More lost in translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima saloon

North American sports fans were treated to a look at the next Nissan Maxima during the Super Bowl intermission**. 

2015 Nissan Sport Sedan concept
2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept

Many were impressed by the sentimental video and debate raged about the car´s overall style. Few disliked it. I noticed that a lot was lost in translation from the 2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept to the 2016 car. Reminiscent of the Citroen Cactus concept car, the 2015 Nissan sport sedan concept had rather flashy glass work. The A-pillar was blacked out to look as if the glass of the windscreen

2015 Nissan Maxima sport sedan concept. Note the clean line over the windscreen and side glass.
2014 Nissan Maxima sport sedan concept. Note the clean line over the windscreen and side glass.

was extended to cover the A-pillar. At the rear, the glass “cut” into the c-pillar, implying the glass was underneath the metal or the metal was covering a larger, unseen sheet of glass. As with the Cactus, things were cost-cut and sacrificed on the altar of feasibility.

Too costly to do. Note the black line of the "side glass" cutting into the c-pilar.
Too costly to do. Note the black line of the “side glass” cutting into the c-pilar.

Looking at the A-pillar, it´s clearly just painted metal. And the way the top of the windscreen turns the corner to the side glass we see a bump which looks as poor as that found on the Citroen DS3. Regular readers will know that the way to handle this is to make sure a virtual plane or simple curved surface controls the boundary between the roof and the glass. The Mini and Suzuki shown below illustrate the job done properly.

2016 Nissan Maxima: note the dodgy bump at the top of the A-pillar which is just painted black.
2016 Nissan Maxima: note the dodgy bump at the top of the A-pillar which is just painted black.

At the rear, that impressive gouge in the concept C-pillar has become another bit of plastic or paint. The Peugeot 208 does this, approximately, with that odd black tab that carries forward of the side glass under the side mirror. The whole conceit of the floating canopy has been lost – on the show car it looks quite fetching.

2016 Nissan Maxima productioncar. Like the Citroen Cactus the DLO graphics are just that: painted on, as fake as the vinyl appliques on a 70s station wagon. What´s missing is the three dimensionality of the concept car. And the cost, of course.
2016 Nissan Maxima productioncar. Like the Citroen Cactus the DLO graphics are just that: painted on, as fake as the vinyl appliques on a 70s station wagon. What´s missing is the three dimensionality of the concept car. And the cost, of course.

The rest of the car shows how what was a promising if rather over-wrought concept car was forced over a convenient package, like a Procrustean bed.

2011 Citroen DS3. The same A-pillar failure as on the Nissan, above.
2011 Citroen DS3. The same A-pillar failure as on the Nissan, above.
2013 Suzuki Swift: a much better attempt at a wraparound windscreen and on a much cheaper car.
2013 Suzuki Swift: a much better attempt at a wraparound windscreen and on a much cheaper car.
2013 Mini Cooper: again, a much better controlled glass to roof junction at the A-pillar.
2013 Mini Cooper: again, a much better controlled glass to roof junction at the A-pillar.

For reference, in 1995 Nissan were having a go at refined and understated industrial design. Here is the Maxima of that year which shows careful attention to detail and, in my view, a more enduring bit of work.

1995 Nissan Maxima: Nissan does Bauhaus.
1995 Nissan Maxima: Nissan does Bauhaus.

** The video is revolting.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “More lost in translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima saloon”

  1. I’m still quite fond of the 1988 model, and it seems a fair few Russians agree. Properly battered it looks excellent.

  2. Such an over-designed blob this car is. Will date so quickly as well. Fine if you want to be the first to get one and stand out next to your mates in their Camrys, but elegant you certainly never will be. The accentuated (and this VERY fat looking) rear haunches are by far the worst part of this car. Or is the Qashqai SUV nose? Or maybe the Formula 1 car front spoiler protrusion? Argh I don’t know. Let’s just call the whole thing a mess.

  3. People put up with this sort of thing, but do designers really think their customers are so visually incompetent that they don’t notice the difference? The masked off and black painted A pillar is becoming a dire cliche, and one that indicates corner cutting. Ask the question, if that’s what they do on the surface, how much care do they take where it doesn’t show?

  4. The horrid view of the production model from above, where the black (I’m sure it’s just paint) returns round the C pillar in place of the nick/gouge. It just shouts “I’m cheap, I am”. We return to the question that Mr Callum never answers about his eccentric C pillar treatment for the XJ – though at least that isn’t just paint.

  5. I remember being very impressed by the concept for what became the 2001 Primera at the Birmingham Motorshow (remember that?). The subsequent production model looked sort of similar, but had obviously been crammed on to a platform, as the proportions and detailing were way off.

    One wonders why Nissan persisted with the floating roof motif from the GTR when Accounts indicated that the model was not going to get the frameless windows needed to carry it off? That said, Landrover pull off a very similar thing with the Evoque and that has steel framed windows, albeit immaculately thin ones.

  6. Funny, that Primera concept also caught my attention. That was the one they said looked like a car covered in snow? My brother in law has one and I feel the interior could have been a Lancia if it had had warmer materials.
    Those are good questions. Someone made styling promise more than accounts could deliver.

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