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1985 Nissan CUE-X concept

Relaunched in emerging markets in 2013, the Datsun name had previously been used by Nissan between 1958 and 1986 for its exports. Its phasing out had started in the early 1980s with fortuitous timing since it followed on the tails of renamed models such as the Maxima, Stanza, and Sentra, having replaced the 810, 510 and B210, respectively. But stigmas wrought by those older models weren’t going to give way to the vastly modernized designs overnight.

That’s where opinion-shifting concepts like the CUE-X can come in handy.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept sketches

As early as August of 1984 the Nissan Technical Center’s design studio was busy dreaming up these shapes for an executive sports sedan concept.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept

Looking more origami than organic, relative to the drawings, this first prototype was completed in July of 1985. Despite substantial overhang at both ends and problematic ground clearance, the proportions are both sporting and elegant, maybe even exotic for the time. Discerning eyes might detect whispers of the forthcoming Infinity Q45.

Though it was a largely geometric design, it was nuanced for aerodynamics. Near flush side windows, made possible with glass mounted external to the runners, contributed to a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.24. By comparison, the Corvette from the same period was 0.341 (granted with less frontal area).

In addition to its fully concealed windshield wipers and, um, flush wheel covers were electronically-controlled front and rear spoilers which were activated automatically based on speed (and weather, utilizing a hood-mounted rain sensor). Fully deploying the front unit raised its Cd to 0.279, while deploying the rear (which acted as an “air brake” during heavy deceleration) raised it to 0.302.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept

The flush-fitting front end includes three small sensors within the dark square in the grille area which is labeled Laser Radar System. The system maintained a set distance from the vehicle ahead.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept

Rear and side lighting used LEDs.

Motivating the CUE-X to more than 150 mph was the duty of a V6 with twin variable-nozzle ceramic turbos and complex-sounding techno items like variable impedance aspiration, latent heat-type intercoolers, whisker-reinforced conrods, and bulge-formed hollow camshafts. (Whatever all that means.)

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept engine

Named VG30, the drive-by-wire engine was a 3.0-liter V6, with twin cams and four valves per cylinder, that produced 296 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept mechanicals

It also sported full-time all-wheel drive, all wheel-steering and electronic ride control.

Inside, however, is where the real eye candy was found. Central to the mass of information provided were a total of four screens: three CRT and one LCD. The gauge cluster used all but one CRT which was touch sensitive and mounted high in the center console. Through it, the climate control and audio settings (including the CD player) could be adjusted, as well as the GPS system. That’s right, not inertia-based navigation but actual GPS with digital maps.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept interior

Curiosities include purple-ish colored accents that seem a tad out of place and the single-spoke steering wheel which offers superior visibility of the dash but are not known for their rigidity or a solid feel.

The CUE-X officially debuted on November 1, 1985, at the 26th International Tokyo Motor Show, wearing a two-tone paint scheme and colored lettering on its tires.

1985 Nissan CUE-X concept

Final show version of the CUE-X concept