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Nissan targets strategic design

3-in-1: The 2014 X-Trail replaces the previous model as well as the Dualis +2 and the US-only Rogue

Wider global focus for Nissan to infuse its vehicles with more visual appeal


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20 Sep 2013


NISSAN is undertaking an unprecedented level of international focus, expanding the roles of its various global design hubs to make each capable of go-to-whoa styling execution for both concept and production vehicles.

Located in San Diego, Beijing, London and near Tokyo – with Japan being the central control hub – each studio will be capable of sharing styling duties for the specific Nissan, Infiniti, and the newly resurrected Datsun brands, while infusing the necessary regional requirements in order to make them more attractive to consumers.

There are also two satellite design sites coming, in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and in Silicon Valley, California.

For Nissan-branded vehicles, the designs will reflect the company’s latest styling language as profiled by the Resonance Concept from January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The likely precursor to the 2015 Mk3 Murano, it showcases the ‘V’ motion front-end, ‘Floating Roof’, ‘Sonic Pulse’ character line and ‘Boomerang’ tail-light styling signature that are coming with the next wave of Nissans.

“Nissan is moving forward… we are working on more attractive and stronger design,” says Nissan Design North America vice president Taro Ueda, speaking to the world media at the Nissan 360 global product drive event in California last week.

“We are aiming for a wide global audience outlook.” One of the latest examples of the Nissan’s new approach, according to Mr Ueda, is the third-generation X-Trail codenamed T32, unveiled simultaneously in California and at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 10, and on sale in Australia early next year.

A departure from the previous X-Trail strategy, the T32’s mission is to essentially replace three important models in Nissan’s worldwide portfolio – the outgoing T31 as sold in Australia since 2007, the North America-only Rogue, and the Qashqai +2/Dualis +2 seven-seater crossover in Europe – with a single vehicle.

Mr Ueda told GoAuto that, to that end, the new X-Trail has adopted a new softer and more upmarket design form, to accommodate its expanded role as a three-row crossover when previously it was only a five-seater proposition, while eliminating the unnecessary complexity and expense of model proliferation.

The result of this, he said, has given the designers and engineers of the smaller Qashqai/Dualis Mk2 that is expected to debut at the Tokyo Show in November the freedom to concentrate on honing the styling for its massively vital European market, since there is no need to create a package that can accommodate a third-row ‘+2’ option.

This saves both money and weight in engineering, helping to make a lighter vehicle with a lower carbon dioxide figure, for more favourable tax concessions in Europe.

The importance of the latter in the next version cannot be underestimated since its 2006 unveiling, the existing Qashqai – a C-segment crossover pioneer – has been a smash hit in Europe, more than doubling pre-launch forecasts and becoming one of the bestselling UK-built vehicles of all time, rubbing shoulders with icons such as the Morris Minor and Austin Mini.

Its success, by the way, has given Nissan the confidence to be bolder with product design, as evidenced by the big-selling Juke B-segment crossover released in 2010 (and due in Australia at the end of the year).

Similarly, the L33 Altima mid-sized sedan and its R52 Pathfinder seven-seater SUV offshoot – to be released in Australia in November – are both North American projects tailored to US and Canadian consumers’ needs, but with Australian buyers’ requirements in mind too.

“I believe those product concepts focusing on particular customer will capture not only local customer but global audience widely,” Mr Ueda said.

“Strong design should appeal global customers.

“Juke is the one of the good examples which focused European young male living in the city it now attracts every market in every generation.”

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