Nov 24, 2010
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.