Nissan is set to unveil two innovative project vehicles at the upcoming SEMA show in Las Vegas, each representing distinct facets of the automotive world, and both based on budget-friendly models. These projects, the Project Rugged Rogue and the Sentra DET Concept, serve as showcases for the latest Nismo accessory parts that Nissan offers to its customers.
The Project Rugged Rogue, as described by Nissan, transforms the crossover into a rugged overlanding machine designed for family adventures. This adaptation equips the vehicle with all the necessary features for off-road travel and self-sufficient camping. Built on the recently facelifted Rogue platform, which boasts a refreshed front-end and substantial technological enhancements, the Project Rugged Rogue aims to provide a versatile experience.
While the Project Rugged Rogue may not be suited for challenging technical off-road trails, its Intelligent AWD system is more than capable for tackling gravel roads. It deploys a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, although it does lack the low range and low-end torque needed for serious off-roading. However, the AWD system can be locked in a 50:50 split mode, which helps in certain conditions. The only drawback is the CVT transmission, which can make power modulation somewhat challenging.
The most noteworthy aspect of the Project Rugged Rogue is the inclusion of custom or prototype Nismo parts. Nissan intends to gauge interest in these components at SEMA, with the hope of eventually offering them as accessories that buyers can add to the MSRP of a Rogue. Apart from the Nismo parts, the vehicle is equipped with roof-mounted kayak and mountain bike racks, mounted on a custom roof rack along with six-inch round driving lights.
For improved ground clearance and traction, the Project Rugged Rogue boasts a three-inch suspension lift kit, 18 x 8.5-inch dual-tone bronze and black off-road wheels, and grippy Geolandar M/T G003 tires. The vehicle also sports a dual-exit center exhaust, which, despite affecting the departure angle, is a substantial upgrade from the standard low-hanging side exhaust. The carbon fiber fender flares and rear spoiler may seem like odd choices, considering their replacement costs, but they lend a distinctive aesthetic to the vehicle. In contrast, it features proper off-road rock rails for added functionality. The bumper guard also comes equipped with six-inch driving lights, and on the hood, you’ll find an additional set of four-inch lights.
On the other hand, the Sentra DET Concept presents a different perspective on sedans at a time when many manufacturers are phasing them out. This concept is a tribute to the Sentra Cup spec-racing series in Canada and pays homage to previous performance models like the Sentra SE-R. The name “DET” itself is an acronym, standing for “Dual overhead cam, Electronic Fuel Injection, Turbo,” which has been associated with models like the Silvia, Pulsar GTI, Skyline, and Stagea.
Under the hood, the Sentra DET Concept is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed manual transmission, which is a welcome deviation from the trend of automatic-only transmissions in many modern vehicles. To ensure it sounds as good as it performs, the engine is connected to a prototype stainless-steel Nismo B18 performance exhaust.
The concept doesn’t just focus on power; it also emphasizes control. It features a Nismo coilover suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and linear-rate springs, and to fine-tune the setup, Nissan enlisted the expertise of GT4 racer Bryan Heitkotter. The vehicle is equipped with 18-inch Nismo LM-RS6 wheels fitted with Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD09 tires for optimum traction. Inside the cabin, it boasts Recaro Sportster CS front seats and a Nismo shift knob for that added sporty touch.
While both the Project Rugged Rogue and Sentra DET Concept are currently labeled as concepts, there’s a strong possibility that some of the showcased parts and prototypes may eventually make their way into production models. The future of these projects and whether they’ll be embraced by enthusiasts hinges on the response from the online community and SEMA attendees.