The Nissan Sports Sedan Concept unveiled at the recent Detroit auto show is a preview for the next Maxima, a moniker which started life as the four door sports car (4DSC) in the US market many moons ago. Attempting to visually convey spirited driving dynamics, the concept also pushes forward the flowing form language first seen on the Resonance concept at the show last year.
Designed at Nissan Design America (NDA) San Diego, California — the same team responsible for the Resonance — and developed at the Nissan Global Design Center in Atsugi, Japan, the Sports Sedan is the third concept to feature new design aspects that will become signature elements on all future Nissans.
Unfortunately Nissan’s show stand told a different story. The Sport Sedan Concept shared the spotlight with the first North American appearance of the IDx Freeflow and IDx Nismo concepts. But as the two design directions are so radically different, they clashed on the show stand.
The only visual consistency between the historical referencing IDx and the Sport Sedan are the kicked up C-pillar and ‘floating’ roof element, which is on par with current design trends. Seeing the two different design directions depicted in the IDx and Sport Sedan makes it unclear as to which character and identity Nissan is striving for. As the company celebrates its 80th anniversary, it’s about time they pick one and go with it.
As much as we love the IDx, the Sport Sedan Concept is arguably a more modern design direction. The ‘V-motion’ front aspect, floating roof and boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights seen on the EyesOn Design award-winning Resonance and the Friend-Me that made its debut at Auto China 2013 in Shanghai seem to signal this future path, demonstrating how Nissan will incorporate the design cues across its range.
Indeed, Nissan Senior VP and Chief Creative Officer, Shiro Nakamura, called the Sport Sedan “much more than a concept, but a statement for the future design direction for all Nissan sedans”. Nakamura says that the concept’s emotional and energetic design will take the brand’s approach of applying sports car principles to a sedan to the next level.
Measuring in at 4870mm in length, 1912mm wide and 1378mm tall, the Sport Sedan Concept’s exterior design is marked by low, wide proportions and flowing surfaces. Large LED boomerang headlights adorn the front end and reinforce its dynamic presence, while the ‘V-motion’ grille shape leads the eye over its lowered hood line onto the ‘Strad Amber’-colored bodysides.
The color was apparently inspired by the craftsmanship and finish of classic violins — a nod to Nakamura’s love of classical music and Jazz — and was achieved through application of an orange-amber topcoat over a base of gold paint, creating a distinctive depth and richness.
The Sport Sedan’s dramatic bodyside surfaces give the design a strong sculptural feel, while the light catcher element between the long, 2825mm wheelbase serves to detract visual weight from the substantial lower body. The sculptured surfaces combine with the shallow, chrome underlined DLO and the ‘floating’ roof — above the blacked out pillars — to add a sense lightness, drawing the eye down towards the 21-inch wheels shod with low-profile 275/30R21 tires.
“The innovative roofline, which is also prevalent on Resonance and Friend-Me, makes it seem as if there are no pillars at all, enhancing the sense of athleticism and sportiness,” said Nakamura.
Capped by a chrome-accented decklid flanked by boomerang-syle rear lamps, the rear end design accentuate the vehicle’s width, while a generous track with wheels pushed outward to the edges give it a powerful, planted stance.
The design is a more flamboyant take on the Resonance show car’s aesthetic but no less successful.
Inside, the Sport Sedan Concept’s interior also offers cues to future production designs. Premium materials are found throughout, with the use of diamond-shaped graphics on the quilted seats, stitching and panels enhancing the sense of dynamic motion. The diamond treatment — inspired by modern furniture, apparel and accessories — adds a geometric three-dimensionality to what would otherwise be flat surfaces.
The interior also features high-contrast colors and facet metallic accents. All these aspects are meant to express Nissan’s individual authenticity and modernity.
Though competition for the spotlight was fierce at this year’s NAIAS, the Sports Sedan concept was very well received. But we can’t get the image of the IDx, a stark contrast in form and intent, out of our minds.