The automotive niche for affordable and stylish sport coupe is a peculiar one. To develop and market an affordable sports coupe is a bold statement on part of the manufacturer. A statement that has to do with public relations as well. You see, it is never too lucrative of a project, since the volumes of production remain low. Still, a sports coupe is a lifestyle thing and should it get a warm reception, it will acquire a following. This seemingly alters the overall perception of the company and the response it gets from the enthusiast crowd and young consumers. One could presume this phenomenon to generate certain spillover effects, which are then felt through the sales of new automobiles, as well as resale values and ‘cool status’ of other offerings in a manufacturer’s line-up.
The Case of Mazda
Responsiveness of handling has been a marked feature of not only Mazda’s advertising, but also engineering, including more sophisticated front suspension setups that heralded the advent of the front-wheel-drive Mazda 6 and the ‘Zoom-zoom’ promo campaign. The latter has been capturing the essence of Mazda’s passion for reliable engineering and dynamism, as well as the company’s visionary talent to produce and market one of the most popular and affordable roadsters in history. One could argue that the cult following status that MX-5 grew into, changed the image of Mazda Motor company and prompted young buyers to acquire or hold on to other offerings from the company’s line-up, like the more modern Mazda 3. In recent years, Mazda 3 has been continuously relieving Honda Civic of it’s ‘hot hatch crown’.
Is this effect desirable for the manufacturer? You bet it is. Is this an opportunity to create and foster brand loyalty? Most definitely. Could it be attributable to the fact that throughout the years Mazda managed to keep being ‘the hot it’ for a good part of the automotive enthusiast community? Quality socioeconomic research would be well poised to measure the spillover effects and answer this question. For now, we’re free to reason and presume.
But What About Nissan?
Yes, Nissan is a company that makes its presence continuously felt with professional and amateur motorsports. Not only that, but Nissan’s top of the line sports cars are inherently complex and incredibly well engineered. At the same time, Nissan’s last historic entry in the affordable sport coupe market, 240SX – was discontinued in 1998. Unlike the simple naturally aspirated Mazda MX-5, 240SX always made use of a turbocharger and a sophisticated multi-link suspension in the back, inherited from Nissan’s super-car dominating, all wheel drive beast ‘GT-R’. One could say it was this heritage of technical sophistication and know-how that made the 240SX such a popular choice for drifting, the scene it has dominated ever since. Will the new IDx be borrowing from the current GT-R is still to be seen, but the possibility is definitely there.
Needless to say that throughout the years there’s been a keen interest in a successor to 240SX in a niche that had been quite dormant, at least, up until the arrival of Toyota GT86 in 2012. Nevertheless, judging from Tokyo and Detroit Motor Shows and Nissan’s eye-catching IDx concept, things might just change.
Nissan IDx Freeflow/Nismo
Nissan makes it clear that the newly presented IDx is a modern take on the legendary Datsun Bluebird 510 [Datsun – Nissan’s former brand name from 1958 to 1986]. This allows for a certain element of romanticism and nostalgia, which in terms of design and celebration of the car culture is always a good thing. No wonder, retro-futurism is a popular theme these days as more designers are looking for inspiration into the past, bringing forth a bit of that aesthetically fulfilling automotive history and heritage.
BRE Datsun Racing Team
With that in mind, Datsun 510 certainly is a part of that legacy and the twin side stripes on the IDx Nismo car are a tribute to the car’s brilliant racing history and, most notably, its famous poster child – the #46 BRE Datsun 510. Being the single car entered by Datsun and Brock Racing Enterprises into the Trans Am Series in 1971, #46, piloted by John Morton, took the championship home after a close season of battling three racing spec Alfa Romeo GTAs. The BRE Datsun Racing Team relived their success in 1972, this time entering three cars into the competition.
Ying and Yang of 510
Noteably, racing pedigree is not the only thing 510 is known for. As a matter of fact, Datsun 510 was a perfectly balanced car in all respects, having earned a moniker of a ‘poor man’s BMW’ among contemporary automotive reviewers. Some of the reasonably priced models were complete with twin Hitachi side-draft carburetors which were a smaller version of the British SU design used on Jaguars and MGs. Thus, Datsun 510 combined the latest technological features with a reasonable price, exceptional reliability and great fuel economy. Responsiveness of handling was the incing on the Datsun 510’s cake. The same goes for reserved yet stylish European design, coined by Nissan’s own Teruo Uchino.
Retro Futuristic Treatment of the New IDx
Just like the present-day English Minis, as well as Italy’s new Fiat 500, US’ recent favorite Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro designs, the visual cues of the new Nissan IDx are a nod to a different, maybe a simpler era, when cars, though stylish were just cars. The stunning IDx Freeflow looks to embrace this aesthetic and captures this vibe with its three box styling, 510 derived headlights (for the IDx Freeflow) and a minimum of technology featured on the center console, basically including just a few HVAC switches and analogue-style gauges.
What Is The Future of Nissan’s IDx Concept?
Will IDx live to be embraced by automotive enthusiasts, as well as a broader consumer? It sure looks promising and according to Andy Palmer, Chief Planning Officer at Nissan, these are not just a pair of concepts and one of the rear-wheel-drive coupes will make it to production as early as 2016. We certainly wish Nissan the best in its extraordinary effort and hope IDx will find a way into the hearts of car-savvy consumers worldwide. So far the response to this vehicle has been absolutely phenomenal.
NB Images courtesy of autoblog.com