Nissan Bevel: the lowdown
This is the Bevel, a concept car that makes a Swiss Army knife look one-dimensional. This versatile vehicle is more suitable for tradesmen than a van, has the interior flexibility of an MPV and looks that blend SUV- and people carrier-cues. Nissan's designers claim to have spotted a contemporary demographic – a group of 45-60-year-old males, who allegedly go bob-a-jobbing around the neighbourhoods helping others – and created a futuristic-looking van for these 'everyday heroes'. Their kids have left home, and they need a practical vehicle they'll usually drive alone, as they go around cleaning up the community – with a leaf blower rather than a Batsuit. For more, click 'next'.
At 4.4m-long, the Bevel is shorter than a Murano in both length and height. The Bevel's clean, flowing appearance feels anti-designed, and that chocolate colour makes the concept resemble a half-finished clay model, to which the stylists must add the crisp lines so beloved of Audi, BMW et al. The Nissan also bucks (geddit?) another convention – that of symmetrical design. Like the Cube, the boxy supermini sold in Japan, the Bevel has irregular panels. The driver's side has one long aperture for easy access, and almost a panel van finish punctured only by a strip of glass, while the passenger side has two, suicide doors making for easy loading.
The inside story
The Bevel may have the flexibility of an MPV, but instead of carrying people, the Bevel carries your tools, workbench and trusty dog in dedicated compartments. Indeed, Nissan says every seat bar the driver's will be folded most of the time, creating a huge flat loadbay. But your mutt won't be sliding around on this when you're driving – he travels in a special, removable hutch. And to prevent him from savaging the neighbours who've requested your plumbing or carpentry heroics, the hound can be leashed to a pivot that allows him 360-degree movement.
There are a few more imaginative touches. The rear door rises high, to enable a 6ft 2in bloke to stand beneath it and work. And the 12v socket in the rear is powered by a solar panel on the roof. Just don't go bob-a-jobbing in a tight multi-storey car park, or else the Bevel might end up with a beveled rear hatch. Steering and brakes are by-wire rather than mechanically linked, and there's also a forward-looking engine: a 2.5-litre V6 which is hybrid compatible in the Bevel. Nissan doesn't currently have a bent six displacing 2.5 litres, so this unit might well be on the way. Unlike the Bevel.