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Tokyo show: Nissan rolls out its Land Glider

Glide path: Nissan's innovative Land Glider leans into corners, like a motorcycle.

Land Glider EV to headline Nissan’s Tokyo wares as Infiniti confirms its first hybrid

Nissan logo8 Oct 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

NISSAN became the final major Japanese car-maker to reveal its Tokyo motor show plans when it announced that its wares will be headlined by the debut of a quirky new zero-emissions mini-car dubbed the Land Glider.

While the ground-breaking Leaf electric vehicle (EV), Qazana compact crossover, flagship Fuga sedan and Roox city-car will also been shown at Tokyo on October 21, Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand today also confirmed production of its first petrol-electric vehicle in the M35 Hybrid.

Little information is forthcoming for the ultra-compact, narrow-bodied Land Glider concept, which Nissan describes as “a new proposal for urban mobility that can be enabled by zero-emission car”.

Most interestingly, the Land Glider has the ability to lean into corners motorcycle-style, in a similar way to previous four-wheeled BMW concepts.

12 center imageFrom top: Land Glider, Leaf EV, Roox mini-car, Fuga luxury sedan and Qazana SUV concept (bottom).

Designed to help reduce traffic congestion and promote effective use of parking space, Nissan says the Land Glider’s ability to shift its centre of gravity by tilting its two-seater cabin “provides a new, exciting sense of driving and a powerful, crisp ride”.

Apart from featuring a cocoon-like body inspired by the canopy of a glider, the ability of the Land Glider’s chassis and tyres to lean by up to 17 degrees is facilitated by sensors for vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw rate, which together are said to instantly calculate the level of lean required to negotiate a corner.

Designed to appeal to both car drivers and motorcycle riders, the Land Glider features an EV drive system based on that of the Leaf, comprising a lithium-ion battery beneath the floor, driving two rear electric motors.

“The exterior incorporates a soft, sleek-looking body that appears to be protected by a special armour,” said Nissan’s project design director Takashi Nakajima. “And while it is very mechanical in its nature, the four-wheeler boasts a dynamic body design that almost seems alive. As part of Nissan’s expanding zero-emission family, the Land Glider exudes a clean, friendly attitude.” More significantly, it is claimed the Land Glider – which is just 3100mm long, 1100mm wide and 1415mm high and rides on a 2180mm wheelbase – is not merely for show.

“Whilst Land Glider is a concept car created for the Tokyo motor show, it should not be regarded as a mere design study,” says Nissan. “This leaning machine gives a clear direction to how a future small car from Nissan could look in congested cities … a clue of what Nissan means by new era of mobility.” Meantime, billed as the world’s first EV designed for large-scale volume production (from late 2010), the five-door Leaf hatchback will make its international motor show debut following its official global reveal in Japan in August.

Nissan says the compact zero-emissions five-seater has a range of more than 160km on a full charge of its lithium-ion battery, and has been committed for sale in Australia in 2012, but may become available for rent here sooner following a deal with hire car company Europcar.

Also on display from Nissan at Tokyo will be the compact Qazana five-door SUV concept that first appeared at the Geneva motor show in March.

As we reported then, the Qazana is said to preview a small crossover that will be built from mid-2010 at the company’s Sunderland factory in the UK as a baby brother to the Dualis. It measures 3395mm long, 1475mm wide, 1735mm high and rides on a 2400mm wheelbase.

Dubbed as “an entirely new type of compact sport crossover”, the Qazana will be a direct rival for the production version of Mitsubishi’s cX-Concept, which is expected to debut at Tokyo before going on sale in Australia in the first half of next year.

Perhaps of more interest than a ‘Universal Design Taxi’ version of Nissan’s NV200 Vanette will be the Tokyo reveal of the “super-spacious” Roox mini-car, which features a remote-controlled sliding side door, rear step and low ground clearance for convenient ingress/egress.

While Nissan will focus on EV technology and battery-charging infrastructure at Tokyo, it says it continues to develop internal combustion engine technology and its exhibit will also feature clean-diesel, a next-generation Jatco-developed X-Tronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technologies.

The latter will come in the form of a new version of Nissan’s flagship luxury sedan in Japan, the Fuga, which goes on sale domestically early next year. The large front engine/rear-drive four-door will feature a number of “world-first” technologies, with a hybrid version also on display.

Powered by a full two-mode hybrid drive system, it mates a 3.5-litre petrol V6 with Li-ion batteries and a one-motor-two-clutch parallel hybrid drive system said to be developed solely by Nissan.

While the Fuga Hybrid will go on sale in Japan in the second half of next year, the redesigned petrol Fuga will come with 2.5 and 3.7-litre V6 engines, “double-piston” shock absorbers and technologies including a lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control.

The BMW 5 Series-sized Fuga measures 4945mm long, 1845mm wide and 1500mm high and rides on a 2900mm wheelbase, but don’t expect it to appear Down Under any time soon.

In a similar category, despite Nissan Australia having laid down the ground work for a local introduction of its Lexus-matching Infiniti brand before the global financial crisis, is a hybrid version of the M35 luxury sedan, which has now been confirmed for production.

Due to be released in Europe by mid-2011 – 12 months after petrol and diesel-powered versions of the new M large sedan go on sale there – the rear-drive Infiniti M35 Hybrid will feature the Fuga’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol/electric drivetrain.

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