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Micra to multiply

Putting the boot in: The all-new Micra hatchback will soon be joined for the first time by a light-sized sedan.

Nissan Australia kicks off two-year new model revolution with Mk4 Micra

22 Nov 2010

NEXT week’s launch of the redesigned Micra hatch will be the first of no fewer than eight new model releases from Nissan Australia over the next two years.

The all-new light-sized hatchback will be joined for the first time in a little over 12 months by a Micra-based sedan, before replacements for the small Tiida sedan and hatch join the redesigned Patrol and all-new Leaf EV on sale in Australia in 2012.

Nissan’s two-year model revolution will then culminate in the launch of the luxury Infiniti brand in Australia during the company’s mid-term business plan, GT2012, which concludes in March 2013.

Nissan Motor Co Australia CEO Dan Thompson said the all-new Micra-based ‘New Global Sedan’ – previewed in sketch form in October ahead of its world debut at the China International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou next month – will bolster Nissan’s presence in the sedan division of the pint-size vehicle category, which it expects will expand significantly from its current 13.2 per cent of the Australian market.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Micra.

Nissan’s all-new light-sized sedan – which will not be known as a Micra – will be a direct rival for sedan versions of the Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Honda City, Kia Rio and Hyundai’s upcoming Accent, which, as GoAuto has revealed, will effectively replace the Getz by joining the i20 on sale here around mid-2011.

“Given some of the competitive announcements and actions of late, we think that the sedan portion of the light segment will grow over the next five years and we’ve made a decision to bring in the sedan variant off the V (K13 Micra) platform,” said Mr Thompson.

“That will complete the strategy in the light segment for Nissan.” Nissan’s chief product specialist for the V platform, Kazuhiro Doi, told GoAuto last week that Australia’s Micra-based sedan, which will wear one of four names for the new model globally, will be available for Australia in about 12 months, although Nissan Australia executives have confirmed an early 2012 release.

The third derivative of Nissan’s new global B-segment platform – a compact people-mover – will not be sold in Australia.

Mr Doi said the four-door V-platform MPV will ride on a longer wheelbase than the Micra hatch (2435mm) and, at up to 4.4 metres long overall, will be almost as large as the current Tiida sedan (4470mm).

“You won’t believe it is based on the Micra platform – it’s huge,” said Mr Doi.

Nissan has ruled out diesel versions of both the Micra (and its upcoming sedan sibling) and the Tiida Replacement (TR) for Australia, but is considering developing a performance-leading Micra powered by a supercharged direct-injection version of the model’s new 1.2-litre three-cylinder base engine.

An economy-leading version of the blown triple is part of the new Micra range in Europe, where it emits less than 95g/km of CO2 – a benchmark figure for a conventional petrol-powered light-car.

However, Mr Doi told GoAuto that, if fuel-efficiency was not the top priority, the force-fed 1.2 could be tuned and fitted in a range-topping model that delivers more performance than the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine available in more expensive Micra variants.

The Micra 1.5 is unique to Australia, while a 1.5-litre diesel version is available in India and an all-wheel drive variant is offered in Japan.

While the Micra-based sedan is expected to be built for Australia alongside the hatch in Thailand, replacements for the larger Tiida hatch and sedan – which, as we’ve reported, are almost certain to reintroduce the Pulsar nameplate in Australia – will be released here later in 2012.

GoAuto understands both new small cars will be underpinned by the same Nissan-Renault alliance C-segment platform that is seen under Renault’s new Megane small-car range, with the sedan to be twinned with North America’s Nissan Sentra successor.

“In the small segment, which is the biggest segment, the Tiida Replacement offers a massive opportunity for us and will come as both a hatch and sedan,” confirmed Mr Thompson.

In March, Mr Thompson said that – like the Micra – the TR was expected to be a genuine top-three sales contender in its class.

Nissan says it remains committed to launching the Leaf locally in 2012 – the same year the Japanese car-maker will finally release its next-generation Patrol, though there is no word on diesel power for the all-new full-size off-roader.

“And then we’ve got the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market zero-emissions EV, and the all-new Patrol, in 2012 - and that will lead to our, which will include vans,” said Mr Thompson said Nissan would then initiate its “fleet strategy”, referring to Nissan’s aim of selling the Japanese brand’s latest NV200 commercial vehicle Down Under.

Nissan Australia’s GT2012 plan will culminate with the launch of the Infiniti luxury brand, for which it has put in a place a local product management team and which could also comprise an all-new compact three-door coupe to emerge at the Geneva motor show in March.

Before all that, Nissan will release a new entry-level version of its X-Trail compact SUV priced from under $30,000 in January, followed by additions to its top-selling Navara and Dualis model line-ups later next year, while the Juke city-SUV remains under consideration for Australia.

Finally, in order to free up more supplies, production of Nissan’s premium Maxima sedan for Australia will soon switch from Thailand to Japan.

What's coming from Nissan:
New Micra December
X-Trail 2WD January
Navara variants 2011
Dualis variants 2011
New Patrol 2012
All-new Leaf EV 2012
Micra sedan 2012
Tiida replacement 2012
Infiniti range 2013

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