Nissan sharpens up IDx

words - Peter Lyon
Nissan's compact rear-drive sports coupe undergoes radical design redirection

Don’t you love it when car-makers get into tit-for-tat powerplays? Remember when Nissan's R35 GT-R crushed the Porsche 911 Turbo back in 2007 with a Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time of 7:38?

Porsche scoffed at that claim and responded by saying its best test driver could not steer a GT-R around the legendary German track in less than 7:50. The battle still rages today.

On the stand at last year’s Tokyo motor show, Nissan was at it again. This time the company's product chief Andy Palmer was blowing raspberries at the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ by saying “buyers of these cars are having a mid-life crisis".

It takes a brave man to describe owners of Japan's hottest, most affordable sports car as ‘mid-life crisis’ candidates.

He was targeting Toyota and Subaru as a ploy to focus attention on Nissan’s concept car, the compact rear-wheel drive IDx.

In a market where Generation Z is losing interest in cars and car culture, Nissan is trying to reignite some passion for motoring with its new IDx sports coupe revealed at last October's Tokyo motor show.

“This is our answer to the mid-life crisis,” said Palmer, who believes that shifting customer paradigms are requiring changes in design, taste and functionality.

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.

Delivering the latest connectivity tools including Bluetooth, Facebook, apps and sat-nav is no longer enough, say designers, adding that cars have to look special too. “Current styling trends are not going to cut it," said one.

So Nissan decided to delve back into its rich heritage of sports cars and race cars to find inspiration for the widely applauded IDx concept.

"We are talking about models like the Datsun 1600, Skyline and Laurel from the 1960s and 70s," says chief designer Satoru Tai.

"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.”

Tai tells us that the IDx's low and wide stance is actually based on a shorter wheelbase than the 86 and BRZ so colourfully described by Palmer.

Now, we are hearing from a source close to Nissan that designers have taken another bold step by adding more aggression and more muscular lines to the IDx concept.

The image you see here is one artist’s impression of the revised IDx, based on information supplied by our insider. It takes the IDx in a whole new design direction, full of muscular surfaces and sharp edges.

Sharing more in common with the Sports Sedan Concept, which was revealed at this year's Detroit show and previews Nissan's next Maxima, the revised IDx will shy away from Tai's original plan for the car to reach back into Nissan sports car and race heritage for inspiration.

We are also hearing that the production version of the IDx, which is a belated spiritual successor for Nissan's discontinued 200SX coupe, will be based on the same platform as the next-generation Z.

Our source also reveals that Nissan bosses are leaning away from the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine in the IDx concept at Tokyo, and towards a gutsier 2.0-litre non-turbo unit generating upwards of 135kW.

This makes sense because the IDx’s main rival will be the 147kW Toyota 86. So with a Z-based platform, a more adventurous exterior and a beefier engine, Toyota can expect a worthy rival for its 86 cult-car when the showroom-ready IDx hits the road in 2017.

Image: Holiday Auto Magazine

Published : Friday, 22 August 2014
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