- Helping you drive happy

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

To the outside world, the North American International Auto Show is just that: an auto show. One of the world’s largest, certainly, but still an auto show nonetheless.

For the automotive media and public relations representatives from each automaker, it’s a social engineering battle zone. The assembled press can bring carefully crafted questions directly to executives to which they must reply with the pertinent information without giving too much away about future plans.

Following the reveal of Nissan’s Sports Sedan Concept, I had some time with Senior Vice President, Shiro Nakamura, to talk about the company’s design direction and the concepts on display. Instead of calling the concept by its given name, I substituted it for Maxima, sometimes correcting myself, and sometimes not.

Then it happened… Shiro himself started calling it “Maxima.”

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept 3/4 view
Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer

It’s no surprise really, and Nissan knew everyone would make the connection, as they listed the dimensions of the concept along with the official press release. The current Maxima and this new Sport Sedan Concept are so close in measure, I wonder if Nissan will just give the old Maxima some new clothing and call it a day.

Featuring the same V-Motion design as the rest of the range, the Sport Sedan Concept receives a very flamboyant version of this Nissan design language. Up front, the grille treatment, with the V-chrome hoop, is evident. As are the boomerang headlights that first showed up on the 370Z back in 2008.

However, the V-Motion language is not the only influence for what will be the new range-topping sedan. As Shiro pointed out to me, being the top sedan in the Nissan stable also comes with certain responsibilities.

“This car is the top end of the Nissan lineup, except for GT-R, and design-wise this needs to be a symbol for what Nissan design can achieve,” explained Shiro.

“Compare this to the GT-R, even the front grille shape is similar; the shape of the hood is similar. I think the Sport Sedan Concept connects the GT-R with the rest of the lineup. That is another allure of this car.”

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept rear 3/4 view
Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer

The Sport Sedan Concept may also be fairly flashy compared to a road-going sedan for public consumption, but Nissan has been investing highly in this new, expressive design language. Following the Resonance (Murano) and Friend-Me concepts, the Sport Sedan Concept continues certain, distinctive design elements -- such as a “floating roof” -- that are bound to stay and put into production.

It will be produced. During the press conference, as the “Maxima” sat spinning on its turntable between the IDx Freeflow and NISMO, Chief Planning Officer, Andy Palmer proudly proclaimed, “Today, I can tell you that we have at least two of these models set for introduction within our strategic plan.”

A rose by any other name is just as sweet, and taking away the show-time glitz and incredibly boring Sport Sedan Concept moniker gives us exactly what we expect: a production Maxima, set for introduction sometime in 2015.

Expect the new model to continue using the same 3.5L V6 found in the current Maxima. Though, if we can derive anything from what’s being done with the Pathfinder (which now uses a similar front-drive-biased setup), we can also expect the Maxima to get a hybrid version using a supercharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine.

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept cabin
Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer