When it comes to the world of auto concept debuts, it’s usually best to approach each announcement with at least a mild level of skepticism. Getting your hopes up for a concept that may be radically different by the time it hits production – if it even hits production at all – can be frustrating when it happens time and time again.
However, Nissan, a Japanese brand and the sixth-largest automaker on the globe, has a history of limited concept announcements. Therefore it has avoided the sour reputation of stringing car enthusiasts along; teasing us with prototypes that never end up seeing the light of day (I’m looking at you, Toyota FT-1). Preferring to hit the ground running–or rolling, as one might hope–Nissan tends to announce their new vehicles after they’ve already gone to production.
A Change of Tune
Such is not the case with the IDx. Perhaps wanting to cash in on buzz from bloggers and motor enthusiasts, Nissan unveiled their new coupe with flair at the 43rd Tokyo Auto Show back in December.
Two versions of the same concept went on to appear at the Detroit Auto Show last month. The first version, dubbed the Freeflow, had a small, 1.2-1.5 liter engine and angular “wing” mirrors mounted on the hood. The flashier Nismo looks more reminiscent of a racecar, with sporty stripes and numbers on the side and rounded, aerodynamic wing mirrors. Its engine was a little stronger, coming in at 1.6 liters. Both feature LED headlights and flashy interiors; gold to match the Freeflow and an intense bright red to suit the spirit of the Nismo.
What’s interesting to note, as Nissan’s press release points out, is that when viewed from the front or back, the IDx looks compact and recognizable as a “real car.” However, when viewed from the side, the deep inward angles of the front and rear bumpers are revealed.
Built to Suit Two Distinct Audiences
Jonny Lieberman of Motor Trend got to take a quick test drive around the Motor Trend parking lot, and he’s really excited about the two concepts. He sees the Freeflow, with its smaller engine and already compact size, catering to people who love driving “cute cars” such as the Mini Cooper. The Nismo, on the other hand, would appeal greatly to serious enthusiasts, with its roaring engine, sleek angles and racing stripes.
Nissan seems to agree, billing the Freeflow as reflecting a “casual/lifestyle focused vision,” with a color that channels the classic pairing of a white t-shirt and khakis. The company describes the Nismo as “ultra-sporty,” modernizing the Nissan racing vehicles of yesteryear.
The concept was built to compete with two flashy sports cars recently put on the market by Toyota and Subaru: the Toyota GT 86 and the Subaru BRZ. Both are super-charged coupes powered by 2-liter engines with some aerodynamic angles, though nothing quite like the boxy angles of the Nissan IDx Nismo.
So When Can We Buy It?
The vice president of Nissan, Andy Palmer, expressed enthusiasm for the two designs at the Detroit show, explaining that while the company might be able to do both (and it might not), it will definitely be producing at least one of them. He hopes the exciting designs will get younger generations excited about cars again, drawing customers away from boring-but-reliable brands like Honda. Nissan estimates the cars could be available in about 2016.
However, as of this writing, neither one of the plans have yet been submitted for production, leaving fans clinging to whatever shred of hope they can muster. Good luck, Nissan IDx.