I recently acquired an old press release from Datsun UK relating to the NRVII (Nissan Research Vehicle II) from 1983, which lead me to take a closer look at this concept. This car was an incredibly advanced project for its time, featuring all sorts of technology which is now commonplace, such as a navigation system, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, as well adaptive cruise control. Based on the 5th generation Nissan Sunny B11 Sunny (Sentra in the US), the NRVII was powered by a turbocharged 1300cc (E13ET) engine, which was fuelled by methanol and put out a creditable120bhp. This kind of power, alongside with the weight savings afforded by the use of plastics for things like the windows, fuel tank and even the wheels, must have made this slightly anonymous looking Sunny into a very lively performer!

While the outside wasn’t greatly different from the conventional production B11 Sunny, the interior got some suitably futuristic looking additions. I really love that digital dashboard display and especially the button pad in the centre of the steering wheel which remains stationary while the wheel rotates. Somehow the RVII could even measure your brainwaves and alert you if you became drowsy. Quite how that worked is a mystery! The navigation system required you to pre-plan your route and would then give you instruction to follow your chosen route using a voice module alongside the map displayed on the console mounted CRT display. This same unit could also display the time and information relating to the in car audio. It even had a touch operated screen!

The Australian Science and Technology TV program, ‘Towards 2000’, ran a short feature on the Nissan NRVII back in 1983. It is surprising just how advanced this project was and how well developed and functional all of the the systems appear to be, although I suspect the boot was probably full of the electronics needed to run everything… maybe the reason that Nissan declined to let the program makers have a look in there.

In a way, the most surprising thing to me about the RVII, is that Nissan would choose to package such remarkable technology into such an plainly styled and unremarkable looking car! I guess the purpose may have been to present it all in a form that people could relate to, so they could see that this was research genuinely intended for the consumer, rather than just pie-in-the-sky dream-car stuff. Check out some scans of the original press release below…

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