Hope for a Nissan entry-level sports seems to have left with Andy Palmer

If there are still people out there that are clinging to hope that Nissan would eventually build an entry-level sports car to serve as the automaker’s answer to the Mazda MX-5 and the Toyota 86, better cut those strings now because the Japanese automaker has officially ruled it out due to economic reasons.

It’s disappointing news, but not one that comes as a shock. After all, Nissan has gone cold on the prospects of developing an compact sports car ever since Andy Palmer bolted for Aston Martin in 2014. Without its champion campaigning for the production of these cars, it seemed inevitable that the whole plan would be scrapped entirely.

Recent comments made by Nissan’s senior vice president, and chief creative officer, Shiro Nakamura, doused whatever ember was left of that fire. Speaking to Auto Express, Nakamura explained that prospective development of the sports car has been shelved entirely because the company couldn’t afford building a new platform specifically for the car. Certain concessions could’ve been made had the projects pushed through, but the platform wasn’t one of them. To make things worse, Nakamura also admitted that Nissan’s platform strategy isn’t where it’s supposed to be, so in effect, there really are bigger concerns in play for the Japanese automaker other than determining the viability of an entry level sports car.

Now is it safe to hammer the nails into the coffin of an entry-level Nissan sports car? At this point, that seems to be the direction Nissan is going, but if the auto industry has taught us anything, it’s that those coffins don’t tend to remain shut permanently. Just don’t expect it to be reopened anytime soon.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

I know it’s disappointing news, but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time so it’s really not that shocking anymore. If you’ve been following this story, it was clear from the start that the entry-level sports car really was Palmer’s baby. He championed it from the get-go and doubled down on it when he spearheaded the launch of the pair of retro-stylized IDx concepts at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

But, everything changed when he left for Aston Martin in 2014. The entry-level sports car lost its biggest supporter and any chance of the car being green-lit was thrown into disarray the moment Palmer exited Nissan. I get it though. I understand where Nissan is coming from because it doesn’t have the materials it needs to build a car while trying to keep the cost of doing so at an acceptable level. It might have been a different story if it had a new multi-model platform that it could use for the car. But it doesn’t, and it doesn’t plan on building a new platform for the specific purpose of using it on the sports car. That doesn’t make financial sense and Nissan is right for taking that business approach.

I just hope that this decision isn’t permanent. Maybe it will be revisited in the future. Who knows, really? What I do know is that it would’ve been awesome if Nissan had a sports car that could compete with the Mazda MX-5, the Toyota 86, and the returning Honda S2000. Can you imagine the kind of Japanese sports car war that would incite? It would be an all-out sports car war the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.

Let’s hope that at some point in the future, that scenario still plays out. It’s all up to Nissan now.

Nissan IDX Nismo

2013 Nissan IDx Nismo High Resolution Exterior
- image 532945

Read our review of the 2013 Nissan IDX Nismo here.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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