Bright hues, thick gloss, and shining ChromaFlair: Nissan orange is increasingly unique

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The current orange in Nissan's lineup was developed to coincide with the launch of the Sentra SR.

Nissan’s Sunset Drift ChromaFlair paint color isn’t your usual choice. It’s a bright and vibrant orange, not matte or candied, but attractive nonetheless. It’s available on nine of the models in Nissan’s North American lineup even though orange represents just four-tenths of one percent of the vehicles solid in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker’s ties with the color orange run deep. Orange was layered onto the body of the 1970 Datsun 240Z, and it’s available on the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

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This 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium wears Katsura Orange.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Today, Nissan offers more orange vehicles than any other automaker in the U.S. It’s on the Altima, Leaf, Rogue Sport, Maxima, Versa, Kicks, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra. Hyundai sells the Veloster in Sunset Orange, the Kia Soul comes in Mars Orange, and Lamborghini offers a number of options that look like they came from a bag of Skittles including Arancio Argos, Arancio Xanto, and Arancio Borealis.

Nicole Fonseca, Senior Design Manager at Nissan loves the color orange and spends 90 percent of her workday at Nissan Design America outside San Diego making color decisions for vehicles that are coming to the company’s lineup. “Orange is for a very specific customer,” Fonseca said. “They’re bold, confident and secure… and those are the same words we use when we’re developing the different hues of orange at the design center.”

Fonseca and her team are largely credited with having developed Sunset Drift. They wanted something bold.

“Orange evokes a feeling that no other color does, and I love to incorporate it into our designs,” said Fonseca. “Your car is an extension of who you are, and color is a big part of that. It’s the same as picking the colors for your nails, makeup or home – you do so to make a statement and show your personality.”

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Designers use renderings and real life models of new vehicles to determine if a paint colors is “right”.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The color was designed while work was underway on the current generation of the Nissan Altima, specifically their SR trim. One major component to achieving the look needed to make the Altima appear vibrant and saturated is a paint pigment known as Chromaflair. The trademarked ChromaFlair pigment makes the paint appear as different colors depending on the light source and view angle.

To test how the color will look on the cars in real life, Fonseca’s team uses more than digital renderings. They spray full-size mock ups of vehicles with two color options, divided down the center, so they can review them simultaneously.

“We need to evaluate them in real life,” Fonseca says. “Orange is very challenging to get just right. It can’t be too yellow or too red. It has to have the perfect balance.”

With Nissan launching 10 new products in the next 20 months, it’s likely that a new version of the orange color is on its way. For its part, the company isn’t saying much, just that “new hues and a bright future” are what color designers are working on now.

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