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2006 Nissan URGE Concept

Automotive expert , Updated:
Is Nissan Looking to Bring a Low-Priced Roadster to Market?

Do you remember when Nissan introduced an interesting little conceptual sports car at the North American International Auto Show in
The Azeal created a great deal of media buzz when introduced last year, some even speculating that the sporty subcompact coupe would be built. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press)
Detroit last year? The Azeal created a great deal of media buzz, some, like me, even speculating that a sporty subcompact coupe would soon join a new subcompact hatchback based off the next-generation Micra, and that both were headed for North America.

While the hatchback has been confirmed as the Versa, making its North American debut at this year's Detroit show, no confirmation has been made regarding a sport model. Could the new URGE, also shown in Detroit, but alongside the Versa only a couple of months ago be it? While nothing concrete has been said, there may be reason for fans of the new concept to get excited.

According to Nissan (and Renault) CEO Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese brand needs an affordable sports car. As reported in Automotive News, Ghosn said, "When you bring a concept to a show like this, it's never a coincidence," so, this taken literally, there's hope for last year's Azeal too. "Are
According to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese brand needs an affordable sports car. (Photo: Nissan North America)
we interested in a relatively affordable sports car for Nissan?" Ghosn continued. "Yes. Is this the car? I think it's too early to tell. We have to wait for reaction."

Ghosn considers the compact sports car segment very "legitimate", and if it wants its sales to continue rising in line with its 180 sales targets, entering new market segments is important.

Currently, Nissan only has one sports car, the 350Z, and its high price puts it out of reach of potential low-end sports car buyers, currently purchase Mazda's MX-5 and Pontiac's Solstice; a segment that will be further boosted by GM's second entry-level roadster, the aptly named Saturn Sky. The latter new Solstice's sales have shown that there is indeed room for new low end roadsters, and no doubt Nissan would like to take advantage of such opportunity.

But is the URGE the vehicle to do it? It certainly is exciting to look at, approaching the segment in a much more modern way than the classically proportioned Solstice and MX-5. Rather than swoopy curves and long, lean muscles, Nissan's concept features abrupt angles, motorcycle-style fenders and rear turn signals, which protrude outward from the body-sides for optimal visibility, cool vertical headlamp clusters up front, and a unique T-top roll-hoop that acts as a safety cage in case of accident.

One of the URGE's most distinctive design elements is its see-throughdoors, featuring cutouts in the lower panels with glass inserts. (Photo: Nissan North America)
of the URGE's most distinctive design elements is its see-through doors, featuring cutouts in the lower panels with glass inserts, giving the interior an exposed feel and no doubt making its speed seem faster than it would without the tarmac zipping by beneath.

A carbon fibre black hood is cut in half by a glass cover shedding light on the engine compartment, highlighted by a silver trimmed engine vent that aids in aerodynamics. The shiny black them continues rearward, as the trunk lid curves downward near the base of the car, where it meats up with a narrow fascia sporting tiny circular backup lights that mirror similarly sized chrome exhaust tips just underneath.