Nissan has finally pulled the veils off its latest concept car, the Nissan Xmotion, at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. The SUV concept, which features three-row seating, represents the company’s design direction for 2020 and beyond.

It’s been a while since we last saw a design concept as exciting as the Xmotion. The designers termed the new styling as “purposeful strength,” projecting a bold rugged look that’s admittedly more refreshing than its current range of models. It’s still recognisably Nissan, thanks to retention of the “boomerang” headlamps, fascia and V-motion front grille.

The grille – now wider, deeper and more prominent than ever – too has evolved, having first made its debut on the third-generation Murano. According to the automaker, the grille on the Xmotion will set the stage for use on production crossovers and SUVs well into the next decade.

The boomerang headlamps on the other hand, have been sculpted to resemble forged steel blades. Integrated into each headlamp are functions that include high beam, low beam, turn signals and positioning lamps. The intensity and colour of the lighting also varies, depending on the function.

Round the side, there’s an interesting U-shaped contour between the wheel arches, and highlighting stance is a set of 21-inch aluminium alloy wheels shod with all-terrain run-flat tyres, which Nissan said were developed with Michelin. It also gets Nissan’s Intelligent all-wheel drive.

Over at the back, the taillight’s design was inspired by the detail and warmth of kumiko, known as Japanese woodwork and puzzles. If your eyes are playing tricks on you, that’s because the graphic is an optical illusion created by hologram technology.

The coach doors open to a rather unique 4+2 seating configuration, arranged in a three-row layout. The third row features two seats that are fit for children or pets. “We envision the vehicle to be a highly functional, everyday SUV that can be driven daily yet can take the owners and friends to a national park or recreation area on a whim,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design.

With an overall length of 4,590 mm (that’s shorter than the X-Trail‘s 4,650 mm length!), luggage space in the Xmotion is certainly compromised. To mitigate this, the concept comes with a retractable “rooftop box” that’s aerodynamically efficient and flexible enough to carry a number of bags or recreational equipment of all sizes.

The rest of the cabin draws inspiration from traditional Japanese carpentry, evident through the extensive use of wood that form the dashboard and centre tunnel. It incorporates a traditional Japanese architectural wood joinery technique called kanawa tsugi, which requires not a single nail or glue to be used, yet remains strong and durable. The joinery technique has also been used to build religious temples and shrines throughout Japan.

Nissan said careful attention was paid to the wood grain, texture and even the aroma to look and feel as if the whole instrument panel and console were cut out of a single Japanese cedar tree. Out of respect for resource efficiency, the solid wood look was achieved by using genuine wood overlays, which were sliced out of a single tree that was selected from the woods in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the car is the huge digital display panel that span the dashboard’s width. It’s comprised of seven digital screens – five in the centre, one in the ceiling (digital room mirror) and a center console display. The displays and infotainment system can be controlled by gestures and eye movements.

Further down is a “floating commander” which senses a passenger’s movement. It contains a motion sensor inside and scans for gesture controls to the entertainment system, as well as the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Accessing the Xmotion requires fingerprint authentication. That’s right, just like a mobile phone these days. When the driver touches the fingerprint scanner on the top of the console, the opening sequence starts to the welcoming of a virtual personal assistant. Interestingly, this takes shape of a Japanese koi fish.

“We see Nissan and the Xmotion concept bringing celebration to everyday life, to make every day feel like going somewhere special,” Albaisa said. “We hope that those who view the vehicle at auto shows around the world will feel the very same way.”

With the Xmotion concept, Nissan hopes the new design and upcoming Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies will ultimately be a feasible means of mobility for the future. What do you think, dear readers?