Nissan's slick little URGE Concept car was unwrapped for viewing at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. The bold sports car concept, with flexible seating "for more than two," has been crafted with a motorcycle-inspired look and is touted as "a driver's car and a gamer's fantasy." Paying homage to state-of-the-video-arts, the spirited and squat URGE Concept has been engineered with an Xbox 360 video game system that can be played using the steering wheel and pedals when the car is not in gear. It shares a 104.3-inch wheelbase with the 350Z and borrows 350Z-style Brembo brakes but is a full 16 inches shorter and has been built with a quick-closing manual convertible top. Contemporary styling cues on the URGE Concept's aluminum and carbon-fiber composite body include a racing-inspired cockpit and a spun-aluminum roof structure that runs through an exposed engine bay. Power comes from a high-revving 2.5-liter front-mounted inline four-cylinder engine from the Frontier pickup truck. In the Frontier, output rates at 154 horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque, but those figures would clearly rise for a vehicle that would compete with Mazda's Miata and Pontiac's Solstice. A six-speed manual sequential gearbox routes energy to the 20-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy rear wheels while the front wheels are shod in 19-inch rubber. The Nissan URGE Concept's seating arrangement is its most unique attribute, as the two front chairs are joined by a third, center mounted, position in the rear. In an attempt to attract younger customers, the integrated Microsoft Xbox 360 video gaming system foregoes traditional hand controllers in favor of the Formula 1-inspired steering wheel, shifter and pedals. Keeping weight down to around 2,400 pounds with lightweight composite and aluminum elements not only enhances performance but also makes the styling more exciting. 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, but instead large air intake ports are located below the headlights and a conspicuous center-mounted Nissan badge decorates the front end. While the URGE Concept vehicle may be far from a production reality, Nissan is clearly keeping the entry-level rear-drive sports car segment in mind.
Photo by Ron Perry