As formerly affordable sports cars like the Ford Mustang and Nissan Z move further and further up the market, younger buyers are being left behind. In an interview with Top Gear, Nissan senior vice president of global product planning Ivan Espinosa suggests that the solution is to sell those consumers a performance car they can actually afford.
While Nissan currently sells two sports cars, the brand has struggled to give its dealers a car competitive with the sports cars aimed at young buyers built by competitors. The Toyota GR86 starts at $28,400, the ND-generation Mazda MX-5 starts at $28,050, and the Subaru BRZ starts at $31,315 even after a recent price increase. Nissan's most affordable Z starts at $42,210 and its GT-R enters at $120,990. Those prices get out of hand quickly with Nismo variants: The Nismo Z starts at $66,065 and the Nismo GT-R begins at $220,990.
Rather than bringing the Z or the GT-R back down to a lower price point, getting young enthusiasts into a fun Nissan would mean bringing another car into the lineup. While he was not specific on whether or not a plan was actually in place to build such a car, Espinosa told Top Gear that this could be a "smaller, a bit more affordable" electric sports car. That, like the Z and GT-R, could also get a Nismo variant of its own and provide a sort of ladder for "an early 20s kind of customer that's passionate about cars" to gradually build into the existing Nissan performance ecosystem.
Nissan last experimented with the idea of an entry-level sports car when it showed the Datsun 510-inspired IDx concept a decade ago. While that rear-wheel drive concept never made it to production, a recent wave of nostalgia-inducing electrified performance cars shown at the Japan Mobility Show could indicate a path forward for an affordable car designed to excite younger buyers with both a fondness for fast Nissans of the past and an interest in electric performance.
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