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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Nissan Bevel Proves Not All Tools are Cool

Nissan‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show concept, the Bevel, offered a well-thought-out interior intended to appeal to 45-to-60-year-old guys looking to be the neighborhood hero, who have the tools on hand to get you into your unlocked house, or who may step in to help get home that unexpected large purchase, or who have a doggie kennel for saving lost dogs.


Or, more realistically, a vehicle for guys whose leisure activities tend toward working with their hands or outside, or whose primary job requires a vehicle that holds more stuff than people. These buyers travel solo most often, but can use a tailgate that lifts high enough to provide cover in the rain, unique storage areas in an easy-to-clean cargo zone, or a pair of 110v power-tool-recharging outlets. Instead of roof racks, six “pucks” popped up to reveal tie-down hooks, creating a system would carry a load of up to 250 pounds. To assuage the contradictory appeal of V6 torque and green powerplants, the Bevel was designed to accommodate a V6-hybrid powertrain that Nissan has under development.

According to Nissan, there are men in the empty-nest age group that need a multi-purpose vehicle configured for cargo and work rather than people hauling. SUVs and minivans are all geared toward moving people. The research may be onto something. But these buyers could just as easily convert a Scion xB; they exist, but the slice is so narrow they may exist in the thousands rather than tens of thousands. It might be tough to justify a whole new vehicle around this group. But should Nissan bring the next home-market Cube to the States as is often rumored, incorporating some of these interior solutions as options could enhance overall marketability of the box.


In any event, we can’t imagine many who would want the utility badly enough to be wrapped in Bevel’s sheetmetal. As clever as the interior might be, the exterior is not. The Ford Airstream concept offered asymmetric doors and windows, too, but Ford’s arrangement was pleasing to the eye. Bevel’s unusual cargo hatch made for a sharp look to the rear three-quarter, but in profile and front views it just didn’t work. Bevel’s nose and tail look too abruptly chopped off. The nicest thing that has been said so far about the Bevel’s grille shape is that it looks like a dustbuster snout.

Interior Zones Tailored for Driver Comfort, Command, and Utility
The interior was all about form following function and conceptually split into three zones. The driver’s area was the comfort zone, with a fixed seat wrapped in leather. The instrument panel also moved up and out of the way for easier ingress/egress, and back into place when the door closed, made possible by the use of by-wire throttle, steering, and braking. Bevel gives the driver as comfortable and as well appointed a space as the cargo is functional and durable.


Command central, or zone two, included the information and technology needed to keep the driver in touch. The digital instrument panel used three screens, side LCD monitors showed images from the sideview cameras (instead of traditional mirrors), and the main center display, where screens include HVAC, vehicle information, navigation, entertainment, and home, could be set up for a variety of sizes and typefaces, including extra-large letters as the target buyer’s eyesight starts slipping. The system toyed with the car-to-house communication seen on concepts over the years, allowing the driver to adjust the home lights and temperatures from the car.

Zone three was the reconfigurable utility, with aluminum-frame front passenger and rear bench seats. Folding both flat created a large area ready for pets or hobby/work-related tools and supplies. The seat backs used the same durable, easy-clean surface as the rear cargo area. This area is meant to take scuffs and dirt and not be worse for wear. Accommodations for dogs include a pet leash connection point in the front passenger area as well as a removable doggie hutch in the rear cargo area.
Bottom line: Bevel explored cool interior ideas in very uncool exterior shape. Nissan needs to try again before tooling up for this look.

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