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A production, rear-wheel-drive small sports car is difficult for the automaker to bring to fruition, a company official says, as its current RWD platforms underpin expensive models.
IDx RWD concept cars shown at 2013 Tokyo show.
NASHVILLE, TN – Despite reports it is on the way soon, a smallsports car remains an uncertainty, a top company official says.
Pierre Loing, vice president-product planning forAmericas, says a small, rear-wheel-drive sports car, affordable enough to compete with the under-$30,000 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, is a conundrum for the automaker, whose current RWD platforms underpin much more expensive models.
“It’s not easy to do, (and) if you do something like this and you manage to do a vehicle at (a low) price, what else would you do on this platform? Because frankly to do a platform for 50,000 or 60,000 (units) a year – it’s not worth it,” Loing tells WardsAuto here during a recent Nissan full-line media event.
Reports, based on comments of Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer, have suggested Nissan would retail a production version based on one of two concepts as soon as 2016.
The IDx Freestyle and IDx Nismo concept cars debuted at last year’s Tokyo auto show, with both theoretically powered by turbocharged 4-cyl. gasoline engines. The Freestyle was seen by Nissan as well-suited for a 1.2L-1.5L turbo 4-cyl., while the Nismo’s likely engine would be a 1.6L with direct injection.
“Will (the IDx) become something or not is debated, but certainly not (by 2016),” Loing says.
Subaru parentHeavy Industries and co-developed the BRZ and FR-S, known as the Toyota 86 overseas, due to the same issues Loing cites.
Both Japanese automakers had the desire to create an affordable, RWD sports car, but had difficulty making the business case work for the traditionally low-volume vehicle type.
Subaru led engineering of the vehicles, whileheaded design, although it also contributed its D4S port- and direct-injection system for each car.
Loing believes Nissan’s Juke CUV is a competitor of sorts to the BRZ and FR-S, as it has similar performance characteristics, as well as a DI turbocharged 4-cyl.
The Juke’s 1.6L makes 188 hp and 177 lb.-ft. (240 Nm) of torque. The BRZ and FR-S deliver a similar 197 hp and 150 lb.-ft. (203 Nm) of torque from their turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. boxer engines.