Z and called it 400ZX it might not be so bad.

      1. 400ZX! That’d be the way to do it. I don’t see the new Z standing alone long enough to become an icon, and a crossover buys a lot of brand recognition. Tune it a little so it handles better (for an SUV) and compromising husbands feel part of the Z family. Make it a PHEV and everybody wins. Anyone at Nissan want to sell some cars?

  3. In fear of rehashing what thirty-dozen other right-thinking Autopians have surely posted, I deeply resent the Rise of the Crossover, I resent even more deeply the eager willingness of many manufacturers to cater to that need, and I resent with a depth that rivals the Mariana Trench that some of these crossovers bear the names of aggressive sports cars.

    There’s a language and symbolism that goes with sports cars. Porsche make curvy, sleek-looking cars that look a certain way. The Mustang is a boxy, muscley car that promises a lot of power in an economical package. Lamborghinis are ridiculous, ridiculously powerful cars that are low-slung and exotic looking.

    All of them, and many more, have gone on to make crossovers. At best, a crossover looks like a nice car that got overinflated. They’re big, pillowy, rounded-off safe boxes. I like a car that’s low, rakish, and agile, and now these guys in their high-beltline, cushiony fortresses have the nerve to come up to me and say, “Look! I’m just like you! I have a sportymacar!”

    I live in a neighbourhood that’s being gentrified. “Here comes the neighbourhood,” my wife will snark at me (with my full agreement). The local groceries are getting rid of the interesting ingredients for bland things that sell better. The local restaurants have steadily taken off the best and weirdest entries for progressively blander, but more popular fare.

    The same here with cars. I struggle to distinguish crossovers from each other, and the very traits I like in cars are progressively being replaced with high belt lines, higher centers of mass, and safe-looking designs.

    But mainly, and I’ll admit it, this is about me and my fragile ego. How I’ve tied a portion of my identity into an elitist, entitled love of dangerous cars. I guess this has been a confessional. I feel a tiny bit better, though I’m also sorry you had to read all this.

    1. What is sport? What was sport?

      The fat kid who couldn’t get to the end of the race still gets a trophy now so they can feel proud of themselves as an athlete. So why shouldn’t we call a Suburban a Corvette?

    2. Ultimately tho… it’s just the proportions. They’re bad. They’re not attractive. The creases and surfacing and details attempt to distract you from poor proportions. If they can make them more fun to drive… idk… I mean, I think I’d rather drive this than most faux-road SUVs.

      1. Safer vehicles ironically lead to more dangerous driving. Bigger vehicles transfer the risk of bad driving to everybody else. And in fear of veering off topic, I reallllly gotta stop there, except for this: I’ve binned crossovers with SUVs.

  4. I cant believe how much effort they put into this. It looks so normal it could have rolled out of a factory.
    Normal is hard to do!
    But that ends any compliments i can give. While it’s an ok looking crossover ,they ruined a really pretty car to do it.

  5. VBL/Visual Brand Language is a weird thing. As designer, once you’ve spent some time with a certain brand’s forms/elements/details, you can apply those things to almost any proportion, and if done correctly, it will still be identified as something from that brand.

    I personally don’t like crossovers but now that Porsche, Lambo, and Ferrari have giant expensive egg shaped 4 doors, why can’t there be cheap sporty cars of the same shape from every manufacturer? Obviously they’d have to get the drivetrain to be a bit more fun than a Murano, but in terms of handling I bet it could be made to hustle okay. So much of the time, the target market for crossovers is family hauling and comfort, and if you want to tweak settings to be sportier, it’s not exactly rocket science. All the manufacturers know how to do that, they’re just not doing that on their people haulers because the target market values comfort over performance.

    I’ve said for a long time it’s stupid we never got any SRT-branded minvans, or Dodge Caravan R/Ts. Those were great concepts, and they check a lot of boxes if you have a family, or you’re a more active person. The cargo areas of modern minivans are INSANE compared to most SUVs, throwing mountain bikes and camping equipment in them is awesome. It’s the suspension tuning, brakes, and drivetrain that are usually so abysmal. If we can’t have sporty/aggressive minivans, I guess I’m fine with some more attainable sporty/aggressive crossovers.

  6. Of course they’ve got to name it “Fairlady X” a la the “Eclipse Cross.” I TOLD YOU WERE GOING TO MESS UP THE ENTIRE FABRIC OF REALITY, MITSUBISHI.

    That is not an Eclipse, and this is not a Fairlady.

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