Nissan’s new Xmotion Concept looks to the future
Think of Nissan’s new Xmotion Concept as a four-wheeled crystal ball — one that can look into the past, as well as the future.
Although the vehicle that debuted Monday morning is officially nothing more than a show car, Nissan says the Xmotion “signals (its crossover) design direction for 2020 and beyond.” But several sources suggest key elements of the three-row, six-seater will reappear in production form, perhaps as a replacement for the current Pathfinder model.
“The Xmotion Concept is a study in how seemingly disparate elements can gain power and strength through coexistence,” said Alfonso Albaisa, the Cuban-born stylist who last year was named global design chief for the Japanese automaker. “It draws inspiration from the Japanese aesthetics and techniques that have been passed down through generation after generation,” while blending in some very modern technologies like gesture controls and autonomous driving.
Visually, the Xmotion being shown at the North American International Auto Show incorporates some familiar Nissan design cues, such as the brand’s “boomerang” headlamps and V-motion grille, though it grows wider and adds a more three-dimensional element. Albaisa’s team has also come up with what he describes as “U-shape panels,” perhaps the most dramatic shift from Nissan’s current crossover design language.
Inside, the Xmotion adopts a “4+2 layout,” three rows of two seats each, the back row clearly being sized more for pets and kids than grown adults. A long center console dividing the left and right seats is meant to look like it was carved from a single piece of cedar by using “kanawa tsugi,” a Japanese technique for joining wood almost invisibly, Albaisa explained.
Another classic technique, “kumiko,” used by Japanese puzzle-makers, was tapped for the optical illusion created by the taillights. But they actually use a very modern concept called holography.
Indeed, there are plenty of high-tech features on the Xmotion, including hand and eye-motion sensors that are used to operate the crossover’s infotainment and climate control systems, as well as the digital displays that run the width of the instrument panel and which are divided into seven distinct zones.
Instead of using a key or fob, meanwhile, the Xmotion ramps up security by relying on fingerprint identification. And once “awakened,” it signals it’s ready to go as a Japanese koi fish leaps onto the main screen. A personal voice assistant then comes to life.
The concept also makes use of Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPilot technology that debuted on several 2018 models, including the second-generation Leaf battery-electric vehicle. Nissan plans to steadily increase the capabilities of ProPilot, going completely autonomous by 2022. So, a production version of Xmotion would likely offer extensive hands-free capabilities.
As for its drivetrain, Nissan isn’t saying much beyond hinting that the concept is equipped with its Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system. But the Japanese automaker has promised to accelerate its roll-out of electrified powertrain technology, which could mean that by the time a production version appears we very well could see it offered with a hybrid, plug-in or even a pure battery-electric option.