new cars: Nissan Forum Concept Preview – Nissan’s Forum is what carmakers call an exploratory concept, which means there are several features or characteristics that are wishful thinking and not next year’s hot feature. That said, the Forum bristles with just about every attribute buyers want in modern family transportation and a few they probably haven’t thought of. Nissan set out to design and engineer a vehicle that addresses how modern families travel and interact. To that end, the Forum is divided in to zones, one for parents and one for kids. The idea is to provide an enjoyable place for each group while keeping them connected.Why it Matters
The Nissan Quest minivan has been on the road since 1993, and the current model is in its fourth year and due for a redesign for 2009. The Forum Concept shows the likely direction of the redesign. Quest sales haven’t topped 50,000 vehicles during the past five years, and the model could use a dose of modern technology and styling.
What’s Under the Hood
Nissan has announced that the next generation Maxima will be offered with a clean diesel engine, and that’s the specified power plant for the Forum Concept. Whether the diesel becomes an option on the next generation Quest remains to be seen, but it’s hardly out of the question.
What it Looks Like
The exterior design is futuristic without looking cartoonish, while the interior is an interesting mix of old and new – shag carpet and central display – for instance. While the single box design is exactly what a minivan is based on, the Forum looks more like the current crossover design than today’s minivans. The roof panel is primarily made of glass and there are shades to close out the sun on hot days. Dimensionally, the Forum is very close to the 2008 Nissan Quest. Inside, there’s an even more swoopy design to the dashboard and an instrument pod that’s more separated from the main dash. Front doors open wide, while the sliding rear doors are trackless. No B-pillar separates the doors, making for a wide opening for getting in and out.
It wouldn’t be a modern people hauler without a full complement of audio-visual entertainment options, and those are here aplenty. It’s the other features that set the Forum Concept apart. The second row bucket seats swivel, which isn’t a first, but they’re mounted on a single pedestal, which allows them to both face out the large side openings. Nissan thinks of this as grandstand seating, suitable for watching sports or picnicking. A built-in microwave in the center console is big enough to hold a bag of microwave popcorn. A Kids Cam system allows the driver to keep an eye on young occupants in the second and third rows. Should things get too chaotic, there’s a Time Out button on the steering wheel that mutes all audio and broadcasts the driver’s voice through all interior speakers. “Don’t make me pull this car over” can now be delivered like the voice of God. The Forum’s Bose Media System has a feature that allows the driver to bring up the basic controls by waving her hand in front of an infrared sensor.
What Nissan Says
“While some people think that family transportation vehicles are a thing of the past, Nissan’s view is that vehicles just need to evolve along with changing family dynamics. Quality time used to be more about the quantity of time spent together with the kids. Today, it’s more about dedicated moments for family fun, entertainment and communication. Forum is a great place to gather together and rediscover each other once in a while.”
What We Think
While we might not buy into the whole nuclear family evolution idea, the Forum Concept shows off several useful features, new ideas and a design that’s far more sleek and unified than most of today’s people haulers. Far more important than quality “dedicated moments” is whether a redesigned Quest will be priced and sell in profitable numbers with the high-end features shown off with the Forum.
MyRide Road Test Editor