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Nissan’s Silvia lining

Under study: Foria is just one affordable sports car option for Nissan.

Nissan continues to seek the ‘best answer’ for an inexpensive sub-350Z sports car

2 Nov 2007

NISSAN has a number of design studies underway as it seeks to develop a sportscar to slot underneath the ageing 350Z. However, do not expect to see it any time before the end of the decade.

Aimed at filling the void left by the long-dead S15 200SX/Silvia, the as-yet unconfirmed 2+2 sportscar would be a departure from anything Nissan has previously offered.

This includes the adoption of front-wheel drive instead of the more traditional rear-wheel drive applications that the company has employed in the past.

Nissan Motor Co chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura said at the Tokyo motor show last week that he believes there is a captive market for an inexpensive Nissan sportscar.

“We would like to have something below the 350Z,” he revealed. “We love cars, we love driving, so cars like the GT-R and 350Z... for us, the very core and spirit of Nissan is there.” Nevertheless, asked if we are any closer to seeing the long-rumoured replacement for the Silvia, Mr Nakamura remained non-committal, saying only that Nissan was still researching which direction it should go.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan S15 200SX (Silvia).

“Many people say, ‘Why don’t you bring back Silvia again?’. We are studying what we should do in that kind of (segment). In some markets, a 3.5-litre V6 is just enough, while in other markets it would be too big,” he said.

Mr Nakamura confirmed that two previous design studies pointed to a Silvia replacement: the Foria 2+2 RWD coupe from Tokyo 2005 and the Urge, a Lotus Seven-style open two-seater RWD convertible from the 2006 Detroit motor show.

“(With the Foria and Urge), we are studying what is the best answer,” he said.

Mr Nakamura said that he preferred RWD but understood that there would probably be financial limitations should such a project see the light of day.

“There is still an opportunity for... rear-wheel drive, but... economic studies (would have to make it a front-wheel drive),” he admitted.

The obvious upshot of this is the adoption of a current or future Nissan, Renault or even Samsung front-wheel drive platform to serve as a basis for the next Nissan ‘sports’ car. This would hark back to the Pulsar-based EXA and NX coupes of the 1980s and 1990s.

Nissan has shown two front-wheel drive concepts in recent years that may fit into this picture: the Azeal, which was a 2005 Detroit show car that used US-market Nissan Sentra small-car gear, but which has since faded into obscurity and the Tiida Sports Concept of 2005, a three-door hot-hatch version of the small car, that will also not see the light of day.

Regardless of the drivetrain layout, Mr Nakamura seemed positive that we would see a sub-350Z sportscar from Nissan in the not-too-distant future.

“Already people have waited too long. For that I am sorry,” he said.

Read more:

Sydney show: Foria for Nissan

First look: Nissan Foria exercises distinctive design flare

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