Nissan Maxima to follow Murano with show-car flair

The Sports Sedan Concept, right, shared the stage with the new Murano. Photo credit: REUTERS

NEW YORK -- Nissan Motor Co. said the next redesigned Maxima sedan will reach showrooms looking almost identical to the flashy Sport Sedan Concept it unveiled in January in Detroit.

The news follows Nissan’s unveiling this week of the 2015 Murano crossover that is also almost identical to the flashy Resonance Concept it previously displayed.

The redesigned 2015 Maxima will reach U.S. showrooms this fall, Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz said at the New York auto show Wednesday.

“The difference between the concept car and the production car will be very small,” Munoz said, referring to the Sports Sedan Concept that shared the stage with the new Murano.

The four-door Sport Sedan Concept features a lowered and downward curving hood line, and the wide, low stance of a sports car. The design incorporates swirling hood lines and long curving body side creases that communicate motion.

Auto show concept cars are typically more daring than manufacturers like to be in the marketplace. They are intended to draw attention to the nameplate, to the company’s broader design direction, or to emerging ideas and attitudes.

Show cars are usually toned down in time for mass production.

But Nissan’s decision to keep the bold show car styling for the Murano and Maxima is strategic, says Andy Palmer, Nissan’s global chief of product planning.

“We want to communicate who Nissan is,” Palmer said after presenting the new Murano here today.

He says that bold styling is a key tool in helping Nissan achieve a critical North American goal – outselling the Honda brand to become the No. 2 import brand in the United States.

“As we close in on Honda, it will be distinctive styling like this that brings new customers into our products,” Palmer says. “And frankly, I’d rather have 60 percent of people saying they like it, and 40 percent of people saying they hate it than to have 100 percent of people saying it’s just OK.”

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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