Nissan's big reveal for this year's Geneva Motor Show is the IMQ Concept, a sharply-sculpted high-riding wagon which the Japanese company says points toward its next generation of crossover vehicles.
And while the IMQ may be a little more prosaic than the bevy of supercars and high-end luxury metal elsewhere on the show floor, it's nevertheless an important one to pay attention to for a different reason: it points toward the next generation Nissan X-Trail.
Boasting design cues that Nissan says “signals the direction of the next generation of crossovers”, the 4.56m-long IMQ Concept is slightly shorter than the current Nissan X-trail, but measures wider from wheelarch to wheelarch.
And, if it's indeed a preview of what's to come, we can expect the next X-Trail to flaunt an even more athletic appearance than the current model, which ditched the boxy offroad-style aesthetics of previous generations in favour of softer curves and a more car-like look.
While it looks low-roofed and sporty from the outside, the IMQ adopts a minimalist approach on the inside. As is typical for concept cars there are just four individual seats rather than a more realistic second-row bench seat, and the high centre tunnel runs beneath the floating dashboard rather than being integrated with it.
An aeroplane-style wheel juts toward the driver, while the all-electronic instrument panel and infotainment display are seamlessly integrated with the dashboard. It certainly looks futuristic, but unlike the exterior design we expect few cues of the IMQ's interior to resurface in Nissan's next generation SUV family.
Its powertrain is a curious one. Though described by Nissan as '100 percent electric drive', that's somewhat misleading. Yes, drive is courtesy of two powerful electric motors (which generate a huge 250kW and 700Nm), however rather than carry a massive battery to provide meaningful range, the IMQ instead uses a smaller battery and a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as an on-board generator. To some, that makes the IMQ more of a hybrid than a genuine electric car.
However, it's a strategy that's in line with what Nissan's luxury arm Infiniti is planning for its first electrified production cars – a strategy that's out of step with the rest of the industry, but one that may pay off if concerns over sufficient supply of battery raw materials like lithium turn out to be true.
Other technological highlights of the IMQ include an augmented-reality system which overlays the location of hidden hazards and street features on the car's windows, along with a further evolution of Nissan's ProPilot semi-autonomous driver assistance tech.
The concept's 22-inch wheels and low-profile Bridgestone tyres are also designed to communicate a broad range of information to the driver, such as grip levels, temperature, load and even how worn they are. Their likelihood of being found in a production Nissan SUV soon? Slim.
The current-generation Nissan X-Trail enters is sixth year of production this year, which is commonly retirement age for most cars. If the IMQ Concept points towards that car's replacement, get prepared for the X-Trail to head in a significantly more stylish – and potentially performance-oriented - direction.
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