Nissan knows a thing or two about SUVs. The Qashqai is a cult icon: it's the car that kick-started the current small SUV revolution and is still thoroughly recommendable, while the X-Trail is a dependable choice if you're shopping for a larger 4x4. And, of course, the Juke still sells in big numbers. So where does Nissan go from there? Well, this IMx concept shows how the company will use technology from the new Leaf electric hatchback to create its first electric SUV.
Nissan IMx features
Although its rakish looks will be toned down for production, the IMx will feature many of the same styling cues as the new Leaf on which it is based.
Inside, the IMx is an excercise in minimalism, with wood trim used to create a wraparound space for the driver and front passenger. There's a wide infotainment display and a digital instrument panel that also show the car's surroundings – effectively becoming partly see-through. That technology extends to the rest of the car, where passing shapes are presented as shadows on the wooden trim.
As you might expect from such a futuristic concept, the infotainmment screen is controlled by gestures and eye movements rather than through buttons or touchscreens.
Nissan IMx engines
Powering this IMx concept are two electric motors – one powering each set of wheels – that together produce 423bhp. The concept's range is claimed to be around 373 miles, far surpassing the current Leaf's 155 miles and even outstripping the 310-mile ranges of the Jaguar I-Pace and upcoming Audi E-tron. Even Tesla's Model X is left behind at 351 miles. Just like the new Leaf, the IMx is also capable of returning excess power to the National Grid when not in use.
Thanks to its new underpinnings, Nissan says the IMx will offer excellent driving dynamics, thanks to its low centre of gravity. SUVs tend to be poor in this regard, suffering from body roll through corners. With the IMx, its battery pack is located under the floor, thus helping the car stay planted.
There's also an advanced version of Nissan's ProPilot driving assistance system on board, which in the IMx is capable of fully autonomous driving. When the ProPilot system is active, the car's steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and the seats recline.
Nissan IMx release date
So when will a Leaf-based SUV go on sale? Nissan is remaining tight-lipped about whether the IMx will make production, but given that the company has previously hinted at a whole family of electric vehicles and that Nissan's previous IDS concept car became the new Leaf in less than two years, we'd suggest that you'll be able to buy an electric SUV based on the IMx by the turn of the decade.
Thinking of buying a new SUV? While it's likely to be a few years before you'll be able to buy the production version of the IMx, below we've chosen our 10 favourite large SUVs that you can buy right now.
The best large SUVs
10. Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai’s largest SUV offers rugged, go-anywhere ability and a usefully lofty driving position. It also has seven seats, plenty of equipment and a powerful yet economical diesel engine. It’s not the last word in refinement, though.
Our pick 2.2 CRDi 200 Premium seven-seater
9. Ford Edge
The Edge had been on sale in the US for a while, but it only came to the UK in 2016. It’s good value for money and even the cheapest trim level comes with a decent amount of kit. It doesn’t have the most powerful engine, though, and there’s no seven-seat option.
Our pick 2.0 TDCi 210 AWD auto
8. Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento comes with seven seats and, unlike many rivals, its third row is spacious enough for adults, not just children. It also has a punchy engine, heavy towing capacity and comfortable ride, but the very best competitors are cheaper and more refined.
Our pick 2.2 CRDi KX-2