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Nissan's self-driving future should still be car-shaped

Detroit yields the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept, a sensible saloon with plenty tech

Nissan has channelled its self-driving, artificially intelligent plans into this, the reassuringly car-shaped Vmotion 2.0.

Top Gear spoke to Nissan about its new ‘Intelligent Mobility’ philosophy at last week’s CES show in Las Vegas, but there was no new car demonstrating it. A few days later, on the other side of North America, the Detroit show has yielded this four-door concept.

Its styling is said to give a hint at where the next Altima, Maxima and Murano are going. These, most readers will note, are not cars really available in Europe. What’s more interesting is what lies beneath the skin, namely the interior from a not-too-distant future where cars drive themselves.

So there’s some supremely comfy seats, natural materials, a large, sweeping screen, and a less-than-round steering wheel. The latter looks primed and ready to fold away when you opt to let the car drive itself.

The car is a tangible example of the direction that Nissan’s design chief Shiro Nakamura has explained to us.

“The interior and exterior of cars are becoming very different,” he says. “I think the exterior will not change so much. The exterior is a way to show the taste of the brand, and to express the customer’s taste.

“But the interior will be very different. We’re going right back to the drawing board. The steering wheel will store when you’re in autonomous mode to make a very nice living room. The user interface is very different, with voice control, single big monitors, and not so many switches. It’s more simple, as simple as possible. That is the direction of the interior, definitely.”

So it is with the Vmotion 2.0, a car that is recognisably a Nissan saloon on the outside, but something new and simplified inside. Like it? Or do you want your self-driving car of the future to look as wacky as it feels?

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