At the end of the 1990s, rally-raids were at the peak of their popularity and Paris-Dakar was called so not for the sake of red lip service, but for the sake of business (although there were occasions when the start was given, say, in Spanish Granada – in 1995 and 1996). From 1994 to 1996, the race was dominated by Citroën ZX prototypes, which became the main source of inspiration for the Nissan Trial Runner concept.
The first showing of the Trail Runner took place at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show. The same year, the car was shown at the exhibition in Tokyo. And it was not a homologation car for the competition – the designers only came up with the image of a sports car that would be equally fascinating on any surface.
As the basis for took all-wheel drive and fully steerable chassis Nissan Skyline GT-R system ATTESA, which hoisted a lightweight fiberglass body. Ground clearance was significantly increased, tires 205/55 R18 with wheels of the original design appeared. In order for the car to cope with any road conditions, the driver could choose the appropriate mode of coverage with the Multi-control Grip selector.
The Trail Runner had the appropriate engine, a four-cylinder NEO VVL power unit equipped with a supercharger and variable valve timing. The 1.8-liter “heart” had 185 horsepower and 196 Newton-meters of torque.
The choice of gearbox from a racing point of view seems strange – it is a V-belt variator with six virtual gears. Switching between the six virtual gears could be done manually.
The concept also had pseudo-racing chips – like a spare wheel placed on a sliding platform in the depths of the rear bumper. The rear spoiler has two slots for snowboards. Trail Runner has xenon headlights – quite technological decision by 1997 standards.
Inside the cabin, in addition to the bright yellow inserts and luxurious “buckets,” you could find all the advanced electronics at the time: LCD instrument panel, climate control, TV, navigation system, as well as the projection display, which displays speed data on the windshield.
Some of the solutions implemented in this concept, found its serial embodiment – most of the parallels can be drawn between the interiors of Trail Runner and the first 350Z. This is the architecture of the torpedo, and the design of the luggage compartment with a powerful transverse strut.
Since then, Nissan did not return to the theme of rally-raid cars. Even in the form of concept cars.