The Nissan Global Sedan called the ‘Sunny’ was launched today (August 3rd, 2011) in Mumbai and Riot Engine prides in bringing you the design story.
That, definitely doesn’t sound easy. Designers at Nissan produced numerous full scale mock-ups of the global sedan and spent time in the seats, and tried different variations of the roof shape and packaging, just to ensure the cabin felt airy and spacious. Well, that’s a start to getting close to perfection.
It doesn’t end there, and neither does it start there. The design and development of the Nissan Global Sedan Sunny started here, in the streets of Delhi and Mumbai. “We visited New Delhi and Mumbai. The road conditions were bad, and it was very dusty because of the ongoing urban renewal. Small cars were speeding by in groups in the haze, rather like cars in a Formula One race. I felt strongly determined to design a car that would stand out in such situation in order to play a winning game.” says Mitsunori Morita, who was in charge of exterior design for this car. The bit about cars speeding like its F1 season all day long is something we get, but the latter part about designing a car that can be picked out of the blurry haze of wheels is something we might have to delve into deeper.
Design requirement number one, and we bring this information to you straight from Nissan, the car needed to have a distinct character that would allow it to standout even in an unwashed, dusty condition. Nothing can convince us better that this was a car designed for the Indian market!
Nissan believes the usage and needs of a sedan car vary by country and region and based on its research they have concluded that in China a sedan is a status symbol, and that in India it is primarily a means of transportation for the chauffeured businessman. Now, we are a bit skeptical when it comes to surveys that think they can generalize a population as diverse and complicated as that in India. This one is no different. How a sedan is perceived in India is something that definitely cannot be stated in one sentence, but then again, a sedan designed for the businessman in the rear seat, priced competitively with the likes of Maruti Suzuki DZire and the Tata Manza, should work for the rest of the population.
“I knew that nondescript proportions would not do to create a car that would be marketable worldwide. A distinctive rear deck that describes the concept of “sedan-ness” was necessary for this car. I wanted to maintain a good balance between such conventional points and some forward-looking design to realize a new type of sedan car.” explains Morita.
The exterior design of the Nissan Sunny is described by Morita as “a design integrating a wide, robust, horizontal-based lower body and an elegant but dynamic upper body.” The distinct features include a character line inspired by human muscles that runs along the side of the body but disappears around the B pillar.
“It’s one of the highlights of this car, and I was inspired by human muscles. I wanted to express a sculptural image of strong muscles hidden under a smooth skin. On the other hand, I definitely wanted to avoid expressing dynamism through the wedge shape,” Morita states flatly.
The new Hyundai Verna as well as the new Ford Fiesta are cars that have been soaked to their gills in the wedge-shape-expresses-dynamism philosophy and they aren’t bad lookers, are they? Going by the number of the new Hyundai Vernas on the road already, it would seem the wedge shape definitely finds appeal with the Indian palate.
Nissan though has decided to shun the wedge shape and traded it in for a ‘horizontal-based design, developed for the lower part of the body across the body width to give it a feeling of stateliness’. In the mind of this writer, all that translates to trying to dress up this compact sedan in the clothes of ‘stately’ luxo-barges ala the BMW 7-Series, which has a straight and minimal belt line.
“It’s a middle-class compact sedan car, but I wanted give it the most mature presence with a dignified elegance in this class.” says Morita.
Nissan lays emphasis on the the character line that goes around the rear part of the body when observed from the top and the beautiful curve of the roof. Perception of a the cabin as being spacious is supported by the lines from the rear seat eye point that do not obstruct a wide view.
Nissan says the rear seat knee room of the Sunny is actually wider by 100mm compared to the competition, achieving the spaciousness of an upper class sedan. We aren’t exactly sure whether the competition mentioned here is that of the Versa in the United States, or the Japanese rivals of the sedan, we’ll have to wait for the test drive for a clarification.
“It needs to be physically spacious, but it’s also important to be visually spacious. And that gives designers a great chance to show their skills. We continued to re-design and retry the mockup to achieve, uncompromisingly, the kind of spaciousness that our customers could feel in their hearts,” Morita commented, beaming with pride.
Hiroyuki Amagi, in charge of the Interior Design for the car explained the inspiration that led to the sparkling meters courtesy of the 0.5mm pyramids around the dial.
“There’s always a cover at the front of the meter too, so you can’t actually touch the meters and dials inside. Our design idea started there, with the possibility of comparing it to jewelry in a showcase.”
Again, nothing was decided upon the first trial. “We asked the model maker to provide us with various samples to achieve that spatial effect of sparkling precious stones, a crystal-like image. A slight change in the face pattern affects its attractiveness.” says Amagi. Various models were tried and finally a choice was made, to get this beautiful effect. For Hiroyuki Amagi and Nissan, it was all about the details.
“When driving at night, a woman in the passenger’s seat will notice the sparkles in the instrument panel. I hope that will provide a pleasant surprise while enjoying a drive.”
We will leave you to ponder over that statement and arrive at whatever entertaining conclusion that you think is appropriate, or not.
Amagi, also is the man behind the silvery bits in the sedan’s cabin. Having to work within a fixed budget for the interiors, Amagi decided on a color not unlike deep gloss of an oxidized silver pot, but with spatial effect that renders the surfaces exquisite under light.
Just to recall why the hype around the V-Platform, the V-Platform is versatile enough to accommodate, without development or cost or any weight inefficiencies, customer requirements of all global markets whether RHD, LHD, diesel, petrol, Euro 3 to 6, and all worldwide crash test requirements including the US, EU and Japan. The Nissan Micra is the hatchback built on the V-Platform, the Global Sedan to be launched in India on August 3rd, 2011 known elsewhere as the Sunny/Versa is the sedan and a possibility of an MPV in the near future cannot be ruled out.
More info on the V-Platform here.
Riot Engine also was one of the first automotive magazines to have very clear pictures of the Nissan Sunny, caught testing.