Nissan’s Round Box compact convertible
October 18, 2007 Another preview from the Nissan stable ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show, the Nissan Round Box is takes open-air motoring in a different direction through its emphasis on the car as a social environment. Passengers can share the sensation of speed with the driver through “road surface windows” positioned close to the ground on both sides and two large touchscreens, coupled with a unique seating design, encourage greater communication between those on board.
The Round Box features an environmentally friendly turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine mated to Nissan’s advanced Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and a raft of enhanced safety features, but it is the design elements – both inside and out which set the vehicle apart and, like Toyota’s Hi-CT concept, place it as a desirable option for the urban youth market.
“The car was inspired by the lively atmosphere of a sports bar,” explains Tatsuya Shiosaki of Nissan's Exploratory and Advanced Product Department. “In a sports bar everyone is focused on the game for pure enjoyment. They are totally free of the pressure and tension felt by the players who are actually playing the game on the field. A sports bar affords an enjoyable, stress-free space where friends can experience a sense of togetherness. Simultaneously, they can enjoy thrilling excitement like being on a roller-coaster yet without any risk involved. That is the sort of emotive world the Round Box is intended to provide."
The social nature of the vehicle is derived through its seating layout - the seats have a bench-style lower half and a bucket-style upper half bench-style with front seatbacks kept separated to facilitate easy communication between all occupants.
As the name suggests, the car incorporates a mixture of flat and round curved surfaces throughout the interior, a motif that includes the instrument panel, steering wheel and other appointments.
The driver and passengers can share entertainment and driving information via a large touchscreen display positioned in the centre of the vehicle and an additional monitor located in the center of the instrument panel. This is designed to encourage the exchange information – passengers can search for shops or restaurants through the car’s navigation system and then send the driving route and instructions to the driver’s monitor.
On the outside the car features an open upper cabin area with the wheels placed at each corner to maximize interior room and enhance stability. The open-air feeling is enhanced by a three-section removable roof panel, which can be stowed away when not in use.
“Road surface windows” close to the ground on both sides of the Round Box allow the passengers to soak up the feeling of speed.