If this year’s Tokyo motor show taught us anything, it’s that Japanese carmakers are still very enthusiastic about sports cars.
That includes Nissan, which previewed a potential electric GT-R successor with the Hyper Force concept, and is now making noises about wanting a more affordable electric sports car.
Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global product planning, told Top Gear he wants a small, electric sports car to slot in under the Z and GT-R which, like those models, would offer a hot Nismo variant.
His remarks suggest the company is looking at a coupe or convertible, not a hatchback – so think a spiritual successor to the 200SX, perhaps, rather than a modern-day Pulsar GTi-R.
“I’m not sure about a hot hatch, but maybe a smaller electric sportscar you could think of. Something smaller, a bit more affordable. Definitely,” said Mr Espinosa.
“Depending on which point in time you take, we’ve always had the GT-R, we’ve always had Z, and we’ve always had an entry [level car] – either a hot hatch like Pulsar, or something else down there [at that price and performance point].
“And this today is something that we kind of miss. This [price and performance] point.”
He indicated an entry-level sports car like this would show Nissan is still passionate about performance.
“I think car manufacturers – in general – have forgotten about the passion for cars,” said Mr Espinosa.
“It depends on the country, but you can see that young customers are less and less attracted to cars.”
This new model, should it be approved, would be targeted directly at younger buyers, with Mr Espinosa calling it “a bit more of an entry point for younger buyers – an early 20s kind of customer that’s passionate about cars”.
That means not only engaging dynamics, but also thoroughly modern technology that would allow owners to connect to their friends and the community.
Nissan last previewed a modern-day 200SX/Silvia successor with the 2013 IDx Freeflow and Nismo concepts.
These were two different versions of a small, rear-wheel drive coupe to rival the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins that appeared to pay homage to the iconic Datsun 510/1600. Sadly, it never reached production.
Despite this, Nissan has a rich history of sporty vehicles at a lower price point than its Z.
That includes the rear-wheel drive Silvia, sold here as the 200SX and produced until 2002, as well as hot versions of the front-wheel drive Pulsar hatchback, including its EXA and NX coupe spinoffs.
Rival Japanese brands are also looking at affordable sports cars, as evidenced by what was on the Tokyo motor show floor.