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Entry sportscar part of Nissan ‘dream plan’

Rival to Mazda MX-5, Toyota GR86 likely as Nissan contemplates entry-level sportscar

1 Nov 2023

NISSAN senior vice president of product planning, Ivan Espinosa, has told UK publication TopGear that an entry sportscar is part of a ‘dream plan’ envisaged by the brand to return affordable performance to its future portfolio.


The model, which would sit beneath the Z as a rival to the likes of the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota GR86, could potentially revive past Nissan nameplates, including the 200 SX or Pulsar SSS.


“I think car manufacturers, in general, have forgotten about the passion for cars,” said Mr Espinosa.


“It depends on the country, but you can see that young customers are less and less attracted to cars.”


Mr Espinosa told TopGear that a lack of affordable offerings across manufacturer portfolios had resulted in a loss of interest from younger buyers and says his “dream plan” is for a future where Nissan can offer a model that will help reignite that interest – possibly with an all-electric driveline.


“I am not sure about a hot hatch (per se), but maybe a smaller electric sportscar you could think of. Something smaller, a bit more affordable. Definitely,” he added.


Noting that Nissan has always offered a three-tiered performance car range, Mr Espinosa said that was something he was working toward, possibly while leveraging Nismo engineering.


“Depending on which point in time you take, we have always had the GT-R, we have always had the Z, and we have always had an entry (level car), either a hot hatch like the Pulsar, or something else down there (at that price and performance point),” he explained.


“And this, today, is something that we kind of miss. This (price and performance) point.”


Locally, Nissan’s sports offering begins with the Z, which is available from $75,800 plus on-road costs.


The Z is a massive step above ‘entry’ sportscars like the Mazda MX-5 (from $39,060 +ORC), Subaru BRZ (from $40,290 +ORC) and Toyota GR86 (from $43,240 +ORC), all of which offer engaging performance at a more accessible price.


Clearly there is an opportunity to be had…


“How do we move into the future? Ideally, to keep these three elements as our sportscar offerings. A top-of-the-line GT-R with its Nismo variant, a Z with its Nismo variant, and an entry-level car with its Nismo variant as well,” he said.


“This could be a kind of ideal sportscar offering.


“I am not sure if it is a hatch, but something that is a bit more of an entry point for younger buyers, an early 20s kind of customer that is passionate about cars.”


Potentially referencing one of Nissan’s recent ‘Hyper’ concepts, Mr Espinosa told TopGear any new entry-level sportscar would need to be not only “exciting and engaging to drive”, but also allow owners to remain connected to their friends and to the community as a whole.


“This is one of the things that can make the flame come back again,” he added.


With TopGear UK


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