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Future models - Nissan - Pathfinder

New York show: Rugged SUV to grow from next Navara

Rock on: The previous Nissan Pathfinder was based on Navara which had a ladder chassis that originated with the American Titan pick-up.

Pathfinder might have gone soft, but Nissan has a truck-tough new SUV in the wings

Nissan logo23 Apr 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

THE all-new Nissan Navara that is just weeks away from its global reveal is set to spawn a rugged new SUV wagon to fill a gap vacated by the Pathfinder, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer hinted at this week's New York motor show where the Japanese company pulled the covers from its new Murano crossover.

The new Navara-based vehicle – a Thai-built competitor for the Australian-developed Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Challenger, Isuzu MU-7 and Holden Colorado 7, among others – will effectively replace the old and discontinued Pathfinder wagon that was built on the Navara's truck-style underpinnings.

The latest Pathfinder – launched in 2013 – is built in America on a car-style monocoque architecture shared with Murano and Maxima, thus saving both weight and fuel while delivering a more sophisticated driving experience.

But Nissan appears to believe there is still a need for a tough-guy wagon for tough conditions, especially in south-east Asia and developing countries where roads can be haphazard and loads heavy.

Mr Palmer, who calls the shots on new Nissan and Infiniti models, told Australian journalists in New York that another SUV based on the new-generation Navara “would be logical”, adding jokingly: “That's rhetorical, by the way.” As GoAuto reported recently, Nissan is building a new factory in Thailand to manufacture the new-generation Navara for global markets, with the new vehicle expected to land in Australian showrooms from late this year or early 2015.

The factory is scheduled to be completed in August, allowing Nissan to dispense with an arrangement to farm out Navara production to Mitsubishi in Thailand.

The new Nissan light truck replaces the two aging Navara variants – the D22 and D40 – with a single up-to-date vehicle.

Mr Palmer revealed that the new Navara would have a new platform, doing away with the current platform borrowed from the American Titan large pick-up.

“The current model (Navara) basically uses the Titan platform, which frankly speaking makes it a little bit expensive, on cost, not price,” he said.

“What we have done with the next generation of global pick-up is gone to a bespoke platform which is much more cost-effective and allows us to address more general arduous conditions.” Mr Palmer suggested that details of the new Navara were imminent, saying: “You only have to wait a few weeks for that.” Nissan Australia has ruled out a Navara-based SUV for this market, instead throwing its efforts into the new Pathfinder, despite its lack of a diesel alternative to petrol engines.

But Mr Palmer confided that a solution might be in the pipeline for that issue as well, saying the next Titan would get diesel, meaning diesel engines, opening the door to more diesel models in the US.

He did not place a timetable on that, but said he wanted to see a diesel in Pathfinder as soon as practicable.

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