The future of Nissan’s design language is shaping up to be a case of evolutionary and revolutionary depending on model, in order to maintain appeal to sports car enthusiasts and gain worldwide desirability for more mainstream models.
At today’s media event at the Tokyo Motorshow we discussed Nissan’s design language in great detail with the company’s chief creative officer in charge of design and brand Management, Shiro Nakamura.
The first of the new Nissan models will be the all-new Nissan Pulsar (replacing Tiida), which Mr Nakamura says will showcase much better proportion and a more emotional design.
It will have “better proportion, which means slightly wider, sexier, more emotional design”. When asked if that’s a move away from traditional Japanese design, he said “we want to make Nissan a more global product. Not too much associated with traditional Japanese heritage”. Adding that the Pulsar and future products will still showcase “Japanese design, but not too loudly”.
He said the biggest challenging facing car designer today is pedestrian safety regulations. Designing cars to meet today’s stringent “safety regulations is more tougher than (designing for) fuel efficiency” adding that front bumper designs of many cars are “very similar as you have no choice”.
The most notable example of this challenge is seen in the design of Nissan’s new NV350 Caravan van which Mr Nakamura said had “almost no choice” in its exterior design.
Even so, Nissan’s sports cars (namely the GT-R and 370Z) are expected to remain looking similar to current models to maintain brand heritage and continued appeal to their core market.
“I think because the GT-R and Z have a long history, we want to maintain the heritage”. When asked if Nissan is following the same design philosophy as Porsche, he said “Porsche (has) almost no change, we will go more than Porsche. More proper evolution for Z and GTR. Porsche customer don’t accept any change, but we don’t want to be that conservative”.
The next-generation Nissan models that are expected to get more revolutionary designs are the X-Trail and Pathfinder, since the company “cannot continue too much evolution for mass market cars. For X-trail we have to go beyond (small design evolutions)”.
Does that mean Nissan is locked into a design language for its core sport car models, but not its mainstream vehicles? “Yes, but (we) still want to evolve, but elements like shape of lamp and face graphics, I don’t think it’s good to change, changes for GTR will have to be very small”.
Mr Nakamura believes segments such as Crossover offer designers much more freedom as customers have no preconceptions, like they do with sedans and sports cars.
Nissan GT-R and 370Z fans can rest easy knowing their beloved sports cars are set to remain relatively unchanged in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile the likes of next-generation X-Trail and Pathfinder will get major design changes for a more modern look.