Earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show, Nissan unveiled its subcompact Sway concept showing a potential design direction for Nissan production cars in this class.
Nissan said it had the European market in mind when styling the fuel-sipping conventionally powered vehicle, but Nissan’s global design chief Shiro Nakamura was reported as saying this could lead to a car for the U.S. market as well.
Dimensionally, the 101.8-inch wheelbase Sway is a little bit shorter than Nissan’s current Versa Note hatchback and stylistically, it’s a far sight trendier.
“Think of it as almost a small Murano,” said Nakamura to Automotive News.
Taking its read live from the show, and speaking with Nissan, Automotive News suggests the Sway could lead to a new Versa Note which could be due for redesign by 2018.
Nissan might also be looking to drop the “Versa” portion from the Versa Note, and create a separate identity for the car that’s now available as both a sedan and hatchback. It might, AN offers, eventually become a hatchback called just the “Note.”
Ultimately, this is conjecture, as would be whether it might even be offered in hybrid trim.
Nissan currently only retains one hybrid vehicle in its fleet; the Pathfinder, so it’s even less clear whether or not the Sway will follow the hybrid route or remain simply a fuel sipper.
Nissan has until now largely conceded the hybrid market to Toyota and to a lesser extent Honda. It did have an Altima Hybrid a couple years back but discontinued it. It also is quite competent in its Infiniti lineup which uses hybrid power as a performance enhancer for vehicles like the Q50 hybrid, Q70 Hybrid, and QX60 Hybrid.
Nissan’s alternative energy strategy has focused more on EVs like the Leaf, while lack of hybrids and plug-in hybrids suggest a gaping hole in a potential product line.
As fuel economy mandates tighten this decade the idea of hybridization is not out of the question, and certainly within Nissan’s engineering capabilities.
Ultimately, we will just have to wait and see what Nissan does for these open questions.