First Look: Nissan Invitation Concept

Geneva preview for sleek B-segment hatchback.

by on Feb.06, 2012

The Nissan Invitaton will debut in Geneva next month.

When Nissan said it was extending an invitation for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show we didn’t initially realize it had a double meaning.

Along with 10,000 other journalists, we’re on the list to attend the maker’s upcoming preview at PALExpo, where it will unveil the Nissan Invitation Concept, a slick little B-segment hatchback that likely provides a hint of where it’s going with its future subcompact 5-door family.

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Could this provide a hint of the next-generation hatchback version of the Versa – after the launch of the more sedate Versa sedan last year – or perhaps something entirely new?  A spokesman would only quote the official line: “Nissan will debut more than 20 new or redesigned models in the Americas in the next 24 months, with many exciting details to be provided in the coming months. Stay tuned.”

Nissan plans to introduce a score of new vehicles during the next two years.

There’s no question the maker is looking to use edgy design to differentiate itself in the B-segment much as it has with larger hatchbacks and crossovers, such as the Murano.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Nissan Invitation Concept is the new honeycomb grille, its chrome frame flowing into the accent lights that surround new LED headlamps.  The hood, doors and fenders are more aggressively sculpted than in prior Nissan small car offerings.  That includes a character line Nissan has dubbed the “Squash Line.”

“The name we have given to this concept is self-explanatory. It is designed to be inviting thanks to its sensuous exterior design and generous and comfortable interior space, cleverly packaged within compact overall dimensions,” said François Bancon, Deputy Division General Manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning Division.

The Nissan Invitation will be the first B-segment model to feature the Around View Monitor system.

The overall look suggests that the Invitation is close to an upcoming production model, which means only a few likely changes – most notably the LED headlamps which are still a little too costly for this segment of the market.

But Nissan promises plenty of the high-tech features small car buyers are coming to expect, such as the maker’s Around View Monitor, as well as Nissan Safety Shield Technologies, which, the maker says, “interacts with the driving environment keeping the driver aware of what is happening around the car.”

The maker is likely to wait until next month’s Geneva Motor Show to provide specific powertrain details though it hints that the “most frugal model” will be able to meet the ultra-low CO2 emissions target of less than 100 grams per kilometer, or g/km.  It would wear the new “Pure Drive” badge Nissan has created for its cleanest models.

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