The idea of an amphibious vehicle is by no means new – for the first time such developments were tried before World War II. But “civilian” such vehicles more or less caught on only by the 60s of the last century. At the same time began selling the Amphicar (pictured), a car that was released in small numbers for a very wealthy clientele.
The appearance of amphibious vehicles on the market of civilian cars never became a mass market – the demand turned out to be too niche. Accordingly, it was hard to drive these cars every day – the inconvenience of getting on/off, the sluggish dynamics, the low usability and high price made the Amphicar and subsequent amphibians strictly image transport. This picture was to be changed by the Isuzu Nagisa.
In the 80s and 90s Isuzu often delighted the public with daring concept cars, including those with a sporty image. That is why the Nagisa, presented in 1991 at the Tokyo Motor Show, caused a strong reaction of the public not by the fact that it was Isuzu’s idea. But the fact that this prototype was invented not for wealthy clients – it was assumed that such a car would help to unload the roads of Japan, in particular of large port cities.
They even planned to make a whole family of boat-cars (small amphibian trucks and compact amphibians the size of kei-karts were patented), but tests of the Nagisa showed that the idea was difficult to implement – it was too slow and clumsy on roads and lacked stability on water. The ambitious project had to be shut down, although there were many customers ready to buy the Nagisa at the show.
The Nagisa was powered by a 3.2-liter V6 with both wheel drive and a water jet in the stern. Top speed of the concept on land was up to 100 km/h. There were four seats in the cabin (including the driver), and boarding was done through the tailgate, which could be closed with an additional hood. Unfortunately, by the end of the 90s Isuzu stopped trying to create something as daring as the Nagisa. Perhaps now the technology has reached a new level and it is worth trying again?