Nissan's president and CEO, Makoto Uchida, recently paid a visit to NDE in London to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary there by revealing the brand-new Nissan Concept 20-23, a sporty urban electric concept car.
The new Concept 20-23 was unveiled on a floating barge anchored just outside NDE on the Paddington Basin section of the Grand Union canal, an integral element of the distinctive and fascinating landscape that surrounds NDE.
Modernizing tiny vehicle playfulness reflects internet racing and Nissan's Formula E participation. The Concept 20-23's basic 3-door hatchback body type has significant aerodynamic addenda front and rear, with deep skirts that divert airflow away from the front, via brake cooling apertures, and out through vents behind the front wheels.
The car has a flat nose that curves up to the hood, giving the front a clean look. These are the front headlights, which have a thin top and lower semi-circle and a crisp LED beam. The semi-circle LED unit includes the turn signal.
They make the Concept 20-23's front look approachable despite its sophisticated airflow shapes. Extended wheel arches hide huge wheels with low-profile tyres, giving the car muscle from the side. Ventilated louvres on the front and rear wheel arches reduce air resistance in the wheel bay.
Curved wheel arches end abruptly at the lower door, where angular intersections outline the air outlet behind the front wheel. Air cools the rear brakes through the same angular slits on the wheel arches. Extended skirts hug the car's lower body.
At the rear, a big single-piece spoiler flows smoothly from the roof rail, with endplates that curve from near vertical near the c-pillar to the angled horizontal downforce generator. The rear spoiler doesn't impair rear visibility, unlike other sports vehicles.
Like the front, each rear light has a thin upper and lower semi-circle LED that contrasts with the squared off lower portion, which is fiercely functional to manage airflow and maximize downforce as air escapes from under the car. The car's full width is underlined by a horizontal bar below a soft smile that marks the rear hatchback.
The roof has a tiny air intake where it meets the windscreen header to ventilate passengers. To match its harsh environment, the outside grey paint has a rough surface that seems like it was hewn from a single piece of metal. The car's back three-quarters display the company number 23.
The Concept 20-23 car type is merely an outside model, but the interior designers built a sporty interior. The entrance is via two scissor doors that hinge upward from the A-pillar foundation.
The driver and passenger must step over a foam-padded brace bar to reach their seats. The two deep bucket seats provide strong support without sacrificing comfort. They have racing car-style headrests and a near-white gloss.
After positioning, the driver sees a lengthy steering column with a rectangular sports steering wheel with many controls and adjustments. Adjustable electric powertrain paddles and switches are at your fingertips behind the wheel.
A carbon-fibre mount bolts to the steering column from the base of the central console's big hole. Two metal beams bolted to the car's floor-mounted "spine" hold the centre console between the two seats. Fire extinguishers are positioned under the brace bars. A racing car's basic functionality is envisioned in the interior. Like real racing cars like Nissan's Formula E contender, online racing simulators have only a few screens showing critical information with few distractions.
This is a rather striking layout, wouldn't you say? And perhaps a hint that Nissan plans to give its designers more leeway in the next era of electric vehicles?
Nissan has not made much headway towards its goal of offering an entirely electrified portfolio by the end of the decade. Although Nissan was an early player in the electric car industry with the Nissan Leaf (which may soon be retired), the company has not showed much EV advancement beyond the Ariya SUV, which is good but very dull and safe. Let's hope that the company actually delivers on its promise of new electric vehicles and not simply more concept convertibles.