Nissan's latest show car adds a new dimension to the traditional B-segment market. Part sporty hatchback, part mini MPV, Tone is designed to appeal to both the head and the heart. Taking centre stage on the Nissan stand at the Paris Salon was a new variation on the traditional mini-MPV theme. Called Tone, the sporting five-door hatchback is a show car of real note and provides a serious pointer to a potential new model in the Nissan range.
As a vehicle which will have a busy life, reflecting the life of its drivers, it features the Intelligent Key which can be found on the Micra - the only car in its class to have it. Intelligent Key enables the doors to be locked or unlocked without trying to find the key. Using proximity sensors, it will unlock the doors at the touch of a button on the door handle, saving the driver the inconvenience of searching for the key when their hands are full. And the ignition works in a similar way. If the key is detected, the car will start without having to put the key in the ignition lock.
Tone takes styling influences from the avant-garde Micra and mixes them with design cues from other Nissan concept and show cars. The result is as individual as the Micra yet Tone is demonstrably a member of the Nissan family. The arched roof line, at its highest point above the B-pillar, has become a feature of Nissan road cars since the Fusion concept car became Primera. The pronounced waistline is fashionably high while the front and rear bumpers are fully integrated into the design.
Other influences, however, come from the more recent Qashqai urban crossover concept that drew the crowds at the 2004 Geneva Show. Like Qashqai, Tone has highly distinctive boomerang LED rear lights that frame the tailgate and roof, while Tone's prominent triangular rear side windows are scaled up versions of those found on Qashqai. At the front, the grille adopts an aggressive double-deck four-slot design similar to the grille on Murano, while the dominant headlights house powerful projector beams. With very short overhangs front and rear, the profile is dominated by bold 17 inch alloy wheels.
Tone has been given a deliberately 'masculine' feel with extensive use of brushed aluminium for interior fittings and a sophisticated dark grey exterior body colour. Inside, a hint of purple shows through the perforated 'metallic' black and silver leather upholstery while light grey headlining contrasts with the predominantly black trim. Dramatically shaped sports seats are designed to keep the driver and front seat passenger firmly in place during cornering, enhancing the sporting concept and fun to drive philosophy which is at the heart of Tone. Twin glass strips run the length of the roof - another feature seen on many recent Nissan show cars - and bathe the interior with natural light.
Accentuating its 'driver appeal', Tone has a dramatic and futuristic dashboard. Two deep set dials can be found behind the sporting three spoke steering wheel, but the centre of the dashboard is dominated by a brushed aluminium display panel housing a satellite navigation screen and controls for the climate control system. Although designed as a car for the enthusiast, Tone's designers have not forgotten the practical needs of a parent. The glove box features a neat slot that doubles as a tissue dispenser - ideal for keeping sticky finger off the upholstery - while the brushed aluminium centre console-cum-armrest houses a deep storage area beneath its lid.