Concept Cars

New Nissan concept reveals future Rogue, Murano design, EV plans

Nissan has revealed its Ariya Concept, signaling an evolution in the company's design language.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

It's called the Ariya Concept. The electrified SUV with twin electric motors and driver assistance technology doesn't break the Nissan mold. It evolves it.

Appearing first at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan's Ariya Concept furthers the design language first shown in the IMx concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Its expressive and electrified V-motion signature front shield (where a grille would typically be), angular rear light blades, short overhangs, a fastback-style roofline, and a supple interior were hallmarks then and continue into this new vehicle. It also has wide front fenders, rear fender flares, a high-mounted rear wing, and super-thin LED headlights. The body's paint job is called Suisei Blue.

Nissan Ariya Concept wheel copper Nissan is infused copper design elements throughout the vehicle and says that the color will become a hallmark for the company in the coming years.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

"The exterior strikes a balance between dynamic beauty and 'tech sharpness,' with proportions that show what's possible with Nissan's 100% electric vehicle platform," Albaisa said. "The surprisingly short overhangs, large cabin, large wheels and tailored two-tone paint scheme provide an elegant appearance that balances sport and luxury."

The Ariya Concept rides on 21-inch aluminum wheels with custom tires. Its wheels and roofline are painted a copper color, which Nissan says will be a signature color in the company's lineup in the future.

"A new vehicle architecture means fresh opportunities to redefine how vehicles interact with society, how an EV paired with advanced driving capabilities can offer a new perspective," said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's senior vice president of global design. "With this vehicle ... we wanted to ensure that the soul of every Nissan car possess a distinctive Japanese DNA conveyed in a simple-yet-powerfully modern way, something we call 'Timeless Japanese Futurism.'"

Nissan Ariya Concept inteiror cabin The interior of the Nissan Ariya Concept features minimalist design.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Concept is based on new vehicle architecture, which is EV-ready, something that other automakers, like Volvo, have already switched to and implemented in their lineup.

Nissan's new concept car has the futurist hallmarks most brands are flaunting these days. Its minimalist dashboard shuns buttons for haptic touch functionality. Its only physical controls are a start button, a single knob ghat operates the 12.3-inch display monitor, and climate controls.Super thin seats are designed to help create a feeling of spaciousness throughout the cabin while the flat load floor (possible because of the lack of exhaust system and other traditional powertrain components), leather upholstery, copper fabric, and aluminum and real wood accents.

Guiding the car's design is Nissan's commitment to safety technology. It features ProPILOT 2.0, the next-generation of Nissan's driver assistance and safety technologies. It works by, "engaging the vehicle's navigation system to help maneuver the car on a predefined route on designated roads, the system can assist the driver with passing, lane diversions and lane exiting on multi-lane highways."

Nissan Ariya Concept The Ariya Concept is an electric vehicle.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The system allows for hands-off driving while cursing in a given lane. This is different than autonomous technology, which is traditionally defined as allowing a camera and sensor system to drive a vehicle for its passengers. ProPILOT 2.0 can give a driver audio and visual guidance, and prompts them when they need to put their hands back on the steering wheel.

The car's electric drive system features a dual front/rear motor drive configuration with power to all four wheels. Nissan developed the all-wheel drive system using years of research from other vehicles, including the Nissan GT-R and Patrol. It uses CHAdeMO quick charging technology on the go and supports Nissan Energy technology at home, which uses the vehicle's battery as a backup to the home's power system in the event of an emergency.

Nissan has employed smartphone data transfer, remote preference honing, parking locator, and phone as key technology in the concept.

All of these enhancements give key clues to what buyers will be able to expect from Nissan's coming SUV design. With a new Nissan Rogue, Rogue Sport, and Murano on the horizon in the coming years, we're likely to see many of these technologies in the vehicle. Also, it's probable that Nissan's fresh design language will be translated to the new model, so expect to see thin LED headlamps, a more coupe-like rear, and a larger grille.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There are no coincidences in the automotive world, so it was no surprise that I found myself riding shotgun in a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle prototype in front of SpaceX and Tesla's offices in Los Angeles. Ford's all-electric crossover is their most ambitious electric vehicle project to date. With styling, range, and debut location, they proved that they are targeting Tesla and their customers.

The Mustang Mach-E is, according to Ford, 100-percent Mustang. For those who are used to seeing the Mustang as a sports coupe with rear-wheel drive, an electric crossover with available all-wheel drive bearing the Mustang name might be eyebrow raising.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Mustang Mach-E has many exterior design attributes usually reserved for the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

That skepticism is one of the many reasons why, during a secret reveal ahead of the global debut, Ford shuttled me around Hawthorne, California in one of the Mustang Mach-E prototypes. The company was out to prove to me that they built a vehicle worthy of the Mustang name.

The model Ford put me in was the Mustang Mach-E Premium all-wheel drive, extended range model. That EV runs to 60 mph from a standstill in a hair over 5 seconds. Because electric motors make torque immediately, the car pushes the driver and passengers relentlessly back in their seat as they make that run. The torque makes the car feel faster than it is.

For folks who want to go faster, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance trim should do that same run in around 3 seconds. When the GT Performance goes on sale in early 2021 (late 2020 for the other models), the quickest accelerating Mustang you'll be able to buy will likely be electric.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E interior seats cabin The cabin of the new model is spacious.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On a route around Hawthorne, I was able to experience the car's on-road manners. Even though it was an early prototype, the cabin was quiet. That's in part due to the lack of a motor but also because of the car's three performance modes for the Mach-E – Whisper, Engaged and Unbridled. In Unbridled mode, which is what I experienced, the car allows computer-generated internal combustion engine-like sounds to flow into the cabin when accelerating hard.

Unlike the Jaguar I-Pace's piped-in growl, the Mach-E's sounds natural for a performance car. It doesn't exactly sound like a gasoline-powered car, but it adds a soundtrack to the spirited drive that this author doesn't find obtrusive. In Whisper mode, the car is relatively silent.

Cornering, at least from the passenger seat, felt relatively flat. The low center of gravity of the battery pack helps a ton. Right now, there is no adjustable suspension system, like MagneRide, that is available on other Mustang models.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E infotainment screen steering wheel dashboard Ford has simplified the interior of the car in a very Tesla-esque fashion.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Mustang Mach-E takes many interior cues from Tesla design though many elements are unmistakably from the Ford team. There is a large, center-mounted screen that handles most of the controls of the infotainment system and vehicle functionality. Interestingly, while the center screen handles most of it, there still is an instrument cluster to provide vitals – something Tesla has done away with.

Display vehicles had gobs of space inside, including numerous of storage cubbies for nearly everything. Fit and finish were solid for vehicles this far along in the process and it felt more Tesla Model 3 inside than Mustang.

The new infotainment system supports routing based on how long you'll sit at a charger and which chargers you need to stop at – basically what a Tesla does. Another first for Ford is support for both wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto.

Additionally, the Mustang Mach-E has truly hands-off Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. It'll be an over-the-air update after launch for customers, but there are cameras in the car that watch the driver to make sure they are paying attention. If they are, and the roads are digitally mapped, the Mach-E will handle most of the driving duties for the driver. The system is very similar to how Cadillac's Super Cruise technology works and is not hands-off.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E rear seat back sunroof moonroof panoramic vegan leather The rear seats of the Mustang Mach-E offer more legroom than what you'll find in the Jaguar I-Pace.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's difficult to determine how good a car is going to be based on a ten-minute ride in the passenger seat. However, it is obvious even after that little time that Ford checked all the right boxes during the development of their new EV. This is likely the first viable mainstream competitor to Tesla, and Tesla should consider themselves put on notice.

In short, the Mustang Mach-E should have performance similar to the Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3, but with more rear seat headroom than the I-Pace, and better reliability. It looks far more attractive than the Nissan Leaf or anything the Korean automakers are doing, and since it'll be available in all 50 states, you'll be able to purchase and repair it in a town near you, just like what you could do with an F-150.

Jessica Hawkins, stunt driver, sits behind the wheel of the 2020 Land Rover Defender on the set of 'No Time to Die'.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

When James Bond knocks, you answer. Whether it's Aston Martin or Land Rover, British auto brands have been well represented in the forthcoming James Bond movie "No Time to Die".

The new Land Rover Defender 110 appears alongside Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Ralph Finnes, and Ben Whitshaw. It is featured in a change sequence that showcases the vehicle's prowess in extreme off road conditions. Behind the scenes photos of the action show stunt coordinator Lee Morrison, who has worked on Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones, and James Bond movies, and stunt driver Jessica Hawkins, who competes in the W Series, at work.

The Land Rover Defender 110 driving through thick mud during filming of "No Time to Die."

"Designing and coordinating the action sequences for the Bond franchise requires a non-compromising mindset." said Morrison. "We needed an unstoppable vehicle to help us battle against the elements, steep descents and river crossings so we chose the new Defender. I'm beyond impressed that the Defender is not only back but much, much better!"

The Defender appears alongside the Range Rover Sport SVR, Land Rover Series III, and Range Rover Classic as the Bond character, played by Craig, traverses the globe to rescue a kidnapped scientist.

Land Rover's design team worked closely with Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould to spec the Defender vehicles in the film. They are based on the Defender X model in Santorini Black, with darkened skid pans, 20-inch dark finish wheels, and professional off-road tires. The modes were the first Defender vehicles to be built at Jaguar Land Rover's new production facility in Nitra, Slovakia.

No Time To Die | Land Rover USA www.youtube.com

Land Rover has had a long-standing partnership with EON Productions on the Bond films, going back to 1983 when a Range Rover Convertible appeared in "Octopussy".

The Land Rover Defender 110 featured in "No Time To Die" will be on display for the first time in Los Angeles during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Consumers can see the vehicle at the 2019 Los Angeles International Auto Show between November 20 and December 1, 2019.

"No Time to Die" will be released starting April 2, 2020 in the U.K. and in the U.S on April 10.

The Defender 110 will be priced from $49,900 in the U.S. and will go on sale in the spring.