Nissan has revealed the first details of its new global small car project at a briefing at its new global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.
The new ‘V-platform’ project has been designed primarily to make financial sense in emerging markets, while being sophisticated enough for Western Europe.
Usually, Nissan says, carmakers take an existing platform and de-content it for use in price sensitive emerging markets. This project sees a platform engineered primarily for emerging markets, being adopted for mature markets.
The first three vehicles off the V-platform will be a replacement for the Micra, a small saloon car and a mini-MPV. Production of the first models will begin simultaneously next year in China, India and Thailand.
Production has been almost totally ‘localised’ with 90 per cent of components being made locally in China and 80 per cent in India and China.
Two more factories will also build future V-platform cars, but they have not yet been named. The platform has also been engineered for sale in North America.
The V-platform will underpin cars up to 1600kg in weight and with a maximum torque output of 148lb ft. This means that the largest engine fitted to the family of small cars will be a 1.5-litre turbodiesel unit.
Engineered by Nissan in Japan, the V-platform project focuses on reductions in both weight and in the number of components that make up the future models.
The V-cars have 18 per cent fewer parts than Nissan’s previous small cars, the company says. The complete dashboard assembly is made up of just 28 parts instead of 56 and the seats are now made up of 50 parts, down from 85.
Much effort has gone into maximising refinement, in light of the use of lightweight construction methods. Engineering tricks include more rigid floor pressings, isolation of suspension from the floor and shapes pressed in the car’s roof skin to reduce resonance. Even the front chassis rails have been ‘tuned’ to prevent them contributing to poor refinement.
The majority of V-platform cars will be powered by new ‘low-friction’ three-cylinder engines, which Autocar understands will come in 0.9- and 1.2-litre capacities. It’s possible most versions of the motor will get turbochargers.
Nissan engineers say the combination of lightweight engineering and torquey engines could deliver significantly better fuel economy than rival vehicles.
The company has also engineered a new, very compact, ‘low-friction’ CVT transmission, which has a much higher top ratio than normal.
The V-platform has been primarily engineered for comfort on the demanding roads in emerging markets such as India and China. For Western versions of the V-cars, extra emphasis will be placed on more refinement and body control.
The Micra replacement was also unveiled to a small number of journalists in Yokohama, including Autocar. However, no photography was allowed.
The new car’s look is relatively close to that of the outgoing Micra, but designer Makata Yamane says the new model – which has not yet been named – is ‘gender-free’ and ‘not so cute as the Micra’.
The interior – which was not revealed – is described as ‘simple but not cheap’ and will be common in all global markets.