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Nissan Concept 20-23: extreme electric city car could preview a hot Micra

The hot hatch concept celebrates 20 years of Nissan’s European design centre in Paddington and potentially previews a Nismo-tuned Micra model

To celebrate 20 years of its Nissan Design Europe (NDE) studio based in London, Nissan has revealed this wild new Concept 20-23 car, potentially previewing a future all-electric hot hatch

Typically focused on global and European market projects, NDE was responsible for the design of sales hits such as the Qashqai and Juke, forming a critical part of the manufacturer’s global design team. The Nissan Concept 20-23, however, is a moment of freedom for its designers, and combines the Japanese brand’s heritage when it comes to small hatchbacks, with a vision of the ultimate urban car of the future. 

While it’s a pure design concept – for now – it’s obvious this celebratory one-off is inspired by Nissan’s forthcoming all-electric Micra, which will share its underpinnings with the new Renault 5 due next year. Elements such as the oversized circular lighting signature and the car’s basic silhouette are clearly drawn from the next production Micra hatchback, which should follow the R5 in 2024. However, the Concept 20-23’s design is much more experimental, with big aerodynamic elements and lots of extreme details. 

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Taking inspiration from Nissan’s Formula E racer, the concept has only two doors in comparison with the future production car’s four, allowing the brand’s designers to create two large air intakes out of the rear window openings. These flow into a wraparound rear screen, that is detached from the roof-mounted rear wing finished in a contrasting black colour (along with the roof), when compared with the lighter finish for the body work.

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The rear end features two large circular lighting elements, which reference those we’ll see on the production Micra, joined by a thin trim line that sits above a simple ‘NISSAN’ script. These elements reveal how Nissan could integrate these new design and lighting graphics into the tailgate and rear glass. The lower bumper is pure concept, though, with large openings and more aerodynamic elements. 

The flared bodywork and lower bumpers and sills feature intensive air-management elements, including Porsche 911 GT3 RS-style vents on the wheel arches that relieve pressure within the wheel wells. The circular front lights and slim horizontal lamps mark the first time we’ve seen this design language being developed for the production Micra, and these features sit above an intake underscored by a light bar. 

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Nissan has revealed images of the Concept 20-23’s interior, which is full of concept car-like theatre, including a yoke-style steering wheel. 

Between the two seats sits a small, hollow centre console with some physical switchgear, plus a further panel of switches mounted to the left of the steering wheel. The oval-shaped void on the dashboard could point towards a potential design theme for the production Micra, but in this form it’s purely for show. 

Nissan’s Senior Vice President for global design, Alfonso Albaisa, said: “The young team here at NDE was given a simple brief: design a fun electric city car that you’d like to drive every day in London. The 20-23 Concept is a compact hatchback which is strongly influenced by online racing. I love the story it tells about how the worlds of modern city living, online gaming and zero emissions mobility intersect.”

While Nissan says the Concept 20-30 is a pure show car, there could be potential for a Nismo-tuned Micra EV production car in the future. Renault’s high-performance sister brand Alpine will offer a hot hatch based on the R5 EV and has already shown its A290 beta concept. A Micra Nismo EV would join a growing class of small electric hot hatches including the aforementioned Alpine, VW’s ID.2 GTI and Skoda’s hot baby EV that we know are all in the works.

Click here for our list of the best electric cars on sale right now...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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