Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nissan FORUM concept

Nissan's attempt to inject style into the minivan segment, with the current Quest, hasn't gone so well but the company is forging ahead anyway, this time with the Forum concept. This six-passenger people mover presents a somewhat different twist on the familiar, minivan shape.

The interior is even more unusual, with second-row chairs that can snug up next to each other and then rotate as a single unit with the console in between. They're then free to face sideways (for tailgating--or side-gating, as they would face the open slider door) or rearward. The sliding side doors incorporate speakers into their rear edge, to project music outside the vehicle when it's parked. Inside, all the speakers are integrated into the seats (6 in each). Both speaker systems are supplied by Bose. A Time Out button on the steering wheel lets the driver interrupt all the in-car audio, to speak to the passengers. An integrated microphone picks up the driver's voice and sends it out through the speakers (the thinking evidently being that kids might listen to their parents if their voices are conveyed electronically).

In addition to barking at their kids over a microphone, parents in the front seats can keep a hawk eye on their offspring via two ceiling-mounted cameras, one trained on the second row and one on the third. Images from those cameras appear on the screen in the center of the dash. The Forum also incorporates Nissan's Around-View monitor, which recently had its production debut on the Infiniti EX35.

The stylish interior features modish, wraparound seats, a microwave oven located toward the rear of the center console, and cool wave-like carpeting, but does not bother with the mundane utility of folding or removable seats. The Forum is designed for a front-engine, front-wheel-drive powertrain, and is slightly smaller overall than today's Quest.