Nissan reveals edgy Extrem concept in Brazil

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Do you like what you see? Considering that one of the bestselling vehicles in Brazil is the Ford Ecosport, a stylish yet inexpensive compact crossover, Nissan's Extrem concept is probably what it needs to grow sales in South America's largest economy.

The brand hopes to increase its market share from nearly 2-percent to more than 5-percent by 2014, only two years from now, much due to a new plant opening in Rio de Janeiro state that will see more cars made available to Nissan's dealer body free from the burden of heavy import tariffs.

Nissan isn't saying whether the new concept will be one of the eight new models it plans to release within the next four years, at which point it will give its brand name a lot of newfound attention by being the official automotive sponsor for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Extrem, or something similar in concept, could indeed give the company a firmer footing to build on.

"We have created Extrem to show how serious we are about Brazil," said Christian Meunier, President of Nissan Brazil. "Extrem is provocative, energetic and engaging and it reflects the passion, innovation and excitement we put into all our cars."

While Meunier's enthusiasm for his brand is commendable, the Extrem concept should be able to stir a great deal more passion and excitement amongst Sao Paulo motor show attendees than the base Versa sedan that will share the Nissan stand. The Extrem has been designed with the Brazilian market in mind, even receiving a "deep metallic orange" paint job with "radiant highlights" that Nissan calls "Solar Cortex", Nissan adding that the colour pays homage to Brazilian nature, whatever that means. At least they didn't paint it in Brazil's national yellow and green.

"Extrem, with a dynamic, high-character design, is far from conservative," said Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer. "It was created to appeal to the country's growing band of city-based young professionals who are passionate about design and want to make a personal statement. The lightweight two-door 2+2 has a dynamic stance, fresh surfacing, and a clear rugged ability to tackle the urban jungle everyday."

While the Extrem might be ideal for Brazil's urban jungle, one of the reasons lightweight crossover SUVs do so well in this vast country is that roads outside of the main cities aren't in very good repair, and therefore vehicle's with a taller ride height and the option of all- or four-wheel drive make rough roads more accessible. This in mind, the Juke would be ideal for the Brazilian market, although it's clear that Nissan is going for a slightly sportier crowd with the more coupe-like Extrem.

"We call it Baby Beast," said Robert Bauer, Senior Design Manager for the project at NDA in California. "We see it as an urban rally car, a tough little street fighter that can handle the urban jungle with agility and confidence."

Confidence isn't quite the right word, though. No, the Extrem is pure aggression. If you put a Lamborghini badge on it people might think the Italian brand had gone a bit too far, but then again Hyundai has shown that its innovative Veloster coupe successfully appeals to a similar target market that Nissan is shooting for with its Extrem, although this take on the two-door coupe format is even more masculine in its demeanor. It takes the highly successful BMW X6 formula, but shrinks it down a couple of sizes and adds affordability for the masses.

The Extrem rides on Nissan's V-platform that also underpins the brand's March super-mini, although it has been lengthened to 3,850 mm, widened to 1,765 mm, and is taller at 1,530 mm. The only measurement that doesn't change is its 2,450-mm wheelbase, allowing for 2+2 seating and a sizeable cargo hold.

That luggage compartment offers up a unique two-tier cargo system that hides valuables under an exposed and removable cargo bin. Hiding valuables is critical in Sao Paulo, which suffers from a higher than average crime rate.

Under its elongated hood is Nissan's direct-injection, turbocharged (DIG-T) 1.6-litre gasoline engine that the automaker is quick to point out is shared with its DeltaWing Le Mans race car. It's more familiar to us as the top-line engine offered in our Juke, a car that comes in front-wheel drive as well as with a sophisticated torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system that would ideally suit the Extrem. No doubt the six-spoke 19-inch alloy rims, double layered with a "dark inner and brushed metal outer" design, aid in performance on and off the road.

To enhance forward vision the Extrem features transparent A pillars, similar in design to Volvo's 2001 Safety Car Concept. The rest of the car's design is Robocop meets Judge Dread.

"The combination of innovative elements such as the wraparound glass, floating roof rails and detached C pillars enhance the feeling of an open, airy cabin," says Nissan. "Overlapping panels and unique surface interplays create a feeling of layered armored toughness."

The uniquely shaped headlamps and taillights feature LEDs, of course, those in the rear boasting "layered fins" that showcase "an airy, lightweight structure", says Nissan. Underneath, the designers have incorporated a robust aluminum skid plate to add visual strength and house the centrally mounted exhaust system. Overall it's a strong design statement that could easily come from a premium brand.

"Extrem suggests that exotic and exciting design need not just be reserved for expensive cars," added Nakamura. "It shows that innovative, sophisticated design can be made in a clever, attainable way. Extrem is one of our answers to this possibility and it opens an exciting new chapter in our design relationship with Brazil."

The Extrem could work just as easily in North America as it may in South America, or other markets for that matter. No doubt Nissan will be judging reaction at the 27th annual Sao Paulo International Motor Show, which is just opening to the public now, before deciding how much of the concept's design makes its way into future models. If reaction is strong enough, who knows? The company that brought us the radical Juke and oddball Cube could just as easily bring an Extrem to market, and while it has been designed for Brazil, our party-loving amigos to the south shouldn't get to have all the fun, should they? Não. Como autor amado Paulo Coelho faria diz, compartilhar o amor meus amigos. At least for eleven minutes. Stay tuned.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Nissan, 2012, Extrem Concept, Brazil,

Geographic location: Brazil

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