The Carchive: the 1998 Nissan KYXX Concept

20140807_185647 During Tuesday’s trawl through the ocean of flotsam and jetsam that is The Carchive, we visited Nissan’s 1985 vision of the luxury car future, the CUE-X. Today, to stay with some kind of theme, we’re winding a little way forward to see how the Japanese company’s thinking was in 1998. It’s the Nissan KYXX Concept. This brochure is a really annoying size. It’s each page is A3 so it juts out from all the other A4 size publications and is forever creasing itself up, and for the trickiness of storage that it presents, I doubt that many copies have survived. 20140807_185713 “destroy. shock. amaze. surprise. defy convention. upset. overwhelm. jolt. explore. shake up. disorient. catch off guard. astonish. terrify. alarm. dismay. astound. ambush. smash. throw a curve. uncover. startle. electrify. flabberghast. dazzle” These are all just words, but somehow were supposed to convey the emotions that Nissan were hopeful would be inspired by this KYXX concept car. Except Dismay. Strange choice, that one. And the Shift or Caps Lock keys on their board was clearly playing up. This car was very obviously product of the nineties, where size was no longer something to be proud of, and environmental awareness was more right-on than it had ever been in the past. The major manufacturers were literally falling over themselves to show what could be done on a small footprint, and with every concept car released, the claims made about them became ever more audacious. 20140807_185656 “A car that attacked the idea that you cannot create space where it’s not possible to create space. And made it work. Then they wrapped it in an irresistible “drive-me” shape. Quite simply there is nothing like the sporty, cab-forward KYXX” There really wasn’t. And, crucially, sixteen years on there still isn’t. Elements of the styling clearly did seep through to the production line, the Nissan corporate face is plain to see. Yet, strangely, the silhouette of the car seems to share more with the Ford Focus which was already in production, than with any other car to come after. Never mind, though; with the KYXX it was what’s on the inside that counts. 20140807_185705 “….a new expression of roominess, one they termed “Emotional space” which in short means the bigger the perceived space, the deeper the emotion and the wider the experience” This strikes me as slightly nonsensical; I suspect that going up in a P51 Mustang would be a pretty damn rich experience, and one which wouldn’t be any more vivid for a more spacious cockpit. Nevertheless, interior space was in abundance, even though you did have to live with an all-pervading and slightly unsettling shade of reptillian green, with yellow highlights. It’s interesting to remark upon the dashboard design, which rubbishes the thought that instrumentation should be placed ahead of the driver, e.g in the direction he’s supposed to be looking in (This whole dicking-about-with-the-location-of-the-instruments thing is one of my pet subjects, design-wise, and one which If I continued to moan about could probably fill the internet to capacity with my ramblings). And also how French, namely Renaultish the whole lot looks, right down to the steering wheel which would look right at home in a Megane. The Renault-Nissan link is a historic one. Naturally, all the de rigeur technologies were there, including BIRDVIEW navigation, as well as e-mail facilities. E-Mail was big in the late ’90s. But the list of innovations doesn’t even approach the list found in the CUE-X of thirteen years earlier. 20140807_185721 “…next-generation direct-injection turbodiesel. Featuring a variable turbocharger and breakthrough M-Fire technology, this ultra-compact powerplant develops an impressive 80hp” It seemed inevitable that this thing should be diesel powered. In the late ’90s diesel was heralded as the salvation of the motorist; every concept wheeled out seemed to be diesel fuelled…. ironic when you fast-forward to today and see cities levying extra charges on diesel powered cars for all those horrible hydrocarbons which belch out; irrespective of the lack of CO2 output… altogether now “I Told You So!!”. And that about wraps up just how exciting the KYXX truly was. A small, unremarkable looking car with an enormous green interior, with a diesel engine. But then again, I guess they could be excused a little bit of extreme sensibleness once in a while… what with all those lovely GT-Rs. (Disclaimer; all images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Images remain copyright of Nissan, who seem to have upped their concept car game somewhat lately)

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