Nissan Kicks Concept makes its debut ahead of 2014 Sao Paulo Motor Show [w/video]

Article by Andrew Christian, on October 28, 2014

Nissan officially unveiled the all-new Kicks Concept ahead of 2014 Sao Paulo Motor Show, a new compact crossover that takes its inspiration from the streets of Brazil and designed for its people. Developed by Nissan Design America in San Diego, the concept previews a new vehicle that will be slotted below the Juke.

The photo shows that the new Kicks Concept arrives with a roofline similar to the one featured by the Juke, but the front design shows the V-shaped front grille, while the enlarged front and rear fenders underline the off-road capabilities.

Moreover, the Kicks Concept is 4.3 m long, 1.8 m wide and has a height of 1.6 m.

“The main inspiration for this concept was the contrast that we saw in the grey tones of the urban settings in São Paulo and the bright natural colors that we saw near our studio in Rio,” said Robert Bauer, Chief Designer at the Rio studio. “How to combine these two, the more grey urban tones with the bright sunset orange that we would see – this combination we thought was really uniquely Brazilian.” [source: Nissan]

Press Release

Nissan Kicks Concept

Nissan Brazil debuted the bold new Nissan Kicks Concept at the 2014 São Paulo International Motor Show, Latin America's largest and most prestigious motor show. The Kicks compact urban crossover concept is the second Nissan design exploration created exclusively for the Brazilian market, following the radical Nissan Extrem Concept that was one of the centerpieces of the 2012 São Paulo show.

"The new Nissan Kicks Concept takes the Nissan Extrem from pure fantasy to a market position that is a little closer to reality - and possibly toward a future production vehicle," said Nissan Brazil President François Dossa. "While the exaggerated form of Extrem, as the name suggests, was all about fun, the Kicks Concept adds elements of robustness and security that are highly appropriate for today's fast-moving Brazilian professionals."

Kicks Concept and Creation

Under the leadership of Global Design Center in Japan, the concept behind, and creation of, the Kicks Concept was a collaboration between Nissan Design America (NDA) in San Diego, California and Nissan Design America Rio (NDA-R), Nissan's recently opened satellite design studio located at Nissan's Brazilian headquarters.

"The Kicks project has been an outstanding example of how our global design network works to create vehicles that are well suited to the regions where they will be seen and enjoyed. For this concept car, we called on our Rio de Janeiro team for their expertise and local insight," said Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president and chief creative officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "This type of collaboration between different studios has long been a strength of Nissan and is a key to our design leadership."

Explaining the thinking behind the concept, he added: "While the Kicks Concept borrows some design influences from Extrem, we wanted to explore a fresh, unexpected perspective on the future of the urban crossover segment in Brazil."

"Kicks is intended to be a little more mature and thoughtful than Extrem. It is fun-to-drive, but but also a serious vehicle. It's designed to be a vehicle that has a eye-catching presence, a vehicle that owners would be proud to own and drive."

"Brazil has a mix of people and cultures that blends a range of styles, flavors and tastes," explains Nissan's Executive Design Director, Mamoru Aoki. "In developing the Kicks Concept, we sought to create a design that is both aspirational yet attainable - a vehicle that is rugged enough to handle the reality of Brazilian back roads but that is sporty, sophisticated and business-like with year-round utility."

To achieve this, the designers sought out the "sweet spot" between a traditional compact SUV and a performance car. The design needed to be modern and new, rather than just another sedan with large wheels, a raised seating position and heavy, stuck-on body cladding.

"Brazil is a country where people have a personal connection to their vehicles, so the Kicks Concept had to have a very strong character first and foremost," added Aoki.

The color and materials design was central to the thinking behind the Kicks Concept and this was achieved with valuable input from the NDA-Rio team. Where Extrem was resplendent in a deep metallic orange Solar Cortex body, Kicks takes a subtler yet equally dramatic color approach.

Speaking about the choices of color for Kicks, NDA-Rio Chief Designer Robert Bauer said: "Gray is an Extremely popular color in Brazil, reflecting the seriousness and sophistication of the urban community. So the Kicks Concept features a superfine finish we call Liquid Satin Titanium".

"But we also wanted the vehicle to express the pop and drama that makes life special, so we brushed the Kicks Concept with bold strokes of rich, deep Rio Sunset orange on the roof, wheels and other accent areas."

Sculptural with a Dynamic Structure

As a vehicle intended to tackle the traffic, stress and diversity of Brazilian roads, the Kicks Concept required a rock solid foundation. Its stance, viewed from all angles, is both highly grounded yet ready to pounce.

"Where the stance of the Nissan Frontier pickup might be compared to a power lifter and the Nissan GT-R to a world-class sprinter, the Kicks Concept is more like a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fighter - coiled for action and precise in every movement," explained Aoki.

Helping achieve the Kicks Concept's sense of security and robustness are its fresh proportions, with the wheels pushed out to the corners, a high beltline and cowl, full wraparound glass and high ground clearance.

Along with its strong stance, the Kicks Concept also offers an innovative, dynamic interplay between its sculptural upper body and the dynamic structure of its lower body, blunt vertical front end and powerful rear treatment.

Key to the successful visual movement between forms is the unique use of textures and materials. The rocker panels, for example, utilize a dark, protective panel similar to the grip of a tool or a cross-trainer. The pattern projects a sense that the Kicks Concept is ready for whatever the road throws at it, then fades out and disappears into the bodysides.

The Kicks body also incorporates many signature Nissan design elements such as V-motion grille, boomerang lights, wraparound "floating" roof and dynamic surfacing. The shoulder line movement features a variation of the design found on many of the new Nissan production and concept cars, such as Murano and the Sport Sedan Concept. The front fender line starts over the wheels and moves rearward. A second accent line picks up under the side-view mirrors and moves up toward the rear, where it flows into the signature boomerang taillights. The beltline features a slim chrome molding, with the dramatic "floating" sideview mirrors fixed on an extension of the sideview molding.

Following the new Nissan signature greenhouse look found on Murano and the recent Sport Sedan Concept, the Kicks Concept side glass is wraparound, with flush glass and a hidden B-pillar mounted from behind. The greenhouse tapers at the rear, giving the cabin a fast-looking appearance in contrast to the solid lower body section.

The "floating" roof enhances the lightness of the cabin structure. The thin, spear-shaped roof design's Rio Sunset paint treatment draws added attention to the shape and drama of the upper body, providing an almost spaceship-like sense that stands out in a sea of more utilitarian vehicles on the road today.

Nowhere is the structure more prominent than in Kicks' front end treatment. The grille utilizes Nissan's new V-motion appearance but with an added sense of blunt toughness. The grille's upright positioning is accented by a large Nissan badge and unique treatment of horizontal bars shown in contrasting matte and gloss inserts. The grille is designed to "bang" into the hood, rather than blend in, adding to the sense of strength and security.

Underneath, a rugged skidplate with special Rio Sunset accents helps anchor the body. Layered above it is a matte aluminum-like textured accent that is seen on body side and rear end as well, giving the Kicks a structural and masculine appeal.

Horizontal LED fog lights are mounted in the lower fascia. The headlights themselves are highly detailed, with contrasting polished and frosted sections accentuating the signature boomerang forms.

The rear of the Kicks Concept continues the ready-for-anything look of the front, including use of a trapezoidal, Rio Sunset-accented skidplate that wraps under the rear bumper and quad tailpipes. The boomerang LED taillights feature a strong, highly dimensional design with fine detailing. The taillights lock into the tailgate form, which emphasizes the structural stance of the rear aspect.

Capping off the "power with finesse" look are the unique 19-inch six-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels. Three separate finish treatments are used, combining gloss black inner surfaces, Rio Sunset accents on each spoke and machine-finished gear-like hubs.

"The challenge in creating the Kicks Concept was in combining its rugged capability in a sophisticated way," said Aoki. "It needed to have a visual strength yet project a premium feel that is expected in upscale vehicles. We think that this approach gives this concept a unique depth in design character."

"We are looking forward to hearing the public's response to the Kicks Concept at its São Paulo debut to see if there is a business case for such a vehicle," added Nakamura. "While designed to reflect the unique desires of the Brazilian market, we are naturally considering if it would meet the needs of urban-dwellers in other countries around the world."

The Kicks name is intended to express the concept car's combination of agility, athletic attitude and also its tough demeanour. It also reflects its youthful and energetic personality, bringing a sense of exuberance to the streets.

The global première of the Nissan Kicks at the 2014 Sao Paulo Motor Show comes at a busy time for Nissan in Brazil. The brand recently opened a new $1.5 billion industrial complex in Resende, Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest automotive investments by any manufacturer in the country. Brazil is key market for the company to achieve a leading position in Latin America.

Topics: nissan, concept

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