As the sedan continues to be cannibalised by the ever-popular SUV, its future is looking increasingly bleak, with carmakers like Ford and General Motors starting to abandon the humble booted four-door. But Nissan claims it will be able to resuscitate the bodystyle – and predictably it’s by turning the sedan into a crossover.

The IMs concept, which debuted in Detroit today, is in the company’s own words an “elevated sports sedan”. It certainly looks that way, being taller than a typical sedan and riding on massive 22-inch wheels. The increased height, by the way, has not been necessitated by a raised ride height, but by the placement of the battery pack under the cabin – yes, this is an electric vehicle, but more on that later.

According to Nissan, the styling of the IMs emphasises simple horizontal and vertical lines rather than sculpted surfaces, as evidenced by the bluff fenders, although the deep sculpting in the doors and the three-dimensional bonnet add some curves back into the design. The glasshouse is visually separated from the rest of the body, achieved through a glass roof, thin pillars and flush glazing.

Nissan’s trademark “V-motion” grille graphic is achieved here through the shape of the headlights, which are also said to aid airflow. The horizontal light blade that runs across the bonnet is repeated at the rear, and they both pulse when the vehicle is being driven, turning light blue in autonomous driving mode.

As with the GT-R50 by Italdesign, the IMs features gold highlights throughout, including the roof rail trim that is said to be inspired by the ring of an eclipse. A traditional Japanese pattern, Asanoha, is imprinted on the roof in gold and repeated throughout the rest of the car, including the wheels.

The suicide doors open through invisible “eClinch” door handles, and there are no B-pillars to impede entry and egress. Inside, the IMs adopts a “2+1+2” seating layout – confusing, I know, but it essentially means that there are five seats, with the centre rear seat taking precedence over the slim outboard pews. Those outer seats can be folded to become armrests for the centre seat, turning it into a “Premier Seat”.

At the front, the 3D-printed dashboard adopts a kumiko structure that Nissan says is lightweight and saves space. Ahead of the steering wheel sits a dual-layer floating screen that provides only important information to the driver, who sits on the company’s famed zero-gravity seat; in autonomous driving mode, the steering wheel retracts and the front seats pivot to face the rear.

Nissan’s augmented reality technology, Invisible-to-Visible, also makes its appearance here and enables occupants to see what may otherwise be hidden from view. Using the Omni-Sensing technology previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, it allows drivers, for example, to see around corners, visualise route information and even have a three-dimensional avatar keep them company as a “passenger”.

Power comes from a pair of electric motors that provide all-wheel drive and a combined output of 483 hp and 800 Nm of torque, while a 113 kWh battery provides an estimated range of 610 km. The air suspension is claimed to be able to adapt to road conditions, achieving both a sporty drive and a smooth ride.

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