4 October 2004

The Tone, a tall five-door hatchback that is based on a stretched version of the Micra’s B-platform, will definitely be built in Britain from 2006 at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.

It’s a decision that has preserved 1000 jobs and will add another 200. It will also mean a £125m investment in the Sunderland factory. Britain’s reluctance to join the Euro and the resulting unfavourable exchange rate had cast doubt on the plant winning the work, despite its excellent productivity record — it is Europe’s most productive car plant. A Japanese version of the same car — called Note — appears next year, which is why the Tone has been announced so far ahead of its 2006 launch. The Tone unveiled at Paris is a concept, although interior designer Shu Takahama says that much of it will make production. Although it bears a resemblance to the smaller Renault Modus, Takahama says it was designed entirely in isolation, and that Nissan’s designers were not influenced by the Modus. ‘It’s a car mainly for young families,’ he said, ‘with a sporty feel that’s more aggressive and emotional than the Micra’s.’ The Almera stays in production at Sunderland, partly because it’s the best-selling car in Russia.

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