When the North American International Auto Show opens its doors in a couple of weeks, Nissan will be showcasing a trio of new concepts to the world. The IDx Freeflow and IDx NISMO will be there along with an all-new, never-before-seen concept which Nissan has given no name other than the descriptive, if unimaginative, Nissan Sport Sedan Concept.
In a three-paragraph press release with the above teaser photo attached, Nissan promised the sedan as an "advanced look at a future production sports sedan." It is to embody the next-generation of Nissan design signatures and will debut officially at a press conference on January 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm EST.
Of that three paragraphs, outside of the above information, only one paragraph really describes the car. From this, though, we can draw a few conclusions. Nissan says:
The Sport Sedan Concept previews a new energetic design direction that amplifies Nissan's legendary approach of applying sports car principles to a sedan. The IDx Freeflow and IDx NISMO's innovative, eye-catching designs offer two different approaches to a next-generation compact vehicle – one expressing a casual, lifestyle-focused vision and the other an ultra-sporty design that looks as if it came directly from a driving video game.
Noting the continued references to the IDx vehicles throughout the press release that was supposed to be about this new sports sedan, we can deduce something: this will (sort of) be a third version of an IDx, but one that isn't the Datsun 510 homage that the IDx vehicles are. Those blocky throwback designs, as great-looking as they are, aren't reflected in the above teaser at all. Instead, we see a more contemporary hood line with a Rogue/Juke/Versa-like deep swoop to the grille.
We have to make guesses outside of those known facts, but we can do so with some education simply by looking at the competitive market and where Nissan may see gaps.
This concept is listed as a "sports sedan" and the continued references to the IDx twins may mean the car is on the same basic platform and thus would be compact as well. Right now, Nissan's compact lineup of sports offerings includes the Z platform and little else. These are relatively expensive vehicles compared to high-selling newcomers like the Toyobarus (Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ). It should also be noted that Nissan's current and prolifically-selling Sentra compact no longer has the SE-R specs for sport enthusiasts as of the 2013 revamp.
That should make the market position of this new Sport Sedan Concept relatively obvious. To make it a mid-sized sedan would mean it competes directly with the already-astute Altima 3.5 and Infiniti G37/Q50 (which is due for a redesign anyway). We can say that this concept is not likely to be the new design for the Q50 simply because it's being introduced under the Nissan marquee rather than the Infiniti brand. It would be out of character and a possible marketing faux pas otherwise.
So.. the empty space is in the compact sedan market where Nissan currently has no low-priced sport offerings and could potentially compete with the Ford Focus ST and Toyobarus. This would mean a sub-$25k sedan with a sporty mix of engine power and trim. Speculating here, we can assume that the 1.8L DOHC used in the Sentra could be souped up to suffice for this - they managed to get it up to 215 hp for the Juke NISMO RS, after all, so asking for just 180 or more horses isn't much.
Add to that the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Nissan has nearly perfected and is the undisputed master of and you have a winning package. Decent fuel economy and sporty performance. Add in some suspension tuning learned thanks to the work with the GT-R and NISMO teams and you've got it made.
Now what to call it? That, I'll leave up to you. If you had a new compact sports sedan with these basic specs and were competing with the Toyobarus and the like, what would you call it? Let us know in the comments below.