The 'Four-Door Sports Car' Gets Serious
Nissan calls it the SSC, for Sport Sedan Concept, but you can just call it a preview of the next Maxima (the so-called “four-door sports car”). Officially, the SSC is a design exercise intended to demonstrate the next generation of Nissan design, but expect the new Maxima to be a toned-down version of this car.
A number of current Nissan styling cues can be seen in the SSC, but with futuristic twists. The boomerang headlights and taillights are still there, but they’re much more exaggerated and full of LEDs. Nissan’s new signature grille pumps up the V-motion graphic you might recognize from the new Rogue. Sharply creased fenders are reminiscent of the GT-R, as is the slim roof sitting on blacked-out A-pillars. A slice removed from the C-pillar recalls the recent Nissan IDx Freeflow concepts, while the overall shape isn’t far removed from Infiniti‘s rear-wheel-drive sport sedans. The concept rides on 21-inch wheels with V-shaped spokes backed by big brakes with slotted rotors. The overall effect is aggressive, sporty, and just futuristic enough.
Inside, the SSC continues to be futuristic, but with a production-friendly layout. The gauges and infotainment system are translucent blue displays with silver trim, and the words, numbers, and images appear to hang in space. Blue accent lighting around the interior complements the displays. Controls are simple, uncluttered, and appear nearly production-ready. The dash, doors, center console, and seats are wrapped in beautifully stitched leather.
Look closely at the SSC’s details and you’ll see this car isn’t a pure concept. The body is a little wild, but it has real headlights, taillights, wheels, and door mirrors, all of which are usually sacrificed on the altar of cool when designing a concept. Inside, it has production-looking seats and real controls such as turn signal and wiper stalks, which again tend to get left off concepts. These pieces even look as if they could’ve been pulled from a production car.
The unanswered question is whether the 2015 Nissan Maxima production car will offer any powertrain options. Nissan says the SSC is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces at least 300 hp. The concept also has a sport-tuned continuously variable transmission and performance dampers. Currently, the Maxima is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 making 290 hp and driving the front wheels through a CVT with paddle shifters. When we tested a 2013 Maxima 3.5 SV in a comparison against the Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon, the Nissan accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. In the comparison, though we found the 2013 Maxima showing its age and lacking in interior space, the car was “curiously fun to corner” and we even found the CVT to be “very impressive.”
For practical reasons, such as cost, it’s unlikely the SSC is anything but a front-drive car, no matter how much Infiniti design it borrows. A V-6 engine and CVT are likely, but don’t rule out a turbocharged four-cylinder and perhaps even a hybrid drivetrain for fuel economy and emissions reasons. The Maxima may have placed third in the comparison against the Azera and Avalon, but judging by the SSC, we’re looking forward to discovering what the next-generation Maxima will have to offer.