Created at Nissan’s design studio in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan, the Sway hatchback concept shows Nissan’s design language as applied to a compact B-segment vehicle. And it’s a very successful interpretation.
“Currently we’ve established a very strong design direction in the crossover segment, like the Juke, new Qashqai and the new X-Trail,” says Mamoru Aoki, executive design director for Nissan’s global design strategy department. “Those cars have a very good reputation and a strong presence. We want to utilize that asset and our experience in the hatchback segment as well.”
The Sway has a very modern appeal, harnessing Nissan’s new design language seen on the new Maxima and Murano production cars. The V-motion front grille, boomerang headlamps and tail lamps, floating roof, kick-up C-post and the bodyside lines are all design elements reinterpreted on the new smaller vehicle and to great success.
The strongest part of the exterior design is arguably the front, which has a similar feel to the new Murano. Here, however, the V-motion grille is pushed down far to the bottom of the front end, unlike that of the Murano. It makes for a very strong and sporty appearance.
The grille, long headlamps that stretch over more than half of the front fender surface, and a deeply sculptured hood combine to form a very powerful DRG that stands out from other competitors in this segment. There is a clear consistency and harmony in the different elements, which combine to create a very strong front end identity.
The bodyside has a sculptural quality below the shoulder line and through the rear door in particular. This area showcases the strong contrast between the concept’s sharp lines and full surfaces.
“Murano also has a very long iconic line,” Aoki says of the Sway’s profile. “[It serves] to [visually] make the front overhang look very short.”
I’ve always believed that consistency has a place in good design. That not only means having a harmonious flow of lines that connect separate elements, but also in color application. To that end, Nissan designers have ensured that the brake calipers and lightcatcher are adorned in the same color, as are the surrounding elements below the front air vents and on the roof. The consistency of this color treatment gives the entire design an undertone of sportiness and sophistication, which is also communicated in the interior.
The compact car, billed as a replacement for the Micra, measures 4010mm long, 1780mm wide and 1385mm tall, with a wheelbase spanning 2570mm. This makes the Sway 230mm longer, 115mm wider but 130mm shorter than the Micra. Its 120mm longer wheelbase also allows for a larger interior.
The cabin is finished in blue and white with a very technical-looking IP. The concept borrows the steering wheel and simple, back-to-basics character of the (superb) retro-inspired IDx concept shown at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, albeit with a large screen at the center, a high center tunnel and a very short shifter.
“We wanted to make the interior very simple,” says Aoki. “We believed that materials, quality and comfort were of primary importance in conveying a strong design theme. Of course, you need a very roomy space, so for that we pushed for a very thin and squashed dashboard to make the interior very roomy. Also visually, the thin dashboard makes the interior look very wide.”
The interior was therefore designed to communicate a sense of space and lightness as well as athleticism and agility. The high center console is meant to exude quality whilst delivering a sporty and agile expression, mimicking the exterior design, while the horizontal nature of the IP and the glass roof above gives the car a very airy and spacious feel.
“In the interior we need some parts to show a very athletic and sporty so we used the console theme to show the sportiness, without losing the roomy feel,” says Aoki. “Another important point for the interior is what we call ‘smart grouping’. The parts are divided into three pieces, the meter, HVAC and the navigation. The customer can very easily and quickly understand the functions.”
The HVAC is entirely separate from the large, 12-inch center touchscreen, which is itself a unique trapezoid shape, not a square as typically found in some lower range cars. The frame is also very thin, which Aoki says is a new approach to embedded technology within Nissan’s future interiors.
The Sway is a very sporty proposition for the B segment, which is one of the most competitive vehicle segments in Europe. Though still technically a concept, it is also very close to production reality. When it launches in production guise it will undoubtedly become a worthy contender as an alternative to the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Volkswagen Polo and Peugeot 208.