Nissan’s bold URGE Concept sports car, with flexible seating “for more than two” and an integrated Xbox 360 gaming system that works using the car’s controls, has been crafted to deliver the look and driving feel of a motorcycle in a four-wheeled package. A rear-wheel-drive vehicle with lightweight construction, the Nissan URGE Concept was designed in California and built on the same platform as the 350Z. The young customers Nissan might target with a car like the URGE Concept want a car that will not bankrupt their budgets. They want flexibility to bring friends along for the ride, but they don’t want an object that will dominate their lives. They may be first-time buyers, are likely young and single, and want a car that is technologically advanced yet pure in its driving characteristics.
Touting it as “a driver’s car and a gamer’s fantasy,” Nissan has blessed the URGE Concept with a lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber body powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine donated from the Frontier pickup, which makes 154 horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque in the truck. That’s plenty to motivate the URGE’s 2,400-lb. curb weight, however, the URGE would likely have a high revving four-banger delivering substantially more horsepower if it ever went into production. Behind the engine, a six-speed manual transmission routes the power to the rear wheels.
In an attempt to attract younger customers, the Nissan URGE Concept’s integrated Microsoft Xbox 360 video gaming system foregoes traditional hand controllers in favor of the Formula 1-inspired steering wheel, shifter and pedals. A screen folds down from the rearview mirror and the “player” operates the system via the URGE Concept’s steering wheel, shifter and pedals. Game sounds are transmitted through the vehicle’s audio system. Presumably, driving games are the most natural to operate, although adaptable young buyers may enjoy “steering” through a first-person adventure or sports game.
The Nissan URGE Concept’s color-contrasting body panels overlap and create a futuristic design effect. Headlights that slide back into the see-through glass hood reference those on the new Skyline concept. There’s no front bumper or discernable grille; rather, large air intake ports are located below the headlights and a large center-mounted Nissan badge. While this concept vehicle may be far from a production reality, Nissan is clearly keeping the entry-level rear-drive sports car segment in mind.
Glass along the bottom halves of the doors help break the interior/exterior barrier, again showing Nissan’s commitment to mimic the pure-bred performance and feel of a motorcycle. Drivers are aware of the road rushing by, because it’s visible through the windows. Super short front and rear overhangs set the URGE Concept up for ultra-responsive handling. Nissan has tacked on bulging “fenders” that, given the emphasis on singular components, fit the URGE Concept well. Other features include headlights that extend into the hood, taillights stuck on the quarter panels, a “t-top” roof, small triangular windows between the A-pillars and doors, and a large Nissan badge on the snout.
Large Brembo brakes peek out from behind the Nissan URGE Concept’s 19-inch front wheels on narrow 195/45 tires and rear 20-inch rims wrapped in 225/35 series rubber. The discrepancy in tire width emphasizes the rear end, again fitting the motorcycle concept. A fully independent suspension keeps the URGE Concept dynamically balanced.
Everything inside the Nissan URGE Concept is oriented toward the driver, including the semi-circular Formula 1-inspired steering wheel. The shifter is mounted high in the center console, well ahead of the seats. Interior panels flow from the upper doors to the A-pillars to the dashboard in a seemingly unbroken mass. Although the features appear spare, Nissan has put considerable effort into all of the surfaces. The front bucket seats include mesh and leather coverings, and Nissan has included a center-mounted jump seat in the back. The URGE Concept’s yellow interior color scheme reveals Nissan’s avant-garde intentions.
Styling cues include a racing-inspired cockpit and a spun-aluminum roof structure that runs through an exposed engine bay, but the Nissan URGE Concept’s seating arrangement is its most unique attribute. The URGE is equipped with two front seats joined by a third, center-mounted position in the rear.
Nissan emphasizes that because the URGE Concept is built on the 350Z’s platform, it’s a possibility for production. It’s hard to imagine the vehicle hitting the streets in the current concept’s form, but a shorter wheelbase entry-level sports car could be in the works. Nissan must certainly be eyeing the 2006 Mazda MX-5’s and 2006 Pontiac Solstice’s success in the segment, but if the URGE Concept is any indication, they will take a more technological approach.