It’s a brave man who can come out with barrels blazing and say that he thinks buyers of the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ are having a ‘midlife crisis’.
That’s exactly what Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said recently when referring to two of the hottest, most affordable sports cars to venture forth from Japan in a decade.
So can Nissan do any better? Apparently yes.
“You’ll see our answer to the midlife crisis at the Tokyo Motor Show. Except it won’t be for a midlife crisis,” added Palmer. “It’ll be aimed at young and middle-aged types alike.”
In a marketplace where Generation Z is losing interest in cars and car culture, Nissan is trying to generate some appeal and inject passion back into motoring with a radical new two door, rear wheel drive concept car, the IDx.
Nissan designers and conceptualists say that customer paradigms are changing significantly which means that a new style of car must be created to appeal to a changing customer base.
Trying to appeal to digital natives who value IT and social media networks as the new communication tools of the 21st Century is the key, says one designer.
The car has to be stylish, offer the right combination of social networking tools including Bluetooth, Internet and GPS satnav connectivity, and also drive well. But Nissan’s product planners realised that these features were not enough to create a car that catches the eye as well as the heart.
So, to fill in the blanks in this, its 80th anniversary, Nissan decided to delve back into its rich heritage of sports cars and race cars to find inspiration for such a car.
As chief designer Satoru Tai says, “We are talking about models like the Datsun 1600, Skyline and Laurel from the 1960s and '70s. That is where we sourced our inspiration.
"We conceived the IDx through direct interaction with Generation Z who seek a compact, minimalistic sedan-shaped coupe,” he said.
Boasting a low and wide stance, the IDx is actually a little smaller in wheelbase than the 86 and BRZ, explains Tai.
And a quick look at the IDx’s silhouette reveals these design slants. As an owner of a Datsun 1600 back in university, this writer can definitely see some 1600 influence in the IDx’s side profile. And while this design is fresh and new but with retro hints for young buyers, the overall design seems all too familiar yet appealing for buyers in their 40s who grew up watching 1600s and Skylines appear on the roads.
Tai went onto say that one other aspect of this concept that he thought important for young and mid-aged buyers alike would be a rear-wheel drive platform.
Nissan was being tight-lipped about the powertrain, but one engineer suggested that a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine generating around 110kW (150hp) would most probably find its way into the IDx’s engine bay.
To pluck at the heartstrings of all those who long for the “new,” but with a touch of nostalgia, Nissan will also be unveiling an IDx Nismo version draped in the company’s traditional racing colours and featuring bigger wheels and raunchy aeroparts and interior appointments.
If Nissan's Executive Vice President Andy Palmer has anything to do with this car, we could see the IDx in showrooms as early as 2016.
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