From Sketch to the Streets: 10 Design Highlights from New Nissan Terra

Q&A with Ken Lee, Nissan Global Senior Design Director

(L-R) New Nissan Terra’s initial concept sketch, and the real vehicle now launched in Thailand in August.

Ken Lee, Nissan Global Senior Design Director

New Nissan Terra has now hit Thailand's streets, as a great family SUV with best-in-class entertainment and safety. But from when it was just a sketch and concept a few years ago in Nissan's Global Design center, Ken Lee, Nissan Global Senior Design Director, shares the 10 best design secrets that crafted its unique project.

1. Tell us about the inspiration behind Terra's many design upgrades?

New Terra was made to have dynamic modernity, and be protective and strong. At the front we wanted it to have bold presence, so the design is more upright, and the grill and bumpers get more prominent. Then we balance that imposing SUV strength, with high tech lighting and sleek lines. It creates contrast that creates the unexpected - a Nissan design signature.

2. What is your favorite `unexpected' detail about Terra's design?

Definitely the headlights and tail lights, they are the car's jewelry. People love signature lamps, so we invest a lot of energy and time in the lighting. They need to be distinctive, yet very functional. So the LED projectors take less energy, but shine 34% brighter. Looking closely at Terra's headlights, the cube formation is eye-catching and each bezel that holds the lights are intricately designed - it looks like modern architecture. Then the signatures are slim and horizontal, giving that very high-tech feel. Designers really take pride in attention to detail.

3. People have commented about shared inspiration between Nissan Terra and legendary Nissan Patrol – is it true?

Our design studio in Japan is a huge, long building. There is many rooms with different products being developed. The Terra was being developed in one room with full sized clay models. A little further down, the Patrol was being developed. It was the great benefit of developing them at the same time, they inspired each other!

4. You have said a car's interior should make people say `wow.' How did you achieve this in Terra?

We always start out with what customers would like more of. For Terra, it was more `premium and luxurious.' The interior should give an inviting feeling, but have a sense of `wow.' For those who want something interesting, the two-tone is for you! You have beautiful burgundy or beige between the black, giving a sense of balance and luxury.

The instrument panel is wrapped in soft material and spans from one end to another. It looks strong, but because it's soft, its premium and rich - not just a boring rectangle. The satin silver finisher adds a refined quality. Finally, we incorporate a bigger center screen so it's more upscale and high tech, this is the `wow' part

5. You believe beauty is in small details, is this the same for Terra's design?

Good question! Yes, a great example is the increased chrome that gives the Terra a premium look. But it's the design details playing with the chrome that add something extra. Look closely at the Terra hood, there is a sharp crease that runs through the light onto the grill. The grill is not just two dimensional, it has a clever interface of parts interlocking together with beautiful precision. So the Headlamps, the grill - feel seamless. Then in the rear, there is a chrome center bar which connects the tail lamps together, it's unusual because most finishers are just horizontal. But the bridge movement gives structure and strength.

6. Which new Terra design would you buy?

I personally love the Twilight Gray, and definitely the burgundy interior because it looks luxurious. So the exterior is stealthy and stylish, then the burgundy interior scheme gives that exclusive character.

7. The Japanese-inspired seat patterns are unique, why was that added?

To add tactile richness. At Nissan there is always a sense of Japanese craftsmanship. There is no specific pattern – as the designers get inspired, when they draw it comes out. That's the magic.

8. Why did you become a car designer?

I grew up in Hong Kong, then moved to L.A, which is a car city. Even when I was very young, I'd draw cars. At 10 I discovered that the car design was a job because I saw it on TV, so I decided right then it would be my career. Putting those two things together was my dream, and still is today.

9. Describe a designer's greatest happiness:

Nissan cars are made by passionate people, for people who are passionate. We have more than 70 years of making trucks and SUVs. We want to create something the customers can be very proud to own. That brings us the most satisfaction.

10. Share a message to Thai Terra fans?

Thank you for your support for new Nissan Terra! I would be very happy to engage with Thai Terra fans like I do with other customers around the world via Instagram. I'm glad that people like its luxury qualities, and how it combines toughness and technology. That's what we live for. Going from a drawing a few years earlier, and then seeing it in a driveway!


To learn more about the New Nissan Terra, please visit:

# # #

For information about Nissan Motor (Thailand) Co., Ltd., please visit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

For more information about Nissan's products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and see all our latest videos on YouTube.

For more information, please contact:
Kamolchanok Charoenjindarat
Nissan Motor (Thailand) Co., Ltd. - Communications Department
Tel +66 (0) 2339 3400 Ext. 4113-4114 /