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Nissan’s two-speed design philosophy

Bold in vogue: Nissan will spread the curvaceous design found on its new Pulsar to other members of its passenger family.

Bold is in at Nissan – except for icons like GT-R, Zed and now Dualis

6 Dec 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in TOKYO

NISSAN is entering a bolder design phase for its core mainstream models such as the upcoming Pulsar, X-Trail, Murano, Pathfinder and Maxima replacement (thought to be the 2013 Altima), as it seeks to balance standout styling with spacious packaging.

However, while it is no surprise to learn that iconic models such as the GT-R and 370Z sports cars will stick with gently evolved designs as to not offend fans and purists, Nissan has revealed that the wildly successful Dualis (Qashqai elsewhere) will also retain much of its existing looks and form to keep the crossover’s burgeoning European buyer base happy. Speaking to the Australian media at last week’s Tokyo motor show, design head Shiro Nakamura revealed that a sleeker and sportier look was generally the way forward for most of its next-generation sedans and SUVs, but without compromising the efficiency buyers had come to expect from Nissan.

“We are introducing new sedans in a couple of years … so we are in a period of renewing (our main line-up),” Mr Nakamura said.

“It’s not a dramatic change but our cars are becoming sportier yet with roominess and modernity. Smart packaging is very important.” Mr Nakamura cited the upcoming Pulsar (second-generation Tiida abroad) hatchback as an example of Nissan’s way of thinking.

 center imageLeft: Nissan design head Shiro Nakamura. Below: Current 370Z and Dualis/Qashqai.



“The new Tiida is a very good – it is much roomier than today’s Tiida. I know (the existing model) is too small and too skinny for your country, so therefore we have expanded it with much better proportions. It is wider with a better stance, roomier in the back … and has more emotional design.

“And the same story is coming for the Maxima (replacement) – better proportions and sexier design … with a nice wave line … like the (new Pulsar). It’s a good way to express emotion.

“It’s not necessarily Japanese design – Nissan is about global design so it is not associated with traditional Japanese heritage. It is more about modernity … more about international global product.” However, in singling out Nissan’s current sports car range as exceptions to the coming design revolution, Mr Nakamura said the next-generation versions will visually progress more than Porsche’s 911.

“Because the GT-R and Zed has a long history, we want to maintain the heritage,” he said. “From 350Z to 370Z I hope you can clearly see the continuity.

“But we will go more than Porsche (with the 911) … we need to have proper evolution.

“With the X-Trail there was evolution but now there will be revolution. We did quite a small step from first to second generation. Therefore design wise I want to undertake a bigger jump for the next generation.

“We cannot continue with just evolution with this car … because customers are not as enthusiastic (about design) with this brand. Therefore we have to go beyond (expectations) … while something like the GT-R has to be for the enthusiasts.

“For example, we will never change the tail-lamps – they will always be circular the front end graphics we want to maintain like from R34 to R35 and even the D-pillar will always be clearly three-box not fastback. Clearly we want to evolve but we (will keep the signature GT-R features).

“We are always designing for the customer.” And it is in this category that the Qashqai/Dualis falls.

“The next Qashqai will be quite evolutionary actually … but with a much nicer design and a much higher authority,” he said.

“Better proportion, more sexy design, much higher interior quality, and much higher performance than before. People will love it.” Asked in which models he could take most risks, Mr Nakamura nominated the Juke compact crossover and Murano midsized SUV.

“I think with the crossover segment we can have much more freedom because it is a new category,” he said.

“There are no preconceived perceptions from customers. Sedans are sedans, sports cars are sports cars, and coupes are coupes … The Juke for example does not belong to anything. Therefore I quite like designing crossovers. There are lots of new challenges I can do.

“And the next Pathfinder will also see big changes too.”

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