A look into Nissan’s future crossovers and electric cars

The Nissan IMq is a concept crossover that the Japanese firm unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.Part of a series of IM-badged concepts that also include the IMs and IMx, the IMq previews an upcoming subcompact crossover, likely the second-generation Juke, but also "signals the direction" of Nissan’s next generation of SUVs.

"Its styling reflects Nissan’s role as a pioneer and leader in crossovers, with a striking look that pushes the boundaries of what a European crossover can be," Nissan said, suggesting that the production version of the IMq will be Euro-spec only. This strengthens the scenario that it may preview a new Juke, which was replaced by the Kicks in the United States in 2018. On the other hand, it could also be a preview for the third-generation Qashqai, due in 2020. In the U.S., the Qashqai is sold as the Rogue Sport.

Exterior

  • Controversial design
  • Unique front grille
  • Very slim lights
  • Tall waistline
  • Compact size
  • Coupe-style roof
2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The layout of the grille extends into the wide vent in the bumper, but it also blends into the front hood

Design-wise, the IMq looks unique compared to the IMs and IMx, which is a bit surprising to be honest. But the most surprising thing about this concept car is that it seems to borrow some features from current Lexus production cars. The way the headlamps are doubled by thin stripes in the bumper and the shape of the front grille remind me a lot of Toyota’s luxury division. But Nissan shaped these features in its own way.

The headlamps are much slimmer than Lexus’, while the grille is made of really thin gills. And this is where things take a very unique turn. Not only the layout of the grille extends into the wide vent in the bumper, but it also blends into the front hood. Remember the joke about BMW kidney grilles growing so large that they will soon expand onto the hood and toward the windscreen? Well, Nissan is already doing it in concept form. As much as I don’t like outlandish grilles, I must admit I’m pleasantly intrigued by the IMq’s front-end design.

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The fascia itself is tall and clean, a big contrast compared to the skinny and V-shaped taillights

Things become weird onto the sides though. While I’m fully aware of modern tendencies to add massive wheels and wheel arches to concept SUVs, the IMq looks awkward due to its tall waistline and low roof. The muscular rear fenders are a nice touch though, as is the big "pocket" cut above the side skirt. But hey, concepts are supposed to be intriguing, so I’m pretty sure Nissan got the reactions it was looking for with this show car.

The IMq’s rear end looks like that of high-performance hatchback. The flat rear window is shaded by a big roof spoiler, while the beltline extends to form an integrated spoiler just above the fascia. The fascia itself is tall and clean, a big contrast compared to the skinny and V-shaped taillights. The bumper is mostly made of thin vertical gills, just like the front grille. There’s no diffuser or exhaust pipes, but semi-transparent look provided by the gills is impressive to say the least.

Needless to say, the IMq will never win a design award in my book, but there are certain features that I like. With certain changes, Nissan could turn this concept into an award-winning production model.

Interior

  • Four seats
  • 33-inch display
  • Custom steering wheel
  • Clean door panels
  • "Suspended" center console
  • Wing-shaped dashboard
2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The irregularly shaped display is no less than 33 inches wide at the top

Getting inside the IMq is much easier compared to production cars simply because the doors are hinged at their outer edges. This means means that they open wider than usual, so your passengers don’t have to squeeze between an opened door and a pillar. Once the doors are opened it’s easy to notice why the IMq is a concept vehicle. Both the seats and the center console are suspended high above the floor, creating the impression of a lounge-style interior.

The fact that there are only two rear seats further enhances this feeling that the IMq is a comfortable vehicle for four. The seats are quite sporty. They include heavy side bolstering, integrated headrests, and an ergonomically shaped seating surface. The floor mimics the gill pattern of the front grille and rear bumper, a cool and unique idea.

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The "gliding wing" dashboard is based on a design that Nissan introduced in previous concept cars, but everything else beyond the shape is new.

The irregularly shaped display is no less than 33 inches wide at the top, a section that stretches over almost the entire width of the dash. A second screen placed above center console incorporates what Nissan calls the Virtual Personal Assistant. This feature "enhances the driving experience by controlling vehicle functions, such as navigation, in response to input from the driver." I’m not sure what that means, but it’s probably a fancy way to say that it’s an infotainment display.

The concept is equipped with Invisible-to-Visible technology, a 3D interface where the "real world converges with the virtual world."

The steering wheel is far from regular too. Instead of the usual round rim, Nissan went with the race-inspired flat top and bottom. But it sits a bit lower than usual, which is supposed to maximize visibility toward both the road and the dashboard. Nissan also crafted a new generation of soft-touch paddles for shifting on the back of the steering wheel.

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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Unlike most modern production cars, the IMq features clean door panels. They’re not completely featureless as they’re split into two sections finished in different colors and with different materials, but there are no handles, no pockets, and no buttons.

Nissan says the concept is equipped with Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) technology, a 3D interface where the "real world converges with the virtual world."

This system helps vehicle occupants "see what may otherwise be invisible" thanks to Nissan’s Omni-Sensing technology which connects the IMq to real-world sensing information inside and outside the cabin. The technology can help drivers see around corners or find out precise information about traffic jams. Interestingly enough, the cabin can also project a virtual passenger in the form of a 3D augmented-reality avatar. Just in case you’re feeling lonely.

Drivetrain

  • Electric motors
  • Gas engine powers the battery
  • 335 horsepower
  • 516 pund-feet
  • No performance data
  • Autonomous system
2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The electric motors deliver 335 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque

Nissan didn’t dive into too many details here, but it did say that the IMq features a next-generation e-Power drivetrain. This electrified concept may be new in Europe and the U.S., but Nissan is already using it in Japan in the Note e-Power and a minivan called Serena.

The Japanese firm calls it a "100% electric motor drive system," but this doesn’t mean that the IMq is fully electric. The e-Power system in this concept and Nissan’s Japan-spec production cars are actually closer to hybrid. While electric motors are used to spin the wheels, the battery is being charged by a gasoline engine.

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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Nissan says the IMq powertrain has been further developed from the e-Power technology in the Note and Serena, but it doesn’t mention whether the gasoline engine was dropped or not. What we do know is that the IMq has more than one electric motor because it features a "multi-motor all-wheel-drive system."

While electric motors are used to spin the wheels, the battery is being charged by a gasoline engine

It’s also notably more powerful than the old drivetrain at 335 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than most electric cars on the market today, with only Tesla and sports car manufacturers providing more oomph from electric motors. No word on performance and range, but it should exceed the ratings of the production-spec Nissan Leaf.

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The IMq is also fitted with an advanced prototype version of ProPilot, Nissan’s driving assistance system that can offer autonomous driving capability. It combines an array of advanced sensors, radars and cameras located throughout the car that can "read and interpret" road, traffic, and information signals for safe autonomous driving on both city streets and highway. A slightly improved version of the IMq’s ProPilot will probably find its way into a production model in a couple of years.

Final Thoughts

2019 Nissan IMq Concept
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The IMq is by far the most controversial of Nissan’s IM concepts so far, but it’s also far more interesting than its predecessors. The connectivity system is impressive to say the least and the massive 33-inch screen could solve many design and ergonomic issues of modern cars. Sure, it’s way too expensive to be offered in a vehicle that doesn’t compete in the premium segment, but as costs for pretty much everything car-related are going down, it should be a viable option in just a couple of years. The potent electric drivetrain and the advanced autonomous system add to the IMq’s appeal and signal big changes in Nissan production cars in the future.

  • Leave it
    • Is it actually a hybrid?
    • Not exactly pretty overall

Further Reading

Nissan's Geneva-Bound IMQ Concept Is a Hideous Mutant
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Nissan’s Geneva-Bound IMQ Concept Is A Hideous Mutant

Will Futuristic Nissan IMs EC Sport Sedan Concept Save Sedans??
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Will Futuristic Nissan IMS EC Sport Sedan Concept Save Sedans?

Will Futuristic Nissan IMs EC Sport Sedan Concept Save Sedans??
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Read more details about the 2019 Nissan IMs concept.

2017 Nissan IMx Exterior
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429 horsepower

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan IMx.

Nissan today unveiled the all-new IMQ concept vehicle, an advanced technology and design showcase that signals the direction of the next generation of crossovers. Unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show, the IMQ seamlessly blends Japanese heritage with state-of-the-art, human-centric technology. It incorporates the latest innovations that bring to life Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the brand’s vision for the future of automotive transportation. Its styling reflects Nissan’s role as a pioneer and leader in crossovers, with a striking look that pushes the boundaries of what a European crossover can be. At the heart of the IMQ is the next generation of e-POWER, a 100% electric motor drive system that delivers instant, linear acceleration. It has been further developed from the e-POWER technology currently available in the best-selling Nissan Note and Serena models in Japan. In the IMQ, it delivers a total output of 250 kilowatts and 700 Nm of torque. This high output is channeled through a new multi-motor all-wheel-drive system, delivering precise and independent control of each wheel. The combination of e-POWER and AWD is ideal for low-grip conditions, such as the snowy alpine roads outside Geneva. The IMQ offers additional insights into Nissan’s technology vision. It’s equipped with an advanced prototype version of Nissan’s ProPILOT* driving assistance system which can offer enhanced autonomous driving capability. The model also features Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology, unveiled in January 2019 at the CES trade show. Exterior and interior design merge as one
The IMQ’s dimensions place it at the center of the European C-crossover segment. It demonstrates a clean and effortless design, with the exterior and interior merging as one. This is most striking in the lines of the greenhouse, designed to give the impression of a single continuous surface. The IMQ marks a bold new direction in Nissan’s design language. It builds on the Nissan badge, integrated into the V-motion grille, which has been given a deliberately more subtle execution. The grille blends vertically into the hood and horizontally with the front bumper to create strong corners at the outer edges. The hood features striking chrome-edged cuts as the fender rises from the wheel arches and tucks under the central section. At the rear, a vertical character line drops from the light cluster to separate air as it passes down the side, aiding aerodynamic performance. At its upper end, it’s integrated into a new slim line interpretation of Nissan’s “boomerang” lamp cluster. The single-piece tailgate tucks under the rear fenders, echoing the design of the hood. Closer inspection reveals extensive use of three-dimensional ridges on the darkened lower sections of the exterior. These detailed layers – known as lamellas – are evocative of Japanese traditional design and extend all around the car. The exterior is completed by 22-inch alloy wheels with bespoke Bridgestone Connect tyres. These “smart” tyres communicate information to the driver via the graphical user interface. Data transmitted includes tyre load, pressure, temperature, grip level, wear and tyre health. This helps the IMQ automatically calibrate its in-car control systems to work optimally. The Japanese design themes, blended with contemporary technology, continue inside. The IMQ’s doors are hinged at their outer edges and open to reveal a futuristic, spacious interior, featuring four individual seats that rise seamlessly from the lamella-covered floor, which provides a visual link to the exterior. Nissan’s familiar “gliding wing” instrument panel dominates the front of the cabin, with a center console emerging from beneath and stretching back between the front seats into the rear. Each sculpted seat is finished in a two-tone 3D technical fabric, laser-cut in a geometric design inspired by Japanese kumiko woodwork. The pattern is replicated on the instrument panel, door trim and parcel shelf, as well as the rich metallic finish of the seat back. Lamellas have also been integrated into the door trim and seat back uppers as headrest supports. Futuristic control for the ultimate drive
Everything about the IMQ’s interior is focused on the driver. This is demonstrated by the graphical user interface, dominated by an 840-millimeter screen embedded in the instrument panel. It’s completely black - like a smartphone - when powered down, but when powered up, it comes to life to provide e-POWER status and other vehicle information. Further use of the black lamellas is always visible behind the screen. A smaller, secondary screen above the center console hosts the IMQ’s Virtual Personal Assistant. It enhances the driving experience by controlling vehicle functions, such as navigation, in response to input from the driver. The steering wheel is ergonomically shaped to put the driver in a relaxed position and to maximize the visibility of the instrument panel. Advanced, “soft-touch” paddle shift-style functionality is built into the back of the wheel. A technology showcase
The IMQ is equipped with Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) technology, a 3-D interface where the “real world” converges with the virtual world. Developed by Nissan, I2V helps vehicle occupants see what may otherwise be invisible, adding confidence and excitement to the driving experience. The opportunity to “see the invisible” is made possible with Nissan’s Omni-Sensing technology which connects the IMQ to real-world sensing information inside and outside the vehicle’s cabin, combined with information from the virtual world, displayed before the driver and passenger for a rich mixed-reality experience. The technology can help drivers see around corners, visualize precise information about traffic jams – including causes – and determine alternative routes for a stress-free journey. Drivers may even enjoy the company of a virtual passenger, in the form of a 3D augmented-reality avatar inside the car. Nissan’s commitment to an autonomous future, as laid out in the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, is also reflected in the IMQ. The car is equipped with an advanced prototype ProPILOT driver assistance system, assisting drivers on urban streets and suburban highways. This is possible due to an array of advanced sensors, radars and cameras located throughout the car that can interpret road, traffic and information signals for a smooth and confident ride. “The IMQ’s design combines traditional and modern Japanese influences and shows what’s possible when future crossovers are powered by Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president for design at Nissan. “With the IMQ, the interior and exterior are seamlessly blended together, signalling what our design direction may be for Nissan’s third generation of crossovers in Europe.”

Press release
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