While its brilliant Sport Sedan Concept grabbed the lion's share of the Nissan limelight in Detroit, a pair of cool one-offs that originally debuted last November in Tokyo also were on display in the Motor City. These innovative exercises, the Nissan IDx Freeflow and IDx Nismo, were created to appeal to a new generation of buyers born after 1990 -- "digital natives" in Nissan parlance - who are as at home in the virtual world as in the real one. Nissan says their names signify the philosophy behind these one-offs, with ID standing for identification and "x" denoting "a variable representing the new values and dreams born through communication." Ironically, the vehicles themselves reprise elements seen far earlier in the automaker's much-loved Datsun 510 that made its reputation on the streets and on racing circuits around the world long before any members of Gen Z were even born.
Using input solicited from its perceived potential target customers, the IDx design team created a pair of subcompact-scaled, coupes that deftly meld neo-retro styling cues with 21st century flair in two decidedly different ways. Where the IDx Freeflow embodies a casual, lifestyle-focused character, the IDx Nismo leverages influences from the automaker's renowned high-performance wing to create a car Nissan says appears to have emerged from a modern-day driving simulator. While both IDx concepts share a common overall platform and straightforward three-box configuration - engine/passenger/cargo compartment - plus the "free-floating" roof panel seen on several of Nissan's latest concepts, each features unique bodywork, powertrain elements and interior trim that serve to define its fundamental character.
Beyond an edgier exterior punctuated by multiple aerodynamic devices, bolt-on fender flares and a competition-inspired paint job, the IDx Nismo rides on 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/40 performance rubber while the more laid-back Freeflow mounts 195/50 tires on its 18-inch chrome rims. Nissan says the IDx Freeflow could be fitted with a 1.2-liter or 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine and a conventional CVT automatic transmission but the Nismo variant packs the automaker's potent 1.6-liter turbocharged alternative backed by a performance CVT with a 6-speed manual mode. Inside, the Freeflow embodies the look and feel of a smooth-operating cruiser while the Nismo presents a decidedly racy born-to-run persona.
Although the IDx Concepts were originally envisioned largely for the Japanese domestic market, the overwhelming public response they've drawn to date led Nissan to expand its thinking on their international potential. While stopping short of providing an on-sale date, Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer did confirm that at least one IDx variant rumored to be the sportier Nismo iteration will make it into production within the next couple of years.
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