August 6, 2012
Product Chief Designer Atsushi Maeda discusses the new Nissan Note hatchback.
Q1. What’s the design philosophy behind the new Note?
Product Chief Designer Atsushi Maeda:
The concept that underpins this car can be summarized by two phrases: “energetic clarity” and “spacious comfort”. These are the two key points.
The current Note is a very good car. It is compact, practical, quite spacious and has convenient features.
In the new model, we build on these advantages and add features that meet today’s needs, such as better environmental performance and aerodynamics. At the same time, the new model has an unmistakable and unique design that expresses sportiness and dynamism.
We wanted to make a world-class car that excels when compared with competing hatchbacks in established car markets around the world. This is the design concept for the new Note.
Q2. Which parts of the design process were most important?
The car’s silhouette is highly important as a means of expressing clean, flowing lines. Without successfully creating this silhouette, it’s not easy to create a flowing shape whatever the design.
When we decided the proportions for this model, the first thing we thought about was how to create the side profile we had in mind.
Q3. Tell us about the new Note’s exterior.
For the exterior, we use an original design for the front face that expresses its individuality.
The design of the front face shows “powerful eyes” – something that’s created in the way the headlights and grille fit together. The relationship is similar to the way a face is formed from the eyes, nose, and mouth.
I wondered if I could give the front of the car powerful eyes by paying attention to the grille and the headlights. As a result, we designed the new front face with a combination of the headlights and grille.
For the side of the car, we have what we’ve called a “squash line” – a line which recalls the trajectory of a squash ball – to express the car’s agility. A squash ball rebounds quickly compared with a tennis ball or other types of ball. That quick response, expressed in the body-side character line, helps create a sense of dynamism.
At the back of the car, a line extends from the lights to the rear window. It’s similar to the boomerang-like form Nissan used in the Z and Juke.
The new model’s styling expresses motion in several ways. It is not just about having a good design for when the car is parked. It’s also about how does a car express dynamism when it is moving, or when you see it in the city. We designed various parts of the car while focusing on these points.
As for the body color, you can choose from an attractive color lineup.
It is important that each color has its own meaning and character. For example, “Sonic Blue” effectively creates impressions of “eco,” “cleanliness,” and emphasizes the Note’s flowing lines. You can choose a color based not only on your tastes, but also on the character of the car.
Q4. What about the interior?
For the interior, the two elements we wanted to express were those of comfort and personalization.
The “ripple mark” on the upper interior surface helps to make the driver feel that this is a car made for or them.” When you sit in the front passenger seat, there’s a feeling of unity with the driver and, at the same time, a sense of the car’s roominess.
We use the ripple line because it shows a gentle movement over quite a large area, similar to the ripples of sand in the desert. This expresses movement and serenity.
What is good about this car is that you can enjoy it wherever you are sitting, whether the front or rear seats. For instance, when you are in the driving seat, there’s the “eco-meter”, responsive steering and an enjoyable driving experience.
When creating the new combimeter for the Note, we thought about how to best incorporate the “eco-meter” and how to use illumination in the display.
We considered showing the eco-performance by using numbers, but we thought it is better for the driver receive the information in a more relaxed, intuitive way.
The center cluster gives the car a quality feel. The feeling is enhanced not just by using premium materials, but also by coordinating materials, including chrome details and colors like silver and glossy black.
When you sit in the passenger seats, you can easily relax. You don’t feel separated from others in the car, while you also notice the car’s spaciousness. This isn’t just because the interior is bigger. Various innovative ideas have also been implemented.
For example, the seats and headrests are more compact. When we make a car with a premium feeling, we usually choose large seats. But for the Note we dared to use compact seats to help create a cabin where people can sit in comfort but do not feel a large distance between them and the driver or passengers.