IS it elevation or evolution?

Either way, Nissan has got the industry talking about its IMs, described as ‘a completely new type of car – an elevated sports sedan’ which has just been unveiled at the  North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

More of a sedan than a crossover, the IMs concept’s proportions create a vehicle segment all of its own.

Developed through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, it is defined by its pure electric-vehicle identity, with the battery located under the body, elevating cabin height.

Its stretched interior space, a result of the vehicle’s extended wheelbase, features unique 2+1+2 seating with pivoting front seats and a super-flexible rear seat that can be either a three-seat bench, or, once the outboard seats are folded, an indulgent Premier Seat in the rear centre, ‘worthy of world-class executive travel.’

“Advances in electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving have allowed our designers to break free of the platform and packaging rules that constrain traditional passenger vehicles,” Nissan design vice president Alfonso Albaisa said.

“The IMs explores the limits of sedan design with an approach that elevates the category in both look and functionality.”

Embracing the three pillars of Nissan Intelligent Mobility – Intelligent Driving, Intelligent Power and Intelligent Integration – the IMs moves toward the creation of a sustainable mobile society centred on electric vehicles, autonomous driving and connectivity.

Its powertrain consists of dual electric motors (front and rear) and a fast charging 115 kWh battery that generates 360kW and 800Nm, ensuring that the concept car will not only keep up with modern-day sports sedans but leave most of them for dead.

Also, it can travel an estimated 600km on a single charge.

The powertrain utilises a high-performance all-wheel-drive system, resulting in an ideal front/rear weight balance, exceptional traction and cornering performance.

It has advanced air suspension that adapts to different driving situations, said to provide a smooth ride and flat cornering characteristics.

More than sporty, the sleek shape also results in a low drag coefficient. Additionally, various body panels, including the fenders, front spoiler, rocker panels and a full-length undertray, provide effective downforce and minimal lift at high speeds.

And you have to love the roof: It was, Nissan says, ‘inspired by the shape of the moon, with the gold-coloured anodised brushed aluminium roof rail accents suggesting the ring of moonlight created by an eclipse.’

In autonomous driving mode, the IMs’ headlights and rear combination light turn blue and the lighting blinks continuously on the centre of the front and rear to notify pedestrians and other drivers of its autonomous status. 

The exterior also features deep door sections, a three-dimensional section bonnet, holographic rear taillights, an integrated rear spoiler and a kicked-up rear bumper.

The B-pillarless 4-door body includes reverse-opening rear doors for easy interior access, a super-thin roof structure, invisible door handles with ‘eClinch super-flush side windows’ and wing cameras in place of outside rearview mirrors.

With a priority on the vehicle’s interior space, all powertrain components have been tucked away under the cabin floor.

“With the raised, flat-bottom platform and absence of interior restrictions, there’s a sense of almost levitating, as if you’re riding on a magic carpet,”  Albaisa said.

Then there’s the instrument panel and door trim, which reflect ‘a spaceship to the moon,’ with the use of dark fabrics and colours animated with light streaks suggesting moonlight and shadow.

The IMs is connected to real-world sensing information, which is gathered and reflected from the virtual world, and displayed before the driver and passenger’s eyes for a rich mixed-reality experience.

People will also be able to connect with each other through the virtual world and Omni-Sensing.

The technology can help drivers see the around corners, visualise precise information about traffic jams – including causes – and determine alternative routes for a stress-free journey.

Lonely drivers may even enjoy the company of a ‘passenger’ from the virtual world in the form of a three-dimensional augmented-reality avatar inside the car.