CHICAGO - Nissan thinks it is just a matter of time before sedans make a comeback. And when that happens, Nissan wants to be ready with an all-new approach.
Designers at Nissan North America Inc. believe consumers who return to the market segment will want something different from what they last drove. To demonstrate its thinking, the automaker unveiled the 'NCS,' or New Concept Sedan, last week at the Chicago Auto Show.
The four-door vehicle, created by Nissan's U.S. design team, borrows design cues from the vehicle segment that long has been siphoning away sedan sales - sport-utilities.
The roofline is higher. Door openings are taller, allowing passengers to enter and exit more easily. The trunk space is accessible from the cabin, as it is in a sport-utility. And the seating is elevated to give that above-the-traffic sensation familiar to sport-utility drivers.
The resulting car is less shapely than the typical sedan of today, with the mixed looks of a hatchback and a wagon.
'This is not a car that was meant to get immediate love from everyone,' said NCS designer Jerry Hirshberg, president of Nissan Design International Inc. He admits that consumer research clinics held around the country indicated 'the design was polarizing.'
But Hirshberg calls the look 'the reinvention of the sedan.'
Nissan thinks the current consumer love affair with bigger and bigger sport-utilities eventually must cool. As owners age, Hirshberg reasons, they will want smaller vehicles that are easier to drive, easier to ride in and easier to climb into and out of.
'Should a car be low, or should we raise it up?' Hirshberg asked. 'Why do we reserve certain vehicle attributes only for sport-utilities and minivans?'