Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Nissan Muran-oh-dear-god

As the adage goes, you have some hits and you have some misses.

When it comes to Nissan’s recent history, the hits are manifold (350Z, original Cube, Qashqai, anything called GT-R and, latterly, the Juke).

Therefore, the misses are all the more bizarre and I really can’t think of a miss more spectacular than the Murano Cross Cabriolet.

Micro-niching (my term, I think), the product strategy from which the Muran-oh-f**k has sprung, has been running its course in the car industry for a while, and has seen manufacturers targeting ever smaller segmentations with (mostly) previously unimagined combinations of proportion and package.

When it works, it can be great, delivering engaging, interesting product concepts that resonate with the market. The first Mercedes CLS, for example, was a coupe + sedan winner (the second one, not so much…) and Nissan’s own Juke is proving another early runaway success thanks to its fabulous combination of SUV + Coupe + General Smallness.

But sometimes it goes horribly wrong. BMW thought it would be fun to combine hatchback + MPV + SUV with the 5GT (surely the mini-cab of 2015) and many of us lost our breakfast. At the other end of the price scale, Citroen has just given us the DS4 (hatchback + SUV + coupe), surely one of the most mundanely psychotic cars you will ever come across.

The Muran-oh-my-god Cross Cabriolet, however, is the first ever SUV + coupe + cabriolet. Surely the product of a mary jane-mediated afternoon at Nissan’s California design facility, it’s just been launched at the L. A. auto show. It had been rumoured to exist for a while but no one thought Nissan crazy enough to actually put it in to production. We all thought wrong.

I could fill pages with words about the stylistic and conceptual challenges it presents but what I’m really struggling to get my head around is just who is going to buy this thing. My mind is settling on one or two suburbs of L.A.. And perhaps the Gold Coast of Australia. By divorced, perma-tanned, bottle-blonde real-estate agents.

Given a sales chart that’s probably going to look like it’s tracking a brick off a cliff, Nissan might soon start to wonder who is going to buy this thing too… Answers to them (and me) on a postcard.

Category: Design Strategy

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6 Responses

  1. Fletch says:

    Strong sales also forecast for the Gold Coast of Florida, Marbella in Spain and Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney. 😉

  2. nick says:

    Ahh, not quite, there was the Valmet Honda CRV a few years ago plus a god awful Karmann concept with a reverse rake rear window in lurid purple. Oh those wacky Finns!

    And when was mint green with warm gerey no4 hood ever cool?

  3. Drew says:

    Nick! Can’t believe it’s taken this long for you to post a comment here! Welcome!

    The roaring fire of DSUD is more a warm glow now, but it’s nice to have you along to the party.

    If I was being uncharitable, I’d tell you that the Valmet CR-V and the Karmann SUC (at least they got the name right) were both 4/5-doors and that, in my defence, I said that the Muran-oh-you guys-make-me-laugh is a Coupe mash-up. But only if I was being uncharitable.

    Instead, I raise my glass to you for providing more fuel for the numpty-niche fire. Chin chin!

  4. nick says:

    thought I’d give Massimo a run for his money. He’s gone quiet now though hasn’t he?

  5. Drew says:

    Who can blame him; there’s not really been much for him to hook into (although this post should be like a red rag to a bull). In other news, nice work on the Evoque piece on CDN. We may disagree on the long term wisdom of drafting in La Beckham but it’s a cracking piece of design.

  6. Massimo says:

    Ok, let’s start saying that i wasn’t the guy the went silence…

    our Australian friends, decided to re-appear and without give an email…

    but Australian always think they are always in the down under….far far away..

    to Drew, Nick and other friends….here i come again……

    Shall we start from Shanghai Motorshow 2011……….

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