Features

Concept cars – the Nissan Urge

Nissan keeps promising compact sports cars through its concepts, and failing to deliver. The Urge was one of the most memorable.

It’s difficult to think of a company that has produced more compact sports car concepts – without actually building a single one of them – than Nissan.

In the past fifteen years or so we’ve seen the retro-style Jikoo of 2003, 2005’s front-engine, rear-drive Foria, the electric powered Esflow revealed in 2011, 2013’s IDx Freeflow and Nismo concepts, and the 2013 Bladeglider – which has recently made a reappearance.

It was the Urge concept of 2006 that raised most interest however, as it’s the closest Nissan has got to fielding some kind of rival for the Mazda MX-5 – at the time, Mazda had just launched the third-generation of its roadster.

There were gimmicks, of course. The car was aimed primarily at young drivers based on the results of a dubious survey that concluded the demographic was most interested in ‘technology and gaming’ in their first cars.

As a result, the Urge included a hard-wired Xbox 360 and the then-current racing game PGR 3. If anything dates a car more than a contemporary satnav it’s a contemporary racing game, but the Urge featured the unusual option of being able to control the game through the car’s own steering wheel, throttle and brake pedals.

Much more interesting from an evo perspective was the Urge’s hardware. It was relatively lightweight at 1089kg, and its front-mounted, high-revving, small-displacement engine sent power to the rear wheels through a motorcycle-style six-speed sequential manual gearbox.

Brakes were by Brembo, wheels were a significant 19- and 20-inches in diameter front and rear, and the structure was a compact aluminium spaceframe, around 41cm shorter than a 350Z at the time. Despite this, it had space (in theory) for three, with two up front and a single seat behind.

The overall concept was to incorporate elements of motorcycle design into a car, and the stripped-back bodywork and cockpit, with liberal use of billet aluminium, mesh-finished seats, and rubber flooring, enhanced the effect. The shape didn’t quite have the coherence of similar sports car concepts but with a projected $20,000 price tag it certainly held appeal.

And of course, that was the last we heard of the Urge, just as the Jikoo, Foria, Esflow and IDx have all slid away from production reality. Only the Bladeglider – a car unlikely to hit that affordable price point promised by the Urge – seems in any way likely, and it breaks well free from the classic sports car layout (and potential for inexpense) we wish was more common.

Anyway, we’re placing our bets on what the next Nissan concept car will be. Compact, front-engined, rear-drive sports car, anyone?

Recommended

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year
Type 131 render
Lotus

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year

All-new sports car to rival the iconic Porsche 911 and set the blueprint for Lotus's future models
25 Jan 2021
Next-generation Nissan Z revealed in patent images
Nissan Z Proto patent front
Nissan 370Z

Next-generation Nissan Z revealed in patent images

We’ve already seen it in concept-form, but these patent renders offer a first look at the model in production spec
15 Jan 2021
New Alpine A110 goes electric
Alpine ranges
Alpine A110

New Alpine A110 goes electric

French sports car to be replaced by battery electric sports car co-developed by Lotus.  
14 Jan 2021
Audi TT review
Audi TT Coupe review
Audi TT coupe

Audi TT review

The Audi TT is still sharp to look at and comes with a lovely interior, but still doesn't hit the right notes on a twisting road
13 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year
Type 131 render
Lotus

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year

All-new sports car to rival the iconic Porsche 911 and set the blueprint for Lotus's future models
25 Jan 2021
Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s
Naturally aspirated engines - group
Supercars

Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s

The naturally aspirated engine is capable of stirring emotions a turbocharged motor can only dream of. We celebrate the best of the breed.
22 Jan 2021
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS buying guide
Ferrari

Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide

With a little help from a certain private eye, the 308 GTB/GTS would become Ferrari’s best-selling model. Here’s our essential guide
25 Jan 2021