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A “new direction” for light vehicle designs?

Jan. 18, 2013
It’s not a truck, as you can no doubt see, so it would be more than fair to ask why it’s sitting here in a truck-focused blog. The answer is at once simple yet complicated.
It’s not a truck, as you can no doubt see, so it would be more than fair to ask why it’s sitting here in a truck-focused blog.

The answer is at once simple yet complicated.

The simple part is that Nissan’s new “Resonance” concept vehicle is based on a “crossover” platform – that is, it “crosses over” the line between light truck and car, trying to meld together the best of both worlds, as it were. It’s also a hybrid vehicle, meaning it’s powered by both a gasoline-fired and electric motor to help boost its fuel efficiency.

The complicated part as to why the “Resonance” is being featured in this space is because concept vehicles – regardless of whether they are modeled on car or truck platforms – provide a glimpse into overall vehicle design trends of the near future.

[You can view more photos of this unique concept vehicle – unveiled at the 2013 North American International Auto Show – by clicking here.]

In the case of the Resonance, then, we’re looking at vehicles with extremely “aerodynamically sculpted” exteriors – making them look more like rocket ships than anything else – not just to inject a huge dose of panache (though that’s part of it) into this concept car but to ensure the exterior helps improve the vehicle’s fuel efficiency footprint as far as much as possible.

Created by San Diego-based Nissan Design America under the direction of Shiro Nakamura (seen at left), senior VP and chief creative officer of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., the front exterior design of the Resonance is based around what's dubbed a “V-Motion” look, which starts from the front grille, moves through the hood and resonates with the iconic boomerang shaped headlights.

Nissan added that the vehicle’s body is strengthened by powerful surfaces and provocative lines and is accented by the flow through the car to the kick-up shape around D-Pillar – giving this crossover concept a very advanced yet spacious impression, the OEM explained.

The roof of the Resonance is a “floating” design reated through the use of thin, steeply raked A-pillars, large full-length glass panel and "flowing" D-pillars – giving the impression of a flowing structure carried onward by the large windows and overall spaciousness of the cabin, the company noted.

Now let’s go inside and examine what Nissan calls the “VIP Lounge” interior of the Resonance.

Believe it or not, Nissan’s designers said they came up with the interior design based on “imagined images” of what the future of first-class space travel might be. Technology is graphically layered to give a “holographic experience” and visual depth is used to separate information in order of importance.

The open glass roof gives passengers what the company calls "a unique panoramic view of the world and floating elements like the roof lining add to the sense of space and airy lightness, while the spacious interior atmosphere is enhanced by the sculpted door panels and elegant, deep shape of the center console."

OK! That’s weird!

Yet for all that designer lingo, the Resonance concept vehicle is very much anchored in reality – especially in terms of the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) drivetrain that uses Nissan's proprietary "one-motor, two-clutch" system to combine a smaller displacement internal combustion gasoline engine with an electric motor/lithium-ion battery and advanced power management system.

The vehicle also features Nissan's next-generation Xtronic CVT (“CVT” being the acronym for a “continuously variable transmission”) as well as an all-wheel drive system to not only keep improving fuel efficiency but safety as well, as power is continuously supplied to all four wheels for better traction and driver control.

Now, you may decide after looking at all this stuff that, no, the Resonance isn’t for you: indeed, maybe the weirdness factor is just too high. And frankly, that’s OK by Francois Bancon, Nissan Motor's division general manager for product strategy and planning.

“The Resonance is meant to be provocative, energetic and engaging – even polarizing,” he explained. “This design is not meant to appeal to traditional two-box SUV shoppers, but rather to those whose fashion and design choices make a statement. For Nissan, this concept makes our statement about the future of this segment.”

Indeed, the Resonance makes quite a bold statement – that is for certain. 

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