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Detroit show: Nissan previews next Maxima

Maximum effort: Nissan's Maxima will look much like this Sport Sedan Concept when it goes into production in early 2015, and in right-hand drive too.

Racier future for next-generation Nissan Maxima as Sport Sedan Concept hits Detroit

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Nissan logo14 Jan 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

THERE is no mention of Maxima among the official literature accompanying Nissan’s Sport Sedan Concept at the Detroit motor show, but the vehicle is a clear precursor to the Japanese brand’s next-generation large sedan slated for production late next year.

As teaser images released ahead of the show indicated, the four-door sedan concept emphasises a sportier, more sculptural future for Nissan’s large car, which is said to embody a number of new design cues for the brand including a ‘V-Motion’ front aspect, ‘floating’ roof and large, boomerang-shaped LED headlights.

The latter naturally steers us towards its potential for the Australian marketplace, however Nissan is still to confirm whether the next-generation Maxima will come here as the large-car segment continues to contract.

The current model was discontinued last year ahead of the launch of the mid-size Altima, and although the latter is fighting the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon on the V8 Supercars circuit, the company was careful not to describe it as a direct replacement for Maxima.

Enter the long, wide, low Sport Sedan Concept. If its sportiness and sex appeal makes the transition to production, the concept could have enough for Nissan to return to the Australian large-car arena to challenge forthcoming new rivals such as the Hyundai Genesis – and as the two remaining local heroes, the rear-drive Commodore and Falcon, prepare for retirement in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

While there will be no replacement for Falcon, Commodore could live on as a fully imported model, albeit one that is likely to be built off a global front-wheel-drive platform.

In revealing the front-drive sports sedan in Detroit this week, Nissan senior vice-president and chief planning officer Andy Palmer said the concept showed “a new, highly emotional and energetic design direction that takes Nissan’s legendary approach of applying sportscar principles to a sedan to the next level”.

The tale of the tape places the concept comfortably above the Altima, with length stretching to 4870mm, a width of 1912mm and a height of 1378mm, while the wheelbase measures 2825mm.

Power comes from 224kW-plus 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, driving the custom 21-inch alloy wheels – shod with low-profile 275/30-section tyres – thorough a ‘sport-tuned’ Xtronic continuously variable transmission.

Nissan says the concept also features an “innovative suspension layout” with performance dampers, but is short on detail here.

As with the exterior, the cabin is said to offer cues to future production designs, particularly with its use of premium materials and diamond-shaped graphics on the quilted seats, stitching and panels “enhancing the sense of dynamic motion”.

The concept was created by Nissan’s Design America studio in San Diego, California, and was developed at its global design centre in Atsugi, Japan.

Chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura said the new design direction “mirrors the strength, power and capabilities of the engineering and innovation that serves as the foundation of every Nissan vehicle”.

“Nissan is a brand for people seeking bold and passionate experiences, and who are willing to make choices outside of traditional boundaries,” he said.

“That’s why Nissan is committed to breaking new ground in automotive design, as expressed in the stunning new Sport Sedan Concept.”

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