Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Future Cars: Dreaming of a Revolutionary New 2015 Nissan Maxima


Automotive design cloaking the majority of vehicles on our roads is a compromise between engineering requirements and conservative tastes of the general buying public. It’s why we see design trends that cross-pollenate across various car makers; like BMW’s ‘Hofmeister Kink’ - with many sedans now using this design element. Another example is the similar surface language that both Ford and Hyundai currently use.

Call it generic diluted design, making just about everything appear…umm well, the same. However, what if the status quo were challenged; turned upside down and kicked to the curb?

Well then, let me introduce this proposal: a medium/large sedan with standout styling that happens to wear two important badges - ‘Nissan’ and ‘Maxima’.

Design:

Taking inspiration from concept illustrations (shown at Nissan’s 360 expo back in August) and GT-R super car, this proposal seeks to bend all the conventional sedan rules. Starting with a dominating front end: An aggressive front grille exaggerates Nissan’s ‘corporate V’ shaped chrome-bar graphic. It drops down over the lower front intake like a snakes fang, connecting both hood and shoulder lines at the bottom.

There’s a hint of Jaguar XF-R with its large, alloy-framed air intakes, while the LED headlights intersect the mesh grille and flank outwards creating a boomerang effect expression. However as you cast your eye over the prominent front fender flares and towards the glasshouse, things really start to depart from usual status quo.

It’s here, where the GT-R applies its presence the most; first of all, yes it adorns a similar floating-roof design like its 2-door sibling and current Mini. However, as the upper roofline tapers down towards the rear, it’s dissected by a small slither of wrap-around glass, connecting the rear window with the side windows.

It may only be a small design trick, but combined with a small window-line ‘up-kick’ over the rear haunches, it really applies visual punch without taking the ‘same-same’ path like many of its competitors do.

Interior:

Arguably, Nissan has been on the beige path with its interiors in recent years. Sure, they look and feel contemporary, but compared with some rivals, they appear a tad unimaginative.

For this study, a good starting base would be with a production version of Nissan’s Friend-ME Concept interior. Gone would be the soft organic shapes that grace the current portfolio of Nissans; instead replaced with angular dashboard and control panel styling. Also emphasizing the next Maxima’s sporting pretenses is a twin-cowl upper dashboard - taking on a similar theme to that found in the Ford Mustang.

Cabin space would be accommodating enough to comfortably seat its passengers with plenty of head and legroom; whilst technophiles would be catered for with various Intel-powered infotainment options from cloud-based services to smartphone pairing for keyless entry and go.

Under The Hood:

The petrol-head within me says this should have the 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V6 from the current GT-R. However in a land closer to earth, the more sensible route would be via a tweaked 3.5-liter V6 from the outgoing Maxima.

If the Japanese car-marker wants to head down the sporting track, one can only hope that some serious work has been applied to its CVT transmission; although ideally a conventional 6-8 speed auto or dual-clutch setup would appeal more to the driving purist.

Platform & Handling:

Nissan touts the current Maxima as ‘the 4-door sports car’. A slightly ambitious tagline perhaps? Nevertheless, if the car were to appeal to driving enthusiasts, then this would be taken more seriously if power was translated to the tarmac via the rear wheels.

Sure, front wheel drive setups have improved vastly over recent years, with help from electronic aids and suspension geometry, yet they don’t quite deliver the same dynamic sideways thrill that RWD vehicles offer. Potentially, the best compromise would yield both AWD and RWD options under one body.

Realistically-speaking, though, the next-gen car will most likely sit on a massaged variation of Nissan’s D-platform, which its Altima and Pathfinder stable-mates are based on, offering FWD and possibly, an AWD option.

Market Positioning:

As Nissan’s top sedan, this proposal has potential to give the competition (size- or price-wise) a run for its money: the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet SS and Toyota Avalon. Apart from the SS, Charger SRT and Taurus SHO, most of these adversaries display little in the way of sporting characteristics.

Whilst the next Maxima may come out on top academically as a driver's car, what remains to be seen is how the market would react to such unique styling. Bold sedan attempts have been tried before - try talking to anyone about the late 1990’s Ford Taurus and you’re guaranteed a shudder in response. Fortunately, Nissan knows what it's doing - if it’s designed right, the punters will come.

Expect an official Maxima concept to debut at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show, with the production version slated for a 2015 release.

As a whole, if Nissan were to follow the contours of this study, a rather exquisite piece of kit could emerge as an industry standout. Coupled with strong driving dynamics and coupe-like styling; it just may even convince the motor critics amongst us that this is indeed - ‘the real 4-door sports car’.

Join in with your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

By Josh Byrnes

Photo Renderings Copyright: Carscoops / Josh Byrnes

PHOTO GALLERY

2016 Nissan Maxima

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