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Concept-Nissan Forum Preview

Concept-Nissan Forum Preview

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012

Critical Knowledge:
  • Exploratory design concept

  • Family-oriented, limousine-like minivan

  • 7-passenger seating

  • Front engine and front-wheel drive (FWD)

  • Diesel powerplant with CVT transmission

  • LED exterior lighting

  • On-board microwave
Introduction
The Nissan Forum is an explanatory design concept developed by Nissan Design America to represent the next revolution in family transportation. Making its debut at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the minivan offers a wide array of ideas designed to make family passenger vehicles more appealing to both drivers and their passengers. According to Nissan, the Forum concept ".offers a sophisticated space for adults and an engaging space for children-allowing both groups to enjoy themselves in their own individualistic ways while being connected in one vehicle."

Concept
The name Forum represents an assembly, meeting, or gathering place. Nissan designed the Forum concept to bring adults and children together in two independent-but linked-zones. The front of the vehicle is the parents' zone, containing advanced technology controls and seats designed to increase driving pleasure. The rear of the vehicle is the dedicated kids' space, made to make children feel comfortable and entertained. Nissan adds, "From a conceptual standpoint, Forum is closer to a family limousine than the minivans Gen-Xers have grown up with. But unlike a real limo-or sometimes traditional minivans-the Forum driver is just as important as the passengers."

While traditional minivans are often perceived as "Mom's car," the Forum was designed to be gender-neutral. For women, who (research shows) will most likely drive the vehicle during the week, rear seat cameras and audio controls simplify tasks such as picking kids up at school or dropping them off at practice or lessons. For men, who are more likely to be driving the Forum on weekends or long trips, the vehicle is designed with responsive power and handling. In addition, it offers the exceptional flexibility that is required to transport large objects or weekend gear.

Exterior Design
At first glance, the "one box" design of the Forum appears rather simple, but it adds dramatic styling with its wide stance, high beltline, excellent outward visibility, and aggressive appearance. The front doors open 90 degrees to offer improved access to the front seats. The absence of B-pillars improves access to the second- and third-row seats. Nissan says this allows the second-row seat to be used as a sort of �bleacher'-adding a new dimension to watching sports, picnicking, or other outdoor family activities.

A special patented hinge design permits the sliding side doors to be trackless. This presents a clean and uninterrupted profile that is uncommon in this segment. Overhead, Nissan's SkyView moonroof panels have sunshades integrated into their design to allow passengers to block the hot sun on warm days. Exterior lighting is of the LED type, including a subtle light bar that accents the sweeping grill and hood design.

Interior Design
The interior of the Forum is as sophisticated as the exterior. The cockpit area-occupied by the driver and front passenger-offers twin aniline leather-appointed seats surrounded in rich aluminum and wood to offer comfort and control. A dramatic "floating" instrument panel blends next-generation communications technology with intuitive, yet simple, controls. Contained within the instrument panel are dual-zone climate controls and built-in mood lighting for the upper and lower console areas. An on-board microwave is sized to fit a standard bag of popcorn.

The second-row seats are mounted on a single central motorized postAs a unit, they are capable of rotating 90 degrees for picnicking or watching a sporting event. If desired, . they may also be spun 180 degrees to face the bench third row to create family-style seating for up to 5 passengers. Nissan calls this "turntable seating." Located within the second-row seats are individual wireless monitors for watching DVDs or playing games. All seating positions feature integrated seat belts.

Technology
Nissan worked with the Bose Corporation to develop much of the electronics on board the Forum concept. These include much of the latest mobile communications technology, and a host of innovative Forum-specific features. A Bose Media System includes XM satellite radio, hard disc drive music storage, DVD, iPod interface, Bluetooth wireless technology, and an advanced navigation system. State-of-the-art audio is provided by the Bose SeatCentric system. It includes headrest and backrest speakers for consistent stereo even as the seats swivel. For those wishing for sound outside the vehicle, the Bose FreeSpace outdoor audio system includes speakers mounted on the trailing edges of the sliding doors. The Forum also shares Nissan's advanced Around View Monitor (AVM) found on the 2008 Infiniti EX35. It includes front, rear, and side-mounted cameras to give the driver an all-around image of the vehicle while parking.

Parents will appreciate keeping a close watch on rear occupants with the "Kids Cam" monitoring system. Cameras are located in the headliner above the second and third rows and connected to the main instrument panel LCD. A one-button "Time Out" system allows the driver to simultaneously mute all audio playing in the Forum and broadcast the driver's voice over all interior speakers. "The �Time Out' system gives the driver and passengers a sometimes much-needed time out, while the rear zone cameras enable observation-and interaction-when needed, while helping drivers keep their primary attention on the road, explains Nissan.

Hardware
The front-engine and FWD Nissan Forum concept rides on 6-spoke, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Although a powerplant has not been specifically chosen for the concept, the Forum is slated for a clean diesel or other environmentally sensitive powerplant that will be mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). "Nissan has previously announced that it will be offering a clean diesel engine in the United States in the next generation Maxima, so a similar powerplant would be a definite consideration for a vehicle like Forum," says Nissan.
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