These days, when car companies are so serious, concept cars aren’t that much fun any more. Most of what manufacturers call “concepts” are really just the production model with some funky paint and huge wheels, to show people what’s coming up for next year. And it makes a lot of sense – why spend a lot of time, effort, and money making a concept car that you’re never going to build? Sure, it’s cool to flex your intellectual and creative muscle and have car-show crowds ooh and ahh at your car, but it doesn’t make any money. So let’s thank Nissan that they threw together a not-intended-for-production concept car for the LA Auto Show, the Nissan Ellure Concept.

Nissan execs say it’s intended to show the future direction of Nissan’s sedan offerings, combining dynamic styling, efficiency, and a fun-to-drive factor that Nissan’s sedans have always been known for. (Datsun 510, Nissan Maxima “4DSC”, Sentra SE-R, etc). There’s a whole lot going on outside. To me, it sort of looks like they got an Altima really hot and put it in a wind tunnel. This is probably the best integration so far of Nissan’s ninja boomerang headlights like on the 370Z and new Maxima, The grille wraps from the surface of the hood to the front bumper, giving the front end some more integration from side profiles. Also, a neat mass-minimizing visual trick: you’ll notice the hood switches from convex to concave as it approaches the A-pillars and windshield.

Around the side, there’s a whole plate full of Bangle-style “flame surfacing,” which I’m getting pretty tired of seeing at this point. And it feels like the greenhouse and the body on the side were designed by two different people, with seemingly no continuity between the two. It’s almost like the glass is just sitting on top of the body, rather than part of it – sort of strange. I do like the single unbroken swage line that runs from the trunk all the way to the headlights, with a coke-bottle dip in the middle down to the door handles – it makes the car seem lower without actually compromising space. Also of note, and a sure sign that the Ellure isn’t going to be showing up at a dealership near you: rear-hinged suicide doors for the back end. Haven’t manufacturers realized these are annoying? From the top, the glass stretches from the windshield to the rear window, unbroken from the outside – a neat touch.

Around back, the Ellure looks a lot like a next-generation Maxima, with it’s multi-surfaced boomerang LED taillights, that manage to pass through the rear fender, rear bumper, and trunk – then back through the bumper again! I particularly like the plunging tail lights intersecting with the rising trunk line, as well as the lack of any tail pipes – they’re usually some goofy trapezoidal thing sticking out of the bumper, so the cleanliness of the back end is nice. Overall, the Ellure’s styling is both concept-car flash as well as pretty novel – I could see a lot of these elements making their way to a production car in the future.

Of course, being a modern concept car, the Ellure has a hybrid powertrain so that it’s “green.” Never mind that it’s a 25Kw (33 horsepower) motor stuck to the side of a supercharged 2.5L I4 (presumably the QR25 from the Altima.) Power goes through Nissan’s xTronic CVT to the front wheels, and the Ellure utilizes regenerative braking for efficiency. The only other things Nissan says about the Ellure’s greasy bits are that it has independent suspension, and drive-by-wire electro/hydraulic power steering, which sounds like a terrible idea. (Blue Screen of Death = you crash?) Hey, it’s a pie in the sky concept car, give it a break.

The interior is suitably bizarre. The actual gauges for the dashboard are in a thin electronic display that runs the length of the dash, while a swath of white leather surrounds the entire cabin, also forming the back of the rears seats. The steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara and is square for some reason, there’s a touch-screen display for the minor controls on the center stack, and the seats were taken directly from the UFO in Independence Day.

The shifter is some sort of touch-control that looks like it’s taken from an XBox. The roof is glass with an arrow-shaped support in it, the rear head rests poke out of the C-pillar into the air, and the floor is orange. You know, typical show-car stuff. Some of it would never work in a real car, but it’s still amazing to look at!

So, like I said, don’t be looking for the Ellure at your local Nissan dealer any time soon. The goofy roof, 21″ wheels, suicide doors, and alien spacecraft interior would never make it past Carlos Ghosn’s bean counters. But this is supposed to be a vision of future Nissan sedans, stylistically speaking – and if that’s the case, the future is bright.