More stories related to Geneva Motor ShowFurthering its reputation for testing boundaries, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will use the Geneva auto show to gauge reaction to the Zaroot SUV concept.

Nissan wants a piece of Europe’s burgeoning SUV market.

The Zaroot is an authentic SUV in avant-garde skin. It incorporates the auto maker’s electronically controlled 4-wheel-drive system, but with deliberately radical styling to show how the compact SUV of the future could look.

Gullwing doors dominate the profile, extending from the A-pillar to the rear of the passenger compartment. There is no B-pillar. The short-nosed SUV has the “arch graphic” roofline that is becoming a Nissan signature.

Nissan Zaroot

While the doors are big enough to load just about anything, the downside is they are too big to open in a crowded parking space. To address that, designers created a shortened door that is only a little deeper than the side window. Its trailing edge finishes in line with the seat cushion, where it meets an extended sill. The sill automatically drops away under the vehicle when the door is opened.

The side windows are fixed, but have a “toll-ticker” cutout. And the doors have no outside handles – they open via an electric switch.

Inside, an extended C-shaped center console appears to float between the two front seats, and there is extra room between the unusually thin front and rear seats for an airy feel in this 4-seater.

The interior is a mix of earthy colors and unusual textures, including crocodile-skin leather seat coverings and ribbed vinyl flooring.

“We wanted to create an SUV which looked as unlike the traditional square 4x4 as possible,” says Ryouichi Kuraoka, product chief designer for the Zaroot.

The name plays on the words “root” and “route.”

Kuraoka says the Zaroot is not a “fanciful styling exercise,” but a response to what existing SUV owners say they want.

apriddle@primediabusiness.com