24 March 2005

Nissan’s transformation into a builder of desirable cars continues with this Sport Concept, which will be unveiled at the New York Auto Show on Thursday. Based on the stretched Micra platform that will also underpin the Tone mini-MPV later this year, the Sport Concept is Nissan’s reaction to the growing popularity of cars like the Mini Cooper and the US-market Scion tC among young Americans.

The Sport Concept is based on the five-door Japanese-market Tiida, which uses a stretched Micra platform, although its seriously butch bodykit hides virtually all similarities, bar the light clusters, bonnet and basic proportions. The Sport Concept gets 20-inch six-spoke alloys, four individual sports seats with four-point harness and speakers built into the parcel shelf.

Although there’s no word on engine specifications, the Tiida is only available with a 108bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder, with a new 1.6-litre unit on the way. Anything much larger won’t fit into the engine bay, slightly undermining the sporting character suggested by the styling. Nissan North America has announced it will be launching a car of this size next year, although product planning boss Jack Collins would only say that the Sport Concept ‘would be right at home in Nissan showrooms in the not-too-distant future.’ If it does enter production, the chances of a UK launch are promising, as Nissan has declared all its new models should be fit for launch in any worldwide market if they can make a profit. In Europe, Nissan has said there will be up to three replacements for the Almera, and it has already confirmed the Tone and Qashqai 4x4.

The Sport Concept follows on from the well-received Azeal concept for an entry-level coupé that was revealed at January’s Detroit show.

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