A class in retrofuturism from 1989. Driven to Write dons a black polo neck to pronounce upon Nissan’s Neo-X concept.
During the late 1980s, Japanese car design appeared to be going through something of a purple patch. By way of illustration, the 1989 Tokyo motor show marked the introduction of three fine Nissan concepts – the Primera-X, (not to be confused with the 1990 production car it prefigured), the ‘Pike Factory’ Figaro concept, but also the subject of today’s retrospective – Nissan’s take on a full-sized saloon for the 1990s.
Why not wander over to the US market to inspect activities thereover? Well, why not?
Even as the death of the saloon car is debated (Ford and FCA are giving up in the US), Nissan has flung piles of succulent, cold cash at a new entrant in the medium-sized saloon sector, offering us its new Altima. The engine changes are baffling in that displacement and output relations are upside down. The 2.5 has been utterly (95%) overhauled and the 3.5 V6 is now out, replaced by a 2.0 compression in-line four that uses less fuel and can Continue reading “The Theme From “Salazar’s Hatstand””
Today we turn our attention to the 2017 Nissan Micra. This offers us a chance to learn the Nissan project code for the car, K-14.
We also get to canter through a potted history of a car that has lurched from banal to brave and back, like a drunken tide. The current car has a touch of brave and also a few dollops of busy. Before we get to that we shall
Coincidences happen and don’t mean anything. Still, they add a touch of poetic interest to our otherwise unstructured and meaningless lives. Here’s one that actually happened to me!
About a week ago I was walking home from the supermarket. I think I’d bought some onions and some sliced bread (I like toast in the morning sometimes). Exactly as I passed the doorway of the rather good hamburger joint on the street, my subconscious mind notified my conscious mind that I could not Continue reading ““What It Is Really Like To Be A Fictional Person””
Very recently this author was immersed for three days in the world of the aesthetics of design. Dieter Rams’ name came up.
Deiter Rams worked as Braun’s chief designer, having a desk there from 1961 to 1995. It occurred to me that I agree with the whole lot of Rams’ principles which are opposed to zany, aggressive styling and yet I am a known liker of cars such as the Nissan Juke and Toyota CH-R.
People will also know of other zany and aggresssive designs which offend to a degree and I don’t dislike all of them. I have come to accept some zaniness is quite okay (maybe it’s resignation). Is there any way I can Continue reading “The Last Letters Of Carpenter”
Does it really matter what car designers say? Should it?
Car designers nowadays are expected not only to be adept at the creative aspects of their calling, but must also learn to articulate it in a manner which in theory at least, helps us, the end user, to engage with and better understand their vision. To be frank, given how some designers appear to struggle with the first component, it is not entirely a surprise to discover that so few of them are anything but inept when it comes to the latter.
It has long been known and indeed commented upon that car designers, and especially those in a leadership role, speak such unregurgitated twaddle. Given the amount of time they spend making impassioned presentations to senior management who require their hands held throughout the stylistic decision-making process, they appear to have lost their ability to Continue reading “Toxic Emissions”
As the years go by, one can see a car design more clearly. And some ashtray concepts are timeless. Today, Nissan’s Primera Mk2, timelessness personified.
This is the P10 Primera, code-name fans. It is one to remember because this version of the Primera hit the sweet spot in terms of its size, tractability, quality and ashtrays. The previous car was the Bluebird, a form of sensory deprivation and the successor nice to look at but disappointing to steer.
Sometimes you have to go in search of news. It won’t come looking for you. Read on to learn which of their cars Ford UK considers “large”.
Let’s get going! Honda UK announced that the four-door Civic is going to be sold in the UK and that it is made in Turkey. Eager customers must wait until August to get their hands on their own example. A single petrol version with 1.0 litre i-VTEC will vie with the 1.6 litre diesel for sales. The gear ratio race is now up to nine cogs at Honda and you can have such a set-up in either manual or CVT automatic form.
Because the saloon is wider, longer and lower it can take up the demand unsatisfied by the gaping Accord-shaped hole in Honda’s line-up. The payoff is a lot of room inside: “class leading,” claim Honda modestly.
“Datsun leaps ahead!” Archie Vicar has a look at the exciting new 1978 Datsun Sunny in what appears to be a verbatim transcript of a period review.
The article first appeared in the South Caledonian News Inquirer, October 31, 1978. Douglas Land-Wimdermere [sic] took the original photos. Owing to the poor quality of the archive material stock photos have been used.
The Japanese marques don’t appear to give the impression of ever looking like they rest on their laurels (which, funnily, we also find in the Nissan range) so naturally enough, before we became accustomed to the old Sunny, a new Sunny has come along. And a jolly good thing too, I hear you say. For the old one had many good qualities and these have been built-upon in the new model.
Since 1975 many customers have bought the reliably-selling 120Y, making it Britain’s most popular import by a broad margin. The new Sunny takes on a refreshed guise, sporting a simpler and even more tasteful appearance. In its dark yellow paint, blacked-out front grille and its dapper wheel covers, it stood out against the dull concrete background of Worthing where Datsun have their head offices. It certainly will grace many a driveway for sure.
This little number is up for sale in Jutland. It’s too good to fall under the rubric of Something Rotten In Denmark.
The photo is a screenshot (a deliberate choice). Bilbasen should adjust their web-page so as to show the complete photo; evidently the entire photo is uploaded but it is cropped to fit the box. A thumbnail in the screen shot shows the entire car. What about the design story? Continue reading “Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour”
A chance sighting prompts something approaching a defence.
Since we created Driven to Write three years ago, I have undergone something of a re-education about cars and particularly when it comes to their design. Even though we might actually only rub shoulders about once a year, I often feel as though I have a virtual Herriott at my ear, urging me to look at that innocuous looking tin box over there with fresh eyes. Going about my business yesterday, I happened past a stationary 2016 Micra. Not a car to which I’d normally give more than the most cursory of glances, but given some of the damning responses to the example featured earlier in the week, I felt I ought to give it a second glance. Continue reading “Speaking Micra”
As promised here is a small snippet on a special edition you may have missed.
Quite coincidentally, Jimi Beckwith at Autocropley has been musing about the subject. Dreamcar.dk reported the momentous news of the Nissan Micra Elle as follows (in Nov 2012): “Nissan and the world’s most popular fashion magazine, Elle, have joined forces to develop a special edition of the popular city car, the Micra. The goal for both partners is to
While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:
Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra. Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”
While the mainstream UK motoring press likes to pretend it tells it like it is, they often don´t.
The 1995 Nissan QX served as a butt of jokes at Car magazine who reminded us ironically that “it exists“. Autocar took a more charitable view, summing it up as a superbly built revelation on the road. Apart from this this, the QX is quite forgotten. Not by me for whom these kinds of neglected cars are some kind of mild obsession. I suppose it’s the fact the press told us not to bother that makes me want to know what it is that we must ignore. Continue reading “Everything You Know Is Wrong”
What’s hard to believe is that this design was the product of seasoned designers.
The 1993 Nissan AQ-X has several small and large errors that add up to something of a disaster. But we will learn from this. Being charitable, it’s a packaging car. The rear compartment has stupendous legroom. The doors open wide for easy ingress and, when you need to, egress. Up close the vehicle is finished to a professional standard (I mean at about 10 cm distance). At 10 metres you begin to wonder whether the person who had sketched the car had sketched many cars before this. Continue reading “Concept Car Du Jour”
Following his Final Report from 2015 and his subsequent Update from last April, here’s another one from Sean. Until the penultimate, absolute final update report he plans for late 2017 or thereabouts.
There was always the worry that, with time, the scales would fall from my eyes and I would see the Cube as the embarrassing and rather fatuous novelty that others see it as. Certain respected visitors to this site have made their abhorrence of the car apparent, and others have possibly implied it politely, by evading the subject entirely. However, for me, the satisfaction of ownership hasn’t worn off. Of course, city dwelling, and my rag-bag of alternative vehicles, means that I’ve only done about 7,000 miles in it over 18 months but, for me, it’s an excellent thing to have. Spacious inside, compact outside, good all round view. It’s perfect in town, and perfectly tolerable on long journeys. A hypothetical electric Cube might be preferable but, when I consider the alternatives actually available, I have no regrets. Continue reading “Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update”
Few Murano’s roam about Jutland. I’ve always liked this car even if I am not a fan of softroaders.
The Murano shows what we might call Japanese design rationalism although the designers did their work in California. The bit we ought to notice is the very intelligent shutline management of the tailgate, rear lamps and rear quarter panel. The tailgate is oversized so as to eliminate the need for the roof panel to join to the C-pillar. Continue reading “2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism”
Scouring the varied cars of Gran Turismo yielded a JDM gem – the Nissan Sileighty.
Don’t go scouring your collections of official Nissan brochures for a SilEighty though; this one is special. Torquepost describes it thus:
“Drifters and street racers who… raced their Nissan 180SXs found that replacing their front ends when they became damaged was very cost prohibitive… due to the pop-up headlamp assemblies. To remedy this… the Nissan Silvia S13’s cheaper parts, including the lighter panel headlamp assemblies, front fenders, hood, and front bumper would be installed instead. Thus, the car would have the front end of an S13 Nissan Silvia, and the rear badge of the original 180SX. And so, the name SilEighty emerged.”
Although I had put the running report on my Cube on hold, based on the fact that there wasn’t much else to write about it except that I like it, I’m writing something in line with this month’s theme.
Actually, I had intended an April 1st piece detailing the work I’d had done by a sympathetic body shop, cutting mine and a LHD Cube down the middle and mating the two sections in order to impose symmetry. But I missed the deadline. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update”
I mentioned this car in a thread to an earlier article and felt the need to show some pictures and make a comment or two.
The S-Cargo was launched in 1988 at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was one of a series of limited edition cars from what was known as the Pike Factory section at Nissan. I remember the instant like I had for what I saw and it has never faded.
The S-Cargo is clearly a homage to the classic 2CV van which was popular as an import to Japan in that era. Inside there are strong 2CV themes – minimalist features, strictly functional styling, and a dash mounted gear control enabling the two front seats to be set together. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1989 Nissan S-Cargo”
Japanese automotive engineering went into warp-drive mode in the middle 1980s. The Nissan CUE-X of 1985 remains an impressive tour de force of the purest styling and technical experimentation.
Starting under the skin of this elegant and minimalistic design, we find electronic air suspension which controlled the spring rates, ride height and attitude. The damping could be altered as well making this a car which had the potential to fill a brief written by Citroen. Going further than Citroen did with their 1988 XM, the Cue-X also boasted four-wheel steering* The description of how it works is very similar to that of the XM: sensors sent signals to the vehicle’s central processor. The data described vehicle height, road speed, steering input, braking forces, throttle position and gear position. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1985 Nissan CUE-X”
What is about the 1982 Cherry that continues to captivate? The virtually unique N12 Datsun Cherry conforms fully to Nissan´s forward-thinking approach to car design. This ties for seventh place with tomorrow’s 7b.
The 1982 Datsun Cherry (N12) carried on the success of the 1970-1977 version which helped establish Datsun’s presence in Western Europe. In particular it was able to capitalise on the appallingly designed and badly made products being offered in the United Kingdom, a situation that persisted until BLMC’s last fragments were closed. Datsun discovered that Continue reading “Driven to Write’s Top Fifty Countdown: Number 7a”
In 2013 Nissan showed the Friend-Me at the Beijing Auto Show. This one makes a nice job of the trick C-pillar. Why?
Because it is actually glazed as opposed to being painted. And the graphics and panels are correctly related. I don’t mind this one at all. This is what Nissan says: “Combining striking design with an advanced premium interior, the Friend-Me concept car is a fascinating exploration of how the car of the future may Continue reading “More On C-Pillars But This One Is Good”
While we are on the topic of pick-up trucks, Nissan have something to say about their newish NP300 Navara.
Nissan call it the ‘world’s best pick-up’ which is quite a claim. Many Ford F-150 owners might have another opinion on that. The Navara did manage to win the International Pick-Up of the Year award so that’s something, I suppose. The price for one of these is a bit north of Ford’s ranger, nearly £18,500. The Navara comes in five trim levels and comes with a double or king cab so it’s ready to Continue reading “More Commercial Vehicle News”
This is not so bad. And it’s cheap. It’s the Nissan 100 NX.
As with so many of these types of cars, they dissolve into obscurity and when you chance upon them they look much better than you remember them. We have discussed in these pages design rationalism of the French and German types. In the Nissan 100 NX we see some more of this. The way the shutlines and panel gaps are set up is very disciplined indeed. Look at the way the bonnet shutline goes without interruption from one side of the window base to the other. Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX”
He’ll never lose it in a car park but, after 4 months, how is Sean’s relationship with his Cube going?
So, how does the Nissan Cube measure up to the classic Cubes of history. Rubik’s Cube, The OXO Cube, the Sugar Cube, the 1997 science-fiction film Cube and O’Shea Jackson, AKA Mr Ice Cube. Well, it has one thing in common with the last named in that it is not truly a 3D object bounded by six identical square faces. But is it in any way exceptional? Continue reading “Final Report : Nissan Cube”
There is one of these on sale in Denmark and the dealer does not know how to sell it. Look at these photos.
I wonder if is there money to be made in offering a photography service for cars? The seller is trying to flog this rather good car for about €7000 and has made every mistake possible in taking the photos. The photo above shows the car with the sun illuminating the side we can’t see. In this photo the car is just too damn big to Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1995 Nissan Maxima QX V6”
While browsing through some old Autocars, I found a long-term test of the Nissan 200 SX. Hasn’t Nissan changed a lot since then?
The proportions are spot on and the pronounced boot is thrillingly conservative. Autocar complained the available volume was too small and the hinges intruded. They decided it was more of a GT than a sports car and who am I to disagree? I had utterly forgotten this car and indeed that side of Nissan that dared to Continue reading “The Forgotten Face of Nissan: 1995-2000 200 SX”
I’ve now had my Nissan Cube for a month and a half. Any Regrets?
In the spirit of our strapline, I’m presenting Part Two of The World’s Least Relevant Long Term Test, referring to a car that, although still apparently on sale in Japan, flopped in Europe and is no longer available in the USA. My Nissan Cube is a third series (Z11) example, a 2010 1.6 litre manual, petrol-engined Kaizen model in Pearl White. I bought it in June 2015 at just under 30,000 miles.
I remember seeing the concept car upon which this car was based. They included it at the 2000 London Motor Show though it was originally unveiled in Paris. Nissan intended to make a car as bold as the previous version had been blandly, if neatly styled.
Automotive Intelligence said this: “The Fusion concept is based on an ambitious philosophy. The brief to the Nissan designers was to develop an innovative style which adds strong emotional involvement to the traditional technical excellence of Nissan’s products; and to integrate western taste and Japanese roots, interpreted in a modern and even futuristic way.” Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Nissan Primera”
There used to be a lot more of these sorts of cars in Denmark a decade ago.
Now they are rarer but here is a running and non-museum quality daily driver. I find such cars a puzzle as they are so unrelentingly charmless. What is about the car that means the driver keeps it going when a 12 year old Focus or 14 year old Polo can be had for about two weeks wages? Continue reading “A photo for Sunday – 1982 Nissan Cherry”
Today the blogosphere is alive with comments about Nissan’s new Maxima, the one with the iffy decoration on the C-pillar.
Nissan has chosen to associate this new Maxima with the 4DSC tag, which means 4 Door Sports Car, a name which originated in 1985 with the Nissan Maxima 4DSC. What’s this got to do with evolution? It is more a case of a lack of evolution, at least in stylistic terms. It is not that the Maxima hasn’t changed but that it has had revolution not evolution. This lack of continuity from one generation to the next troubled me 25 years ago. I noticed Renault tended to Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – 1985 Nissan Maxima 4DSC”
A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.
Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.” Continue reading “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”
Not as well as the Qashqai but the Qashqai has outsold the Ford Focus in January 2015.
According to Nissan UK, the Qashqai cross-over/softroader has achieved sales of 19,500 units. The Pulsar has shifted 3,322 units in January. By comparison the Focus, (Ford’s evergreen mid-size family hatchback), does much better. Ford claim 14,500 vehicles sold. However, if we do not compare like with like, the Qashqai shows people are willing to Continue reading “How Well is Nissan’s Pulsar Doing?”
North American sports fans were treated to a look at the next Nissan Maxima during the Super Bowl intermission**.
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 Continue reading “More Lost in Translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima”
We were discussing design principles recently. Here’s a car that’s technically correct but unlike Audi fails to generate the slightest flicker of emotion or intellectual satisfaction.
I saw this Sunny parked near the Aixam Mega van. It’s neat and orderly. All the parts cohere in a professional way. Yet unlike an Audi of the same period there is missing an element to lift it above ordinary. Continue reading “1985-1990 Nissan Sunny Estate”
From 1990 to 2002 this car represented the very best Nissan could be.
It’s the President. Like the Toyota Century the styling is very formal indeed. It has overtones of Jaguar XJ-40 and Chevrolet Caprice all fused in that unique way the Japanese have of synthesising. Since this version the President has lost its way and is now a variant of something also sold as an Infiniti. Continue reading “Japanese Limousine of the Day: Nissan President”
I am indebted to Eóin for drawing my attention to the repugnant excess of the Mercedes S-class interior.
This has led me to Japan to investigate their approach to boardroom-level transport. Helping me along the way was an article at The Truth About Cars about the Tokyo car show of 1995 and a live web-page showing Nissan’s offerings then.
Soft touch plastics, chrome trim, lots of accessories: throw all that at some shapes and maybe the customer won’t notice how boring their car interior really is. The 2011 Nissan Moco is a kei-car and that means it’s small and cheap. The designers couldn’t use costly tricks and so did it the hard way: careful and creative styling.
The received wisdom is that the Juke is an odd-looking vehicle with no obvious purpose. Is this true? I drove one in order to find out.
To avoid disappointing people I’ll get the driving stuff out of the way immediately. After three hours on a route that took me from Stansted Airport to almost exactly the dead centre of Britain I had covered every major road type available in England barring gravel and mud. On motorways the Juke in 1.6 litre flavour can keep up with traffic and proceed to license-losing speed and stay at that pace unbothered for as long as you care to Continue reading “2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 Review”
“Building on a new tradition!” In this item, we have something resembling a transcript of a 1967 review by Archie Vicar. He finds much that is agreeable.
By Archibald Vicar From “Today’s Driver”, November 1967. Photographs by Wentworth Henry. Owing to excessive camera-shake affecting the original images, stock photos have been used.
Rumours abound from the Midlands, such as rumours are, that Jaguar is considering replacements for the venerable, nay, antediluvian 240, 340 (née Mark 2), S-type, 420 (née S-type) and 420G (née Mark X) with a range of motor vehicles which will essentially depend on one single body. Our sources in Coventry hint that among the pressing reasons for this change is that nobody at Brown’s Lane understands which car is which or the purpose for which any of them are intended. Continue reading “1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe: Review”
Cute. I’d been hearing it a lot that day. Moose Molloy’s gaze shifted towards the window and his expression changed slowly. It was like watching a landscape erode but, after that eternity had passed, there was a big lake of a smile rippling across his face and, somehow, I knew I was going to hear that C word again.
“Hey Marlowe, is that cute pink Figaro outside yours?”
A guy like Moose was big enough not to need to humiliate you with your choice of wheels, but I thought it best to offer him some clarification.
It might not look dangerous but this car wiped out the dinosaurs.
What is significant about this car is not merely that it exists at all but that it inspired an unheard-of level of loyalty with its customers. Just as it was becoming apparent that buying European was not a guarantee of quality, the Japanese makers were beginning their exploration of exportation.