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Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept gives a jolt to boring sedans

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The Nissan Vmotion 2.0 isn't a typical concept car, full of amazing but ultimately meaningless specs and crazy power numbers. Instead, it's all about design. This is what Nissan says will be the design direction for its next generation of sedans, and it looks straight out of Minority Report or I, Robot.

Design is what separates cars from one another, and gives an unspoken voice to the brand. The Ford Mustang is the Mustang because of the design, not because of what’s under the hood (though that helps) — and even if someone doesn’t particularly care about car design or what their car looks like, car design nonetheless carries significant importance. Lots of cars will get from point A to point B, but the car you drive tells the world something about you.

Even as autonomous cars make the driving experience a little less important, design will continue to be important — maybe even more so — and what’s under the hood could start to matter less.

The lighting around the Nissan emblem on the front grille and the rear diffuser glows when the car is in autonomous mode, signaling to other drivers and pedestrians that the computer is in control. It's something we've seen before as carmakers try to figure out how self-driving cars will communicate with the outside world and, in particular, reassure pedestrians that the car sees them and they won’t be run over.

New screens designed for self-driving systems have been a theme of recent concept cars, and this is no different. An ultra-wide, one-piece instrument cluster and infotainment system are designed for Nissan's ProPILOT self-driving system; both driver and passenger can see everything that's displayed. Rear-seat passengers have a smaller screen on the back of the center console that can display similar information.

Right up front is Nissan’s signature design piece, the V-motion grille. But this time, instead of being limited to just the nose, Nissan's designers have stretched the V along the entire length of the car. The crease creates a sharp edge that runs along the doors and right to the rear deck. Suicide doors (which likely won't make it past to the real world) give the cabin an airy, specious feel and, most importantly, make it easy for photographers to see the entire interior.

Nissan describes the Vmotion with high-minded designer language like "emotional geometry" and "gliding wing design theme," but my reaction is more basic than that. I just think it looks good. For the first time last quarter, Nissan's trucks, SUVs, and crossovers outsold its sedans. I'm a fan of the current Nissan Maxima, and if this is the future of that car (and it looks like it will be), sedans might not be on the way out after all.