Nissan is previewing the design future of its Qashqai crossover with the showcase of a new concept car at the Geneva motor show. The concept, dubbed the IMq, is the brand’s attempt to reinvent the crossover and introduce electric propulsion to a volume segment.
The IMq was designed by a small team at Nissan’s London design centre in Paddington, and chosen out of a number of entries from studios around the world. The 4.5m-long concept is an athletic-looking crossover with multiple sharp lines, a Range Rover Evoque-style slim glasshouse and spaced-out rear haunches. It also features ‘suicide’ doors leading into a four-seat cabin – both details unlikely to make production. The styling, however, is likely to be toned down for production.
The production car could include the evolution of Nissan’s ‘V-motion’ grille design, featuring vertical slats with no physical cooling intake necessary for its range-extending EV powertrain. Despite the bold exterior, design bosses claim the crossover has been shaped around the theme of ‘Ma’, which is a Japanese expression of minimalism.
The interior, similarly minimalist in conception, features four free-standing, one-piece seats and a large, copper-tinted central tunnel running the length of the car. The infotainment screen is hidden behind a panel in the dashboard, which appears to ‘float’ away from the bulkhead, while a panoramic glass roof provides an airy feel.
The concept is powered by a 340hp dual-electric motor, all-wheel-drive system delivering 700Nm of torque, mated to a 1.5-litre range-extending turbocharged petrol engine. The engine runs at the optimum speed to charge the battery, while our sister publication Autocar UK understands the system has no facility to actually plug-in and charge.
While the IMq is a clear hint at the next-generation Qashqai, Nissan won’t say if the production model will be purely electric-powered or (more likely) will offer petrol and diesel options as well.
IN CONVERSATION WITH MATTHEW WEAVER, DESIGN DIRECTOR FOR NISSAN EUROPE
How do you make a production C-segment crossover stand out?
The original Qashqai was about doing something new but enveloping it in something recognisable. Here we are pushing the envelope again, which we need to do with so much similar competition. We have tried to reinvent the cues of the crossover.
Did you have pushback from bosses to make it more conventional-looking?
“Not at all, quite the opposite. Working under Alfonso (Albaisa, senior vice-president of design]) is great. When I think I’m pushing it in design terms, he comes and says, "Have we pushed it far enough?"
Will this be another concept that looks nothing like the production car?
In my experience, package and proportion-wise, this is a very realistic proposition for production. We can easily translate this sort of design for production – the grille and headlamp shapes will be familiar.