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The Nissan BladeGlider isn't dead yet
And neither are analogue sports cars. Nissan design chief showers TG with good news
Good news, fans of oddly shaped three-seater sports cars: the Nissan BladeGlider’s not dead yet.
Nissan’s design boss Shiro Nakamura used the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show to tell Top Gear he still hopes it can make small-scale production.
The 264bhp sports car mated the sense of an electric-only powertrain with the silliness of a drift mode, and while the CES car hall in Las Vegas seemed to revolve around autonomous driving, Nakamura was very keen to stress that taking the wheel ourselves still has its place.
“Always, our cars should let you choose between autonomy and driving,” he says, adding that as cars morph into a strand of a mobility system, sports cars will become very special. “It’s not about transportation. You enjoy driving if you buy one.”
So what of the BladeGlider’s chance to make production? “At the moment it still remains as an experimental prototype,” says Nakamura. “But it’s not a concept, this is a very real car. You can push hard and go to the limit. Which means this car can be produced.”
“I’ll personally be happy if we can make a small limited production, it’s not necessarily one for big production, and this car is not for everybody. It’s a weekend car. It’s very fun to drive and that’s why we want to make it, if we can get enough customers.”
While Nakamura talks at length about how much change lies on the horizon for cars – more in the next 20 years than in the entire history of the motor vehicle so far, he suggests – he also says analogue driving still has a firm future. Good man.
“Young people are always looking for the most high-tech thing, but at the same time they’re looking for something very old. It’s very interesting that people who’ve never used a CD, because they download their music, now turn to old technology like vinyls and cassettes. Human beings, when you go to the extreme with technology, want to go back to analogue, too.”
He suggests that while Nissan is on a strong path towards autonomy and artificial intelligence, it must always keep a place for cars with a more analogue feel. Like, perhaps, the Nissan 370Z and Nissan GT-R (yes, it has lots of tech, but it feels rather analogue).
“Some of the new car companies are starting from digital. We started from analogue and are moving to digital. But those companies starting with digital cannot go back, they don’t have the history. So there we have an advantage. Everybody likes sports cars.”
A ringing endorsement for Nissan still caring about the fleshy, emotional thing in the driver’s seat, then. Happy?