The IM series of concepts we have seen from Nissan over the last two years all share some family resemblance – the proudly Japanese aesthetic – but Mamoru Aoki, head of design for Nissan Design Europe, told CDN that they don’t want to produce “ cutter” cars. The design direction may be the same ”but the actual design theme is different for each car”.
Performance is clearly being communicated with the stance of this concept. Matt Weaver, the design director, told CDN: “One of the inspirations for this car is actually the power unit – it has got a huge amount of torque. So, we tried, through the body language, to get a cleaner but still dynamic and taut body with these very clean surfaces, still quite emotional, and then punctuate it with a lot of texture and a lot of detail. The car has a great stance.”
IMQ is very firmly not being pigeonholed as the ‘new Qashqai’, but it previews the next (third) generation of Nissan C-crossover in Europe. It is a type of series hybrid where the electric motors do all the driving and the combustion engine only powers and tops up the battery, with no plug. Nissan calls it ‘e-Power’, and it’s a type of electrification that relates more to the real world where charging infrastructure is less-than perfect.
Designed from scratch in Nissan Design Europe in The Rotunda in Paddington, London, in just one year, it’s firmly aimed at the European market. “The crossover was born in this segment,” Alfonso Albaisa said. There are elements of the exterior which have been designed to speak to the car's performance. Albaisa revealed: “We have tried to reinvent certain cues, like the wheel arch.”
Matt Weaver reiterated this: “Normal crossovers, all our friends in Europe, they have comical wheel arches around the wheel. In the case of this, we have tried to make the whole bodyside a wheel arch. So obviously you have the black embellishments, but the front fender, the widest point of the car is here. This is the front fender then it drops to the rear fender. So the plan shape dives in and then it pulls out to the rear,” he said.
The layering effect at the rear of the concept was deliberate, according to Albaisa, to make what is a fairly wide and heavy style of vehicle feel more nimble.
The Nissan design cues remain – such as the V-motion grille and the boomerang headlamps – but the space between them has been re-thought with ‘ma’ in mind (the mastery of empty space). The origami themes seen on recent Nissan concepts have carried through with the lamps being almost folded into the bodyside.
Weaver headed the design of the exterior of the IMQ and Chetan Chohan lead the interior team. The interior features a laser-cut alcantara material. Venting comes through the fabric as well. On the door, touching the fabric opens the window, and the pattern fades to solid as it extends.
On the floor, the lamella effect seen on the grill and above the wheel arches is alluded to with a floor that evokes the Japanese gravel garden. Where the pedals rest, the pattern creates grip where you need it, and fades to solid where the driver or passengers’ feet would rest, beginning again and rising up underneath the chair to connect the seating to the car. Gold detailing on the seat back, and gold pedals, link with the gold details on the exterior.
“It is hard to construct new shapes in our business,” Albaisa told the crowd at the design walk around, but as Nissan's IM series of concepts shows, certainly not impossible.