Nissan’s IDx concepts revives the glory of Skylines and Datsuns

Last month, Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer came out swinging against the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, saying the beloved tail-sliding coupes were “designed for a 50-year old,” and promised a car fitting for the twenty-something male enthusiast. For a company that killed the 240SX years back (and unmolested examples getting rarer and rarer due to botched Silvia conversions and the stance fad), that meant it had a lot of redeeming to do at the Tokyo Motor Show. And it delightfully has with the IDx — at least, for the niche of enthusiasts that love vintage Japanese cars like the Datsun 510.

Shown in two forms — the denim-trimmed IDX Freeflow and the teen-racer IDx Nismo, they’re a pair of rear-wheel drive coupes that evoke memories of 2+2 cars like the 1969 “Hakosuka” Nissan Skyline GT-R (memories we mostly don’t have stateside). Bringing back retro touches like fender-mounted rearview mirrors and flared fenders on the Nismo reminiscent of the ZG 240Z, the IDx duo dig even further into the past than Toyota’s “Hachiroku” Corolla. Powered by a directed-injected, 1.6-liter turbo and paired to a CVT with a six-speed manual mode, it's positioned as an entry-level performance car that's even more compact than the BRZ/FR-S, with a length of about 161 inches and a width of 67 inches.

But as much as Nissan boasted how the IDx caters to a "digital native" crowd at the press conference, it could be a tough sell in Japan, where the younger generation still trick out practical, breadbox kei cars, and put pricey forged wheels on minivans and hybrids. Part of the reason why the BRZ succeeds there is because of older empty nesters, who nostalgically recall the AE86 Corolla from the '80s. Since cars like the Nissan 1600 went extinct long after the Millennials were even born, that could inevitably skew the IDx's appeal towards the older analog crowd, who (like myself) still remember relics like the 8-track and Star Blazers. Not quite the FR-S-killing youth magnet that Palmer touted—but I still say bring it.