Nissan took the wraps off the Xmotion — say “cross motion” — concept at the Detroit auto show on Monday, using the sharply-styled compact crossover to showcase Japanese heritage and aesthetics, and demonstrate how contrasting design attributes can coexist in a single vehicle. The design team took inspiration from architecture, landscapes and traditional crafts in designing the Xmotion to offer a window into Nissan’s next generation of crossovers and SUVs.
Note that the Xmotion concept isn’t meant as a preview of an impending production model, even though the Xterra has been notably absent from the lineup for a few years. Rather, the concept attempts to chart a new direction in Nissan SUV design, while anticipating a future dominated by autonomous driving tech.
“The Xmotion concept is a study in how seemingly disparate elements can gain power and strength through coexistence,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design at Nissan. “It draws inspiration from the Japanese aesthetics and techniques that have been passed down through generation after generation. At the same time, it achieves the modern purposefulness required for drivers in the near-future era of connected, autonomous crossover vehicles.”
The interior features a wooden console that runs the length of the cabin.
The concept still features Nissan’s familiar V-motion grille, but just about all other parts of the front fascia have been sculpted in a new way, emphasizing a high window sill line and vertical side treatment. Inside, the sparsely-detailed cabin anticipates autonomous technologies of the future with a series of wide screens positioned just below the windshield. The interior is bisected by a single, light-colored console; this is one of the elements inspired by traditional crafts, in this case Japanese wood joinery techniques. Nissan says that this technique uses neither glue nor a single nail, and that it is known for its durability and strength.
“Careful attention was especially paid to the grain direction, texture and even the aroma of genuine wood to look and feel as if the whole instrument panel and console were cut out of a single Japanese cedar tree,” Nissan says. “Out of respect for resource efficiency, the solid wood look was achieved by using genuine wood overlays, which were sliced out of a single tree that was selected from the woods in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan.”
The concept also takes into account the rapidly approaching autonomous driving future.
The wood theme extends to the underside of the dash itself, which is illuminated by soft red light. The concept’s seats make use of wooden elements as well, and the concave shapes of the seats are meant to be ergonomic. The lack of a B-pillar and the clamshell doors give the Xmotion an airy feel — these types of doors are great for concepts since they allow viewers to see the entire interior, without needless interruptions — and they help with ingress and egress.
“The Xmotion concept’s exterior is very dynamic, very wedged. The strong fenders are fluid and emotional, yet somehow very graceful,” Albaisa added. “That’s a difference between this design and conventional SUVs with Western influence. The Xmotion concept embodies quiet dynamism and a purity that gives it a very unique presence.”
We wouldn’t bet on the next Rogue looking exactly like this, but the Xmotion concept should still be useful in charting the design direction of upcoming Nissan SUVs and crossovers.