Japan’s answer to the Tesla Model X

Having launched the Leaf back in 2010, Nissan is one of the pioneers of the all-electric industry. While not as efficient as the recently launched Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, the Leaf remains the best-selling EV ever build as of early 2018. However, Nissan has yet to expand its all-electric lineup beyond this hatchback, and it is now falling behind the competition. This could change by the end of 2018, with Nissan likely to debut a battery-powered crossover based on the IMx concept.

Introduced at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, the IMx is described as "an all-electric crossover concept vehicle offering fully autonomous operation and a driving range of more than 600 km." Nissan also says that the vehicle provides "a glimpse into the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan’s approach to changing how cars are powered, driven and integrated with society." The IMx also previews the company’s new design language, so it could change quite a few things for the Japanese automaker. If put into production, it could go against the Tesla Model X, currently the quickest, most efficient, and most popular electric crossover out there.

While Nissan didn’t officially confirm a production version of the IMx, an all-electric crossover is the next logical step now that the second-generation Leaf is on its way to dealerships. Let’s find out what it may bring to the table in the speculative review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan IMx.

Exterior

  • IMx concept-inspired design
  • V-shaped grille
  • Modern features
  • "Floating" roof
  • Familiar Leaf styling cues
2017 Nissan IMx Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 740404
2017 Nissan IMx Concept

Note: Nissan IMx concept pictured here.

We rendered a production version of the concept using the IMx's new design language

While the Leaf Nismo concept presented in 2017 looked ready to go into production, the IMx is a bit too outlandish for dealerships. Sure, Nissan could build it as is, but it would no longer be an affordable vehicle. As a result, we rendered a production version of the concept using the IMx’s new design language and some of the familiar styling cues seen on the company’s recent products.

Up front, we kept the V-shaped grille and the vertical vents at the corners but both we trimmed down to a more production-friendly form. For the grille, we used the new Leaf as inspiration, so don’t be surprised that the element has no mesh and sports the same blue background. The black trim surrounding the grille is also taken from the Leaf, while the headlamps, albeit slimmer, features the same hockey stick-shaped LED layout. Down below, we removed the concept car’s organic vents and went with a more traditional look with a wide intake in the middle and daytime running lights at the corners. The V-shaped hood and the tall fender extensions remained in place as this features are likely to be part of Nissan’s design language for future cars.

2018 Nissan Leaf High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 729749

Note: 2018 Nissan Leaf pictured here.

Nissan likely wants the electric crossover to have a familiar look

The fact that most of the front fascia is similar to the Leaf’s is no coincidence. Nissan likely wants the electric crossover to have a familiar look and placing it in the same design territory as the Leaf is the best thing to do.

We altered the car’s profile too, starting with the side skirts, which now have a more traditional form. It’s not as sporty obviously, but it’s more practical for an affordable crossover. The production model also gained conventional doors, door handles, side mirrors, and less expensive wheels. It also has production-friendly pillars for the roof. Toward the back, we can see the same black C-pillar and raised rear fenders, but this feature is far from new, having already seen it on the latest Leaf.

2017 Nissan IMx Exterior
- image 740399
Muscular beltline

Note: Nissan IMx concept pictured here.

Around back, I expect some of the concept's extreme features to be deleted before production

Around back, I expect some of the concept’s extreme features to be deleted before production. The aggressively raked rear window will be replaced by a more conventional unit and the same will happen with the spoiler on the roof. I wouldn’t be surprised for those taillights to go into production, but the rest of the fascia and the lower bumper will be redesigned into a more familiar shape. Don’t get your hopes up for that flashy "Nissan" badge with LED lights.

All told, the IMx will be a Leaf on stilts, but Nissan will make things a bit more exciting with a few exclusive design features. It won’t be as fancy as the Tesla Model X, but it will stand out among other Nissans.

Interior

  • Leaf-inspired cabin
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • New infotainment system
  • Navigation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Premium features
  • ProPilot Assist
  • e-Pedal system
2018 Nissan Leaf Interior Drivetrain
- image 729735

Note: 2018 Nissan Leaf pictured here.

My best guess is that the IMx will be in line with the latest Nissan models, maybe even similar to the Leaf

The interior of the IMx concept is a work of art. I love its simplicity and ergonomic design and it’s exactly what I want to find in a modern vehicle. Unfortunately, it’s way too futuristic for a Nissan and a tad too outlandish even when compared to the best luxury brands out there.

Not only it doesn’t have a center stack and center tunnel — left out to increase space — but the concept also comes with only four individual seats. This layout doesn’t make much sense in a production Nissan so things will change radically for production. The fancy seats will be dropped in favor of more conventional units and the big wood grain pattern on the dashboard will be replaced by soft-touch plastic.

The IMx could also get ProPilot Assist, a single-lane driving assistance technology

You can also forget about the panoramic OLED screen that spreads on the entire length of the dash and display a view of the outer environment in the background. The same goes for the artificial intelligence technology that enables the driver to control the instrument panel with eye movements and hand gestures. It sounds really cool, but it’s not something that Nissan will put into production anytime soon. The autonomous mode is a bit more likely to find its way into production, but we won’t get it in the IMx if this vehicle is launched in 2018. Autonomous drive isn’t yet regulated around the world and we won’t see a production model on public roads for a few more years.

So now we know that at least 95 percent of the concept’s interior won’t make it into production, but what will we get in this crossover? My best guess is that the IMx will be in line with the latest Nissan models, maybe even similar to the Leaf. Nothing too fancy but a bit on the premium side. Nissan has upped the ante in that direction in its most recent vehicles, including the Leaf, and the IMx should follow the same path. Actually, I’m expecting the crossover to take things up a notch.

2018 Nissan Leaf Interior Drivetrain
- image 729745

Note: 2018 Nissan Leaf pictured here.

Another feature introduced with the Leaf and likely to make it into the IMx is e-Pedal

While the general layout is still a mystery, the technology package should be similar to the leaf. It should have a big digital screen in the instrument cluster area and a big display for the infotainment system in the center stack. The leather steering wheel and the contrast stitching should come standard, along with chrome and piano black inserts. It should also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a navigation system (probably not standard in lower trims), and the company’s new Intelligent Integration platform, which includes NissanConnect, through which the driver can search for continuously updated information such as the location and operating hours of free charging stations and charging station availability.

The IMx could also get ProPilot Assist, a single-lane driving assistance technology that automatically controls the distance to the vehicle in front between speeds of 18 mph to 62 mph. In the Leaf, it can also help the driver steer and keep the car centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, the system automatically applies the brakes. After coming to a full stop, it keeps the car stationary even if the driver’s foot is off the brake. When traffic restarts, the car resumes driving when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator.

Another feature introduced with the Leaf and likely to make it into the IMx is e-Pedal, a system that enables the driver to control the car with one pedal only. You still have two pedals, but when this function is activated, the car able to determine what to do based on your input of the accelerator pedal, and will be able to stop, stay in position, and resume driving without moving your foot from one pedal to the next.

Drivetrain

  • New drivetrain with 429 horsepower
  • 372 miles of range
  • New, larger battery
  • Solid performance
A Nissan with more than 350 miles of range would be tremendous for the current SUV market and a big blow for Tesla

As with most concepts, the IMx previews a new electric drivetrain that sounds very promising. The crossover is reportedly powered by two "high-output" motors, one for each axle, that produce a solid 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque combined. The concept also boasts a high-capacity battery that’s supposed to return a driving range of more than 372 miles per charge. That’s at least 77 miles more than the most efficient Tesla Model X available right now and mighty impressive when compared to the Nissan Leaf. While the autonomous drive system might not be ready for production just yet, this electric drivetrain could become a thing by the end of the year. Assuming that development is already close to its final stages.

A 400+ horsepower Nissan with more than 350 miles of range would be tremendous for the current SUV market and a big blow for Tesla, the current segment leader with the awesome Model X.

2018 Nissan Leaf Drivetrain
- image 729720

Note: 2018 Nissan Leaf pictured here.

If Nissan doesn't develop this drivetrain in time for the IMx, it may be stuck with the one in the Leaf

On the flipside, if Nissan doesn’t develop this drivetrain in time for the IMx, it may be stuck with the one in the Leaf. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the Leaf isn’t as powerful and doesn’t return as much mileage as the competition. Specifically, the new Leaf comes with 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque on tap, 40 horses and 49 pound-feet more than the outgoing model. The battery is also new, now having a 40-kWh capacity. That’s 10 kWh more than the previous model, but below the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s 60 kWh and the Tesla Model 3’s 50 or optional 75 kWh capacity. The range was increased from 107 to 150 miles. While it’s nothing to sneeze at, it’s significantly inferior to the Bolt’s 238 miles and the Model 3’s 220 miles.

Of course, the crossover doesn’t have to get the exact same drivetrain. Nissan did say that a more powerful version is under development, so I guess an IMx with at least 200 miles is doable. But again, if Nissan moves that 429-horsepower and 372-mile drivetrain into production, the IMx could become the hottest electric crossover on the market. Sure, it won’t be as quick as the Tesla Model X, but I’d sacrifice supercar-like performance for almost 400 miles of range per charge.

Prices

It’s difficult to predict how much will Nissan ask for the production version of the IMx, mainly because the Japanese firm hasn’t offered an all-electric crossover up until now. But based on the Leaf’s place on the market, it’s safe to assume that the IMx will be a bit more affordable than the competition. I’d venture to say that pricing will start from around $40,000 before incentives. That’s around $32,500 if you’re eligible for government rebates.

Competition

Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X Wallpaper quality
- image 678035

Introduced in 2015, the Tesla Model X is basically the only mass-produced, all-electric SUV on the market. Developed on the same platform as the popular Model S, the Model X shares many styling cues with the sedan and stands out thanks to its butterfly-style, "falcon" rear doors. Available with seating for up to seven adults, the Model X offers a somewhat premium environment with the best technology Tesla can offer. The SUV is packed with sensors and cameras and even uses a semi-autonomous driving system called Autopilot. Three drivetrain options are available, starting with the 75D model. Powered by a 75 kWh battery, it returns 237 miles per charge, hits 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and tops out at 130 mph. Next up is 100D, powered by a 100 kWh battery with all-wheel-drive. Range increases to 295 miles, while the 0-to-60 mph sprint drops to 4.7 clicks. Top speed is estimated at 155 mph. The range-topping P100D model also uses a 100 kWh battery but comes with an upgraded all-wheel-drive system. While mileage drops to 289 miles compared to the 100D, sprinting to 60 mph takes an amazing 2.9 seconds. Pricing for the base model is set at $85,500 before incentives, making it significantly more expensive than what the IMx is expected to cost. The 100D trim retails from $102,000, while the P100D model comes in at a whopping $140,000.

Read our full story on the 2016 Tesla Model X.

Conclusion

2020 Nissan IMx Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop Exclusive Renderings
- image 747362

I’ve been a fan of Nissan vehicles and the company’s marketing strategy for quite a few years now. The Japanese firm is well covered in most segments, but it does have a couple of issues in the performance and EV departments. Both the GT-R and 370Z are a bit too long in the tooth, while the new Leaf still doesn’t offer as much range as the competition. But the biggest issue, in my opinion, is that Nissan has yet to expand its EV lineup. Not only the Leaf needs a higher performance version, but Nissan also needs an all-electric crossover in dealerships. The IMx seems to be answer to this problem, especially if it comes with the drivetrain showcased in the concept car. If this happens, it will also be a big blow for Tesla, which is currently struggling roll out new products while the Model X is way too expensive for the average Joe. With a sub-$40,000 sticker and a 300-mile range, the IMx could become the leader of the electric crossover market and could spawn a revolution in this very small segment. Fingers crossed that this concept is more than just a fancy show car.

  • Leave it
    • * Not yet confirmed for production
    • * Leaf drivetrain wouldn’t be enough

References

2017 Nissan IMx Exterior
- image 740398
Two electric motors

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan IMx Concept.

2013 Nissan IDx Nismo High Resolution Exterior
- image 532944

Read our full review on the 2013 Nissan IDx Nismo.

2014 Nissan IDx Freeflow High Resolution Exterior
- image 532996

Read our full review on the 2013 Nissan IDx Freeflow.

2018 Nissan Leaf High Resolution Exterior
- image 729755

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

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