Nakamura’s replacement, Albaisa, joined Infiniti in 2013 and designed the QX30 and QX50, as well as the Q80 Inspiration concept car. We caught up with Nakamura at the Geneva motor show, where he revealed details of many of the projects he’ll be handing over to his successor.
You’ve just facelifted the second-gen Qashqai. Are you working on its replacement?
“The next one is much more of a challenge because we have to make progress but maintain the Qashqai feel. It’s not a case of reinventing the Qashqai because it’s still the bestselling crossover. We don’t just protect today’s strengths; we have to go further. We’ve nearly finished it – it’s two or three years away.”
Do you need to improve the interior for the next Qashqai?
“The interior of the next one is not anything like today’s. It’s very different [in areas] such as the size of the screens. It’s an interior, more than an exterior, revolution. Exterior technology is just headlights and taillights, so there’s nothing new you can really show in terms of technology. But with the interior, there are so many elements you can use to show the advantages of technology.”
How do you stop interiors becoming too complicated?
“The interior is becoming more important than before. ProPilot [Nissan’s autonomous driving technology] is currently at level one; level two will come in the next Qashqai. The HMI [human-machine interface] is being designed from the outset for autonomous drive. The screen is becoming larger and will have more information on it. The number of switches won’t increase; we control how many there are. There are fewer switches but more functions. Interior functions will be much more advanced than before.”
Is it harder to replace the Juke than the Qashqai?
“The Juke must maintain its distinctiveness and funkiness. We try to be as quirky as possible. We’ll make a big step with the design, but it will still be recognisable as a Juke. Key elements must remain, such as the character of the face and proportions. Smaller cars are easier, they can be quite aggressive [in their design].”
Is a replacement for the GT-R planned?