- Datsun Z-Series(1562)
If there's a trend in the auto industry we can firmly get behind, it's the small, light and affordable rear-drive coupe. The positive critical reception to the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins has encouraged other manufacturers to look at building their own rear drivers, and even a few to show actual concept cars based on the idea. The Chevrolet Code 130R from 2012 and more recently, the Nissan IDx twins that were first shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show both come to mind, as does the brand-new Kia GT4 Stinger Concept.
Nissan trotted out the IDx Nismo and the IDx Freeflow for another showing in Detroit and we'll admit to being totally smitten with both cars. Again. The duo draw inspiration from the iconic Datsun 510, a lightweight, affordable rear-driver that remains a cult favorite decades after production ended.
Now, a report from our friends at AutoWeek reveals that we may, possibly, hopefully see a production IDx, provided fans make a strong enough case for it. "It's in the plan," Nissan product boss Andy Palmer told AW. According to the report, Palmer said the IDx is "into the first sage of the development process. The next stage is project validation and then looking at the business case. It's no one's intent to waste millions of the company's money, so obviously we have a good feeling about this one."
We're not sure if someone from The Adjustment Bureau stopped by Nissan's PR department to explain the IDx Nismo and IDx Freeflow concepts, but the company's odd press release can't diminish our love for these two show favorites. We had been told to look out for an unnamed Datsun 510 BRE homage, and once we saw the brothers IDx, we knew we'd found them. But the press release doesn't mention anything about the Datsun 510 Brock Racing Enterprises, nor does it mention one Mr. Peter Brock, the man who won two Trans-Am championships in the Seventies for the nascent Japanese budget brand.
Instead, it declares that the cars were the result of a co-creation product development process with "digital natives," said natives being the whippersnappers born after 1990. Nissan says it worked with the young'uns to create two different expressions of "their desire for a basic, authentic configuration for a car." If that's true, it appears that what the kiddies really want are... two different homages to the Datsun 510 BRE that Peter Brock used to win two championships in the seventies for the nascent Japanese brand.
The IDx Freeflow - the "ID" is for "identification," the "x" is "the variable representing the new values and dreams born through communication" - takes the casual approach, with a light khaki exterior hue, a minimalist interior decked out in denim and a console shifter that works a continuously variable transmission. The IDx Nismo is out for blood, from its crimson interior to its five-point harness to its bolt-on flares and sidepipes. We aren't told what the digital natives requested for powerplants, but that's alright; if this is what "co-creation" looks like, we're not entirely against it except where that "CVT" is involved.
The Datsun name may have long since been replaced by Nissan, but the old brand is making a comeback - in certain markets, at least. Nissan relaunched the Datsun brand in July as its new budget brand for developing markets with the debut of the Go hatchback, and has now followed up with the addition of the larger Go+.
Set to be built in Indonesia at Nissan's plant in Purwakarta, the Go+ debuts today in the capital of Jakarta as the second model in the new Datsun lineup. The seven-passenger minivan features flexible seating in a compact form 13 feet long, powered by an unspecified 1.2-liter engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
Nissan isn't saying much else about the model, but hopes the new Datsun twins will account for half of its sales in Indonesia within three years. The low price target for both models - set to come in at less than 100 million rupiah ($8,700) - ought to help it get there. The lineup is then scheduled to reach other markets, starting with India, Russia and South Africa next year.
Datsun, Nissan's new sub-brand for emerging markets, has announced plans to unveil its second model. Its first, the Go, was unveiled almost two months ago, and promised affordable, connected motoring for five in a handsome hatchback body. Datsun is following that up with a pair of new models for Indonesia.
The first of these two new vehicles will be shown on September 17 in Jakarta, eschewing the typical auto show debut. It's targeted at so-called "risers," the nickname for a group of highly aspirational customers in the Indonesian market. Datsun developed it locally with help from Nissan, and it'll cost under 100 million Indonesian rupiah (about $8,900 at today's rates).
We'll have the full boatload of information on the newest member of the Datsun family when it debuts on September 17. Scroll on to read the full press release from Datsun.
In March of 2012, Nissan announced the return of its historic Datsun brand. Datsun used to represent the Nissan brand in a number of markets, but its badge hasn't been worn on a new model since 1981. In 2013, though, it has been relaunched as the Japanese manufacturer's budget offering in the emerging markets of India and Russia.
The model that will lead that charge, at least in India, is the Go, a car that pays tribute to the very first Datsun, the DAT-GO.
The operative term with the Datsun brand is: "budget offering." Don't step inside the Go and expect beautiful hides or brushed metals (it's being sold in India, after all). The instrument cluster features a simple speedometer, while the five-speed manual and the center stack above it are rather barren. It's not without luxuries, though, as iPod-style connectivity is available through a Mobile Docking Station.
Farewell, Zach Bowman; Pikes Peak 2013; Datsun; 2014 Ram lineup
Episode #339 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and it's the last rodeo for Zach Bowman before he departs for other pastures. The crew this week consists of Dan Roth, Zach Bowman and Jeff Ross, who talk about the astounding records set at this year's Pike's Peak hill climb, the return of the Datsun brand name and the recently-announced 2014 Ram truck lineup. Of course, we start with the garage and end with your questions and comments. For those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. You can follow along after the jump with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #339:
Nissan's Datsun nameplate revival will begin with two models bound for the Indian market. Nissan has released sketches of a five-door hatchback based on the Micra (codenamed K2) and a top-down view of a hood that could potentially be from a sedan.
The company's press release says all will be revealed on July 15 in New Delhi, India. The Datsun lineup will be first offered in 2014 to that country's ride-deprived residents as well as Indonesia and Russia. Later in 2014, South Africa will join the list.
We've heard Nissan plans for Datsuns to share platforms with company-owned Lada. In January, we heard the projected price tag could be around $3,000 USD to compete with Chinese imports. The official press release (which can be read in full below) says nothing about either of these reports, however.
A few weeks ago, we bid a fond happy 40th anniversary to the automotive dark ages of 1973-84 that have come to be known as "The Malaise Era" - the performance ice-age when 160 horsepower was a lot and a 0-60 time of under 10 seconds was remarkable. Like music in the 1980s, everything in automobiledom didn't suck, however. There were a few bright spots. Here are five of our favorites:
1976-79 Porsche 930, aka 911 Turbo Carrera (above)
Photo Credit: Dorotheum
You can add Fiat to the admittedly short list of automakers considering a low-cost brand to rival Dacia. The inexpensive Eastern European brand from Renault-Nissan has performed on the balance sheet like a premium model line, and the money the alliance is taking off the table is encouraging other players to deal themselves in. Pretty soon Nissan's Datsun sub-brand will join the Dacia party, going on sale in Russia, Indonesia and India and will claim even more rubles, rupiahs and rupees for the parent company. Volkswagen recently said it will make a decision this year on a budget line for the Chinese market. With the euthanasia of Lancia and plans to move the Fiat brand upmarket, company CEO Sergio Marchionne wonders aloud to Automotive News Europe whether there could be room for a new budget brand underneath Fiat.
We're told that the initiative has been in the idea box for five years and even moved to the stage of name considerations, like Innocenti, but worries about profit kept it from realization. If such a range were to be developed, Marchionne says it couldn't be built in Italy and stay within budget, and the company is "analyzing its manufacturing capacity outside of Europe to see if a low-cost brand is viable."
Four years ago, Renault confirmed that it would partner with India's Bajaj Auto to develop a rival to the Tata Nano. At the time, as everyone waited for the Tata Nano to arrive, you could have used a Richter scale to measure the tremors the executive suites of any automaker with an interest in the low end of emerging markets. Then the Nano, still the cheapest car in the world, didn't sell so well - at the end of last year its sales were just six percent of its most conservative projections - and everyone seemed content to let Tata spend the money to figure out if there really was a market for the cheapest car in the world.
Renault believes there is, kind of. Automotive News Europe reports that it will partner with Nissan to build two low-priced cars for emerging markets, one for €3,000 ($3,888 U.S.) and another for €5,000 ($6,400 U.S.). The price of the least expensive offering is nearly $1,400 more than a Nano, which costs $2,500, and that can't be considered a small sum in comparison. But one of the hindsight knocks on the Nano has been that even in emerging markets buyers don't want a car whose biggest lure is that it is cheap; they'd rather give their aspirations a bit more of a workout.
Renault's offerings are scheduled to hit the non-Western market in late 2014, which is coincidentally the same year that will see the return of the budget-minded and emerging-market-specific Datsun nameplate. They'll be built in Renault facilities in Chennai, India, with no mention made of Bajaj this time around.