By on May 22, 2015

Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept

Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx.

That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z.

While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview in Nashville, Tennessee, we had a chance to prod Loing on what could be the future of IDx considering its overwhelmingly positive reception in Tokyo and Detroit.

Nissan IDx Freeflow / IDx NISMO

“IDX is an interesting project; a show car that received good reception. But, to go from concept to production, the reality always kicks in,” Loing said about the future of IDx as we saw it revealed in Tokyo.

The reality is auto manufacturers are finding it difficult – or impossible – to build a small, rear-wheel drive performance vehicle and make money. Either a current platform, like that of the 370Z, needs to be shrunk down, or a whole new platform needs to be engineered to serve one niche vehicle.

2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Unfortunately, at least for Nissan, the 370Z platform isn’t an option.

“Small, sporty cars are very attractive for consumers but not in huge numbers. To do them properly – in our case – you can’t rely on an existing rear-wheel drive platform, because its dimensions are for a much larger powertrain. So, for us, it would mean developing a different rear-wheel drive platform and then we are bumping into the same obstacles every other automaker has: the volumes of a small, sporty car are not enough to justify the investment,” said Loing.

With the current Z doing quite well, at least in the eyes of Nissan as top-dollar NISMO models make up nearly 20 percent of units sold, going down-market is going against the market. Also, based on Loing’s remarks about size, it doesn’t look like we will be getting a smaller Z car next time around.

But, since it was the IDx’s design garnering the most attention, could it transfer to something else?

“It wouldn’t be the same design because, of course, the proportions are based on a rear-wheel drive platform,” Loing explained. “But that kind of retro 510 inspired design was very well received in Japan and in the U.S. (when Nissan debuted in Tokyo and Detroit), and to some extent in Europe as well. So, yeah, that could be an option – among other ones, it could be an option.

“I think we may still have some room (to add a retro-inspired car). We have a wide lineup.”

And with the new Maxima pumping out 300 horsepower to the front wheels alone, a FWD performance compact is possible.

Renault Megane RS 275

“If you look at the Alliance, Renault has some extremely strong front-wheel drive cars that are very sporty; Megane RenaultSport, for example, holds the front-wheel drive record on the Nurburgring. So, yes, it is possible within the limitations of front-wheel drive today.”

But, is that something Nissan is considering? Loing held his cards close to his vest.

“You will have to come back in a few years to see if it has materialized or not. *laughs* But, we do show cars to test reactions all the time, so those reactions are included in the debate on future global products. Sometimes they will be the deciding factor to go one way or another. Sometimes they won’t.”

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46 Comments on “Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform...”


  • avatar

    Dodge Challenger SRT HELLCAT NISMO edition.

  • avatar
    ceolwulf

    The obvious solution is to use a FWD platform.

    And put it behind the driver.

    (I want a new MR2 and at this point I don’t even care who builds it …)

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Nissan could use the mid-engine, rear wheel drive platform from the new Renault Twingo.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think that might add a lot of complexity (and price) and scare people off. Mid-engine says “problems and difficult servicing” to a lot of people. It’s also more difficult from a packaging standpoint, and using the development for other cars.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          The US pricing for the new 2016 Smart Fortwo that shares its mid-engine, rear wheel drive platform with the Renault Twingo is $15,680.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh it’s THAT small. I was thinking Clio sized. Would a platform that small even work for a coupe like this?

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            It’s not going to be possible to pull off the 510/Silvia aesthetic with the Renault Twingo platform (which has a longer wheelbase than the Fortwo and four seats).

            But with the Twingo it would be possible for Nissan to carry those cars on in spirit with a cheap 4-seat rear wheel drive car.

            The specs for the Twingo, in terms of power and weight, are fairly close to the 510 and initial Sivia.

          • 0 avatar
            daniel g.

            Mr. Racer what about dacia duster platform? Is 2wd/4wd also, how far is in dimensions and specs from the megane?
            Check the renault catalog Mr. Nissan, don’t be blind or japanese fundamentalist.
            Or the renault/samsung fluence platform? In Argentina renault sell a sport version (the first manufacture outside of france with the renault sport signature)

            No More excuses Nissan, mazda continue the miata successfully, toyota whant learn how to do it from the concept to the final product and you what? Not always is money the answer

  • avatar

    I appreciate that he acknowledged that being FWD would ruin the proportions. So we might end up with another Scion tC?

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Well, we did have the NX and 200SX in the 90s, both of which were alright for their time (especially the 2.0L versions).

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        They were indeed just “alright”. I never could get past the fact that they were still just lowly Sentras. I guy I worked with at the time actually called his 200SX a “sports car”.

  • avatar

    tC vs FR-S sales to validate the lack of initiative to invest in a low-margin, low-dollar niche platform.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s exactly what I was going to bring up. This is a problem all the auto makers are facing and the reason why GM just nixed its FR-S killer.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Frankly I think we’re lucky Toyota makes something with even the modest sporting intent of the tC in the $20k range. And there it’s with a fully amortized chassis (Avensis), a fully amortized power train (Camry), and even a fully amortized stereo (GX or something). You can tell the parts unique to the tC because they are the ones you can remove with your bare hands.

      I wonder whether they’ll re-design the tC at all, or just drop the big-inch Four into the iM.

    • 0 avatar
      daniel g.

      Hi Flybrian is to hard a FWD cheap version for the masses and RWD NISMO version? Toyota in the 80′ don’t sell the same car/strategy(from the outside, you dirty corolla Ae86) and was ok? Juke platform is not already proved and good to do this?
      When they present the idx the strategy looks very similar…

  • avatar

    Nuuuuuuuuuuuuu! *sobs*

    While I’m disappointed the IDx won’t be in the showroom now, I’m a bit glad there won’t be another retro-esque model.

    What happened to wedges and weird futuristic cars, anyway? Can we go back to the future now?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Yeah, why is it that all three of the domestic ponycars are stuck in 1969?

      Look at the current Corvette, it looks modern, but still looks like a Corvette. Can we do that with the ponycars?

      • 0 avatar

        The Charger is a third of the way out of the past with its new face, but the rest is still stuck in the wormhole. Further, I actually like the 300M over the Bentley-esque lead sled in showrooms now.

        But still, I want more futuristic designs, especially those not tied to the past. The upcoming Ford GT seems to be a step in the right direction, for one example.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Because the aging baby boomers who actually have money for new pony cars want something that reminds them of the peak-pony days of their youth.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Wow, totally didn’t see that coming. Look at the shock on my face.

    Best bet is probably a more aggressive Juke NISMO to do battle with the likes of the Focus RS, Golf R etc. That Juke R was pretty mean and looked like a ton of fun.

    • 0 avatar

      They already have the Juke NISMO and Juke NISMO RS. Sentra NISMO is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point. But, it would be nice to see something else … a dedicated coupe or hatchback, mayhaps? … below 370Z, even if it’s driving the front wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        I’m already giving the 2016 Civic Si/Type R the hairy eyeball, a NISMO Sentra would definitely make me want to go back to Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Better FWD small sporty coupes than no small sporty coupes. Besides, doesn’t the VW GTI prove that front drive can be fun?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Didn’t know about the NISMO RS… it’s nowhere near enough to go up against the likes of the Focus RS though. Needs 100 more HP and real transmissions to operate with its 4WD system… a 6MT and a 7DCT.

        Nissan’s non Z/GT-R performance offerings are pretty weak. Their best performance car besides those is probably the V6 Altima, but that is a car with more motor than chassis (bleh). People complain about Honda falling off the wagon but I would argue Nissan fell off worse.

  • avatar

    I think the right answer here would have been to put this body design on the Altima coupe platform. The vast majority of the marketplace could care less what wheels get driven and priced in the mid-twenties this cute little car would have drawn a lot of people into Nissan’s show rooms. Being on a little larger platform would have been nice and the upright, easy to see out of design would have been really refreshing.

    The Nismo version could have been an aero package, a little lower stance, a better tuned suspension and a few extra horses. Not a sports car, but a good old fashioned sporty coupe for the budget-minded masses.

  • avatar
    jco

    “IDx is dead”

    .. *lays down on floor* ..

    “FWD”

    .. *cry* .. *whimper*

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I had already made peace with the IDx not happening and now you open that wound again!

    If they’re going FWD, may I suggest they take a VERY LONG look at the B13 SE-R and do whatever is in their power to clone it for the present day. That car was sublime and I know Nissan has enough smart people to make this happen.

  • avatar
    John R

    He makes sense; the 86s are struggling.

    Hopefully this means North Americans can get their hands on those lovely Megane RenaultSports badged as a Sentra SE-R’s.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    AAAAAAH!

    This is the car I wanted to buy, and as Sammy B said, I was at peace with its non-birth until you opened the wound again. Great interview, BTW; I appreciate Mr Loing’s honesty about the realities of the business decision.

    Personally, I don’t think the IDx needs to be a performance car. I was hoping for a 1.8L RWD sedan, 26/35 mpg, $21-26k. But it would certainly be a niche vehicle (particularly as a 2-door coupe), and 20k sales per year (just looking at FRS and BRZ sales) probably won’t pay the bills for all new tooling. It makes me wonder anew whether Nissan is really making money on the Leaf.

    If they could add (electronically, of course) the timing chain whine of an old 810, that would be a bonus.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      And why does it have to be tiny? They have a not-that-big sized G-RWD platform they can use (I mean look at the EX it’s not that big) and could put this body style on it.

      Call it a Fairlady, and give it a 4-cyl or whatever so it won’t compete too hard with Infiniti or the Z.

      Easy peasy.

  • avatar
    probert

    FWD and proportions- sounds like shite. The Lancia Fuvia had similar proportions. Apart from the faux angry font clip, this would be a very sweet car.

    • 0 avatar
      theonewhogotaway

      close :)

      That one is a pretty blatant copy of the Lancia Beta Coupe (Fulvia’s successor), here in street clothes.

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Lancia_Beta_Coupe_-_Flickr_-_tonylanciabeta.jpg

      Fiat should have been all over that…

  • avatar

    I’m not sure I like the face, but the rest is a nice piece of automotive art.

  • avatar
    TNJed

    If there’s no business case for a modern 510, what about a modern SE-R, more akin to the original ’91-94 version instead of the chubby, flaccid Sentra they sell now? A more traditional three box, upright profile, in 2 and 4 door form, like the old Sentra, but updated as if Nissan had shown the same design restraint that VW has with the Golf over the years.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The miss here was not using the IDx as an opportunity to develop a new compact RWD architecture that could be shared with a downsized Z.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Very true. Nissan could really use a NISMO Sentra or Juke to fight the Focus and GTI. However not making an affordable RWD vehicle makes me wonder how much longer before the Z dies… again.

  • avatar
    omer333

    As great as a NISMO/SE-R Sentra would be, making the Sentra as good as the Mazda3 would be great.

    LUDICROUS SPEED hot-hatches are great, but give us a car that can get out of its own way and is a nice thing to look at and sit in, and then you’ve got something.

  • avatar

    It could be a good modern BMW SUV. It already looks like BMW. Why not to base it on BMW 3 series?

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    I think it’s high time Nissan built a modernized ’84 Toyota Celica GT2000.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Doubt how much cheaper it can be compared to BMW 2 series.
    And my old memories of late 90s Japanese street recalls, kids in cheaply modified Silvia’s drifting and bumping into everything possible with no insurance. I don’t want them return.


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