A conversation with the man behind the design of the upcoming Nissan Magnite – Kei Kyu, Future Design Director, Nissan Motor Corporation.
What was the main priority while designing the Magnite? What do you think consumers prefer the most in this segment – space, practicality, visual appeal or anything else?
A few years ago, Indian customers generally required practicality in the vehicle, because the car was seen as a solution to move from point A to B. However, from my understanding, customer requirement has drastically shifted to roominess, styling (visual appeal), technology, and features nowadays. Practicality is now mandatory. Probably safety, too. Our first priority is roominess, rich tech-features, and unique styling along with the best proportion and silhouette of a B-SUV.
Will we see a similar kind of aggressive design in future Nissan products? Is the Magnite a beginning of a new 'family' face for Nissan brand in India?
At Nissan, we have always worked towards being an innovative and progressive brand. What differentiates us from our competitors is the premium we place on customer-centricity. Traditionally, OEMs design the car first and then give it to the customer. But with the Nissan Magnite, we took a different approach – we began with a deep understanding of the customer.
The Indian customer is well-informed and often checks the latest international car designs. They are interested in owning a car, which is quite advanced in terms of technology and features. Thus, the Nissan Magnite was designed to be an important addition to the Nissan family. It is built on the brand’s iconic models, such as the Patrol, Pathfinder, Armada, X-Trail, Juke, Qashqai, and Kicks and has been designed as a feature-rich premium offering, with a stylish design for a strong and dynamic road presence. The B-SUV is a testimony to Nissan’s global SUV DNA spirit of relentless innovation, advanced technology, and Japanese engineering.
As a designer, how do you strike a balance between a vehicle's aesthetic appeal, safety parameters, and its cost-effectiveness, especially in a price-sensitive market like India?
As a Japanese OEM, we do not compromise on product safety and brand quality. With a deep understanding of how engineering and safety go hand in hand, our team has always found a way to execute and form the unique aesthetic of each model. To strike the right balance between cost and likeability, we paid attention to what the Indian consumer wants. Indian buyers are smart buyers, as they are willing to pay, but they don’t pay for everything – they decide what is worth their money and what is not. Our extensive market research and experience helped us prioritize the key exterior and interior elements that required higher investments.
For the exterior, we focused not just on robustness and agility, but also on a confident and dynamic stance that would please the eyes and give Magnite a strong presence. In terms of interior, touch sensitivity played a key role in recognizing the features that required higher investments.
Would you say the Magnite's interior is designed keeping youngsters/millennials in mind? In other words, did you opt for a stylish and contemporary layout over a simple and practical cabin?
When we create a new design, our primary objective is to understand the need of the customer. We need to have a deep appreciation for who our customers are, what is the nation’s mood and the atmosphere of a country, how its people are behaving, and the new trends and fashions. This discovery of people’s expectations is the starting point of our design approach. We strongly believe that design is a gift for customers and not a commodity.
There are many complexities to designing a car, as it is not a static product but an integral part of an owner’s life. We observed Indian customers and their preferences and realised the design needs to be aspirational. We ensured we give the B-SUV a personality that also reflects its function and endurance over time. Thus, we aimed for the Magnite to not only feel premium and stylish but also for it to be the most spacious B-SUV in its segment. The Magnite encompasses three major features that give it its spacious interiors: high command eye position, huge ‘couple distance’ (distance between the driver & side passenger), and a 'one class above' knee room for passengers in the rear seat. Not to forget, the infotainment system comes with a larger screen, which is a must in today’s digital age.