IDx Freeflow: Nissan dusts off a classic in Tokyo

Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn teased the press at the Tokyo motor show on 20 November with the introduction of the Nissan IDx Freeflow and IDx Nismo concept cars.

Nissan means for the retro-themed compact coupes to evoke the Datsun 510, a car that has developed near-mythic status for its uncommon combination of taut, efficient styling, light weight and sophisticated running gear.

While the company released absolutely no technical specifications, a spokesman admitted the hypothetical target would be the Subaru BRZ/Toyota FT-86, which – if one were to read the tea leaves correctly – would make the IDx a front-engine, rear-drive coupe.

To cement the 510 heredity, the Nismo performance variant is finished in graphics that recall the most famous 510s, those of Peter Brock's Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE), with their signature white paint and diagonal stripes behind the front wheels.

However, the 510, even in two-door configuration, was unquestionably a sedan, while the IDx's slanted roofline aims for a coupe-like silhouette. To some eyes the homage may skew dangerously close to the unlovely Datsun 200SX/Silvia of the 1970s, a lump that trashed the 510's clean lines and capable suspension in favour of lumpy, gimmicky styling and archaic rear leaf springs and solid axle.

Squint a little and an onlooker might also spot Toyota's original Celica, a more flattering evocation. No matter. In BRE livery, the Nismo version would melt the heart of even hardened 200SX haters, as long as Nissan delivered the punchy turbo engine and rear-drive this car would demand.