2007 Nissan Bevel Concept

January 7, 2007
Some companies are more than comfortable pushing the design envelope, as Nissan has shown time and again with both concept vehicles and production models, such as the Murano crossover. But the Bevel show car takes even that adventurous automaker way out on the edge.

It’s hard to find the precise category in which to fit the concept vehicle that will debut at the upcoming Detroit auto show. It’s not quite minivan and certainly not an SUV. Even crossover doesn’t quite encompass the Bevel’s radically quirky design. So we’ll go with Nissan’s own description: a multi-purpose vehicle whose “focus is placed strictly on the primary user – male empty-nesters actively engaged in hobbies, recreation, and community service.”


That primary user, by the way, is projected to be a male empty-nester, apparently one self-confident enough to keep explaining precisely what it is he’s driving – and why.


“Bevel is designed as a useful and rewarding vehicle for the ‘Everyday Hero’ – the guy who’s always ready to help out a neighbor, a friend or around his community,” explains Bruce Campbell, the ponytailed vice president of design at Nissan Design America, the automaker’s styling think tank, in La Jolla, Calif.  


There is definitely nothing conventional about Bevel, even its door and window layout. It’s a four-door, yes, but that includes an extra-long one on the driver’s side, a rear hatch, and expansive twin doors on the passenger side, the rear of the two opening suicide-style. The back hatch, with its picture window-size glass, integrates into the roof, creating a cavernous opening. When the hatch opens – to a full six feet, two inches off the ground – a tailgate-style work “bench” extends outward. Nissan claims it is strong enough to sit or stand on.


The show car’s wheelbase measures about four inches longer than the Murano, at 115.4 inches, but with its relatively short overhangs, the overall footprint is surprisingly small, just 173.2 inches, nose-to-tail. But the package is designed to deliver a much bigger interior than you might initially expect.


Seats up, the cabin divides into three distinct zones. The driver gets a futuristic looking bucket that would look at home in a remake of the Jetsons. The rest of the seats can fold flat for carrying all those fishing rods or whatever our hero/driver might need.


Appealing to the modern American male Boomer means loading up with lots of electronic toys, and Bevel delivers with technology ranging from its glass roof-mounted solar panels to drive-by-wire steering, throttle, and braking.


The Bevel’s 20-inch wheels are distinctive, featuring rubber inserts on the outer spoke edges, which add a distinctive look while also protecting against curb damage.


2007 Nissan Bevel Concept

2007 Nissan Bevel Concept

It’s hard to find anything conventional that Nissan designers haven’t tweaked or tamped with, from the asymmetric glass roof, with its distinctive, puck-shaped tie-downs, to the yoke-style steering wheel. Both headlights and taillights are hidden, the rear LCD lamps concealed under the paint job. Instead of door handles, there are touch-sensitive release keypads.


“Our goal in designing the Bevel exterior was to maximize functionality and minimize the use of visual distractions such as door handles, big exhaust pipes, or splashy lighting,” said Campbell . “At the same time, we wanted the little details to reflect Bevel’s utility theme, which is why there is a recurring use of hexagons in the vehicle’s design – reminiscent of a socket or a tool – in the wheels, grille, and even the disc brake venting.”


In concept, Nissan planners imagine Bevel equipped with a fuel-efficient, hybrid-electric V-6 package.


While it’s highly unlikely Bevel will ever make it past the concept-car circuit, some of its design cues and technical features just might make it into production. As Nissan has demonstrated repeatedly, it’s at its most successful when following its own course, rather than me-too design.


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