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The next-generation Nissan Z-car could well be a performance-oriented crossover vehicle, if reports out of England are to be believed.

An inside source has told Autocar that the new Nissan Z-car will be a small, sporty crossover vehicle around the size of current Juke.

While the Juke has been designed to fit four to five people in relative comfort, the new Z-branded vehicle will have a more coupe-like roofline that will significantly reduce headroom for the rear passengers. It’s not known, at this stage, whether the new Z will be a three-door, or a five-door with hidden rear door handles.

A number of design proposals are said to be on the table at the moment, with the most extreme of these expected to debut at this year’s Frankfurt motor show as a concept car.

The new Z-car will be underpinned by a version of front- and all-wheel drive CMF (common module family) platform that’s being progressively introduced on new Renault and Nissan vehicles, such as the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar.

Above: The current-generation Nissan 370Z Nismo.

According to the British magazine, the rationale behind moving the Z nameplate to a sporty crossover is that the market for small-ish sports cars, especially in keys markets, such as Japan and the USA, is shrinking by the day.

On the other hand, the global appetite for crossover vehicles seems to know no bounds and it’s hoped that the cachet of the Z brand will entice a new generation of buyers into the fold.

Nissan has also reportedly investigated making the next-generation Z a bigger, more powerful coupe, as well as shrinking it to be a smaller, four-cylinder vehicle similar in essence to the IDx concepts. The business cases for both of these scenarios, apparently, did not pass muster.

The current Z-car, the 370Z, is due to end production some time in 2017.