Nissan plans expanded sports car attack

Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer wants to see a four-pillar sports coupe range to broaden the company’s demographic appeal.

Firstly, Palmer confirmed that a GT-R successor is in the pipeline: “Are we working on a new GT-R? Will there be a new GT-R? Absolutely, it’s inconceivable that Nissan wouldn’t have a GT-R in its line-up.”

He then saidthat both the retro-themed IDX Concept and the visionary eco-focussed Blade Glider EV electric vehicle, both revealed at last year’s Tokyo motor show, are also under development and are production feasible.

However, even if they get the green light, we won’t see either before 2016 at the very earliest.

“(The IDX Concept) is in development,” he told the Australian media at the New York International Auto Show this week.

“To be clear, that’s not the same as confirming that it is definitely going to come, because normally you have a number of milestones that you confirm. We’re going through the evaluation of IDX.”

While hesitating to confirm concrete production plans for the IDX Concept, Palmer did reveal that such a car would have the Toyota 86 in its crosshairs in terms of both pricing and positioning.

“That would be the kind of territory that you would need to be looking at,” he said.

“I’d love to do it, and in my mind I see this eco system of four sports cars that essentially define and cover the segments.

“You’ve got the GT-R as basically the fast and furious sports car, you’ve got the next-gen Z, which is more classical, you’ve got the IDX, which is very much aimed at being what sports cars were when I was a lad, for bad boys, that you could afford and have fun, and then off the map is the guilt-free fun that is the Blade Glider.

“IDX is about light weight, connected, rear-wheel drive and downsized smaller engines, so it becomes something affordable from an insurance point of view. And the power-to-weight ratio becomes very good. So I see that as an alternative – a sort of mirror or inverse of the Zed for the younger generation.”

Palmer said he is especially excited about the Blade Glider’s radical packaging possibilities for keen driving enthusiasts.

“The Blade Glider is an electric sports car, but when you no longer have to put the engine where God meant it to be. You can put the engine in the wheels.

“And when your platform is essentially a battery, then everything you do essentially above that level is entirely at the whim of the designer. So you can create something like Blade Glider that transforms your perception of what your car should look like.

“And that design of Blade Glider, with its narrow front end, when you have a chance to drive that, it’s phenomenal. It changes your perception of how a sports car should handle.”

Adding that Nissan’s engineers have already undertaken all the necessary groundwork, Palmer said a production-based Blade Glider would remain true to the concept.

“And why not? We’ve been making cars for 80 years. We know the crash regulations, we know most of the pitfalls.

“We’ve already made it. We’ve made prototypes and it works. There is no reason why you can’t have a narrow track.

“And we wouldn’t put a car on the market that wouldn’t pass a crash test.”

The end result of all this sports car activity is to get young people interested in Nissan again.

“Hopefully we can re-engender some excitement with the youth of today who are a little bit disenchanted with the motor car.”

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