Nissan fell out of the Detroit headlines as it seemed to be the only big Japanese brand not to have a supercar on display. Things will, of course, be different at the Tokyo motor show later this year, when the maker takes the covers off its production-ready GTR. For now, brand devotees were placated with a compact production SUV called the Rogue, and a wacky miniature minivan concept christened the Bevel
First was the Rogue, Nissan's big Detroit production car unveiling. If it looks like the UK-built Qashqai (see gallery), that's because the two cars are very closely related, but because the Qashqai was judged too small for US-market demands, Nissan went to the trouble of designing the Rogue.
Based on the same Nissan ‘C’ platform as the Qashqai, the Japanese-built Rogue is both longer and wider with extra boot space a particular priority. Two versions – with either front or all-wheel drive - will be on offer in the states, both powered by a 170bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine driving a CVT transmission. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control are standard as are side and curtain airbags and active headrests.
According to Nissan’s American marketing experts, the Rogue has been specifically designed to appeal to men in their early 30s. The company sees a slot in the market because the well-established Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 are seen as ‘female’ vehicles. Apparently, 60-65 per cent of buyers of small SUVs are women, which has led to the Toyota and Honda being pigeon-holed as ‘grocery-getters’.
The Rogue, by contrast, is designed to appeal to men who would like to buy a compact crossover but won’t buy a ‘female’ car.
The car industry’s obsession with youth made the Nissan Bevel that rarest of concepts – one aimed at older people. Described as a ‘dynamic, multi-purpose vehicle’ the Bevel is designed for ‘male empty nesters aged between 45 and 60 years old'.
The concept is aimed at people that Nissan’s American product planners call ‘everyday heroes’ – the DIY-friendly community-minded men of small-town America. Nissan insists that these men don’t need full-size pick-up trucks or MPVs, because they usually travel only with a dog. So, the Bevel has been designed to be driver focused, with a very plush driver’s seat, while the aluminium-framed passenger seats are rather more spartan and can be folded away to create a huge load space.
The Bevel rides on a long wheelbase, has short overhangs and is noticeably wide. The load bay provides power sockets and a charging point for power tools (driven by solar panels), and the tailgate lifts high enough to provide cover for working in the rain. There are two doors on the passenger side opening up to provide a 1.7m (67in) load aperture.