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Nismo is go for Oz, but not any time soon

Micra madness: A Nismo tuned version of the Nissan Micra may come to Australia and an extreme GT-R version is expected to appear at the Tokyo motor show.

Nissan chief wants Nismo here, but it remains a mid-term proposition at best

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Nissan logo12 Aug 2013

NISSAN Australia chief executive Bill Peffer has confirmed that tuned and toned Nismo road cars will be available in Australia eventually – but launch day remains some way off yet.

However, this is still a development, with the company previously expressing interest without unequivocally confirming it would add Nismo-badged models to its local showrooms.

Factory Nismo versions of the Juke and 370Z are already available in Europe. A Nismo Micra has also appeared in Japan, and a brutal GT-R version is odds-on to appear at the Tokyo motor show in November.

The Yokohama-based Nissan subsidiary also inked a development deal with Formula One team Williams Advanced Engineering last month, with the fruit of their combined labour to roll off production lines from 2014.

But rather than following suit in Australia immediately, Nissan plans to hold Nismo models in reserve for a period of time until its range needs a booster shot.

At the moment, the company sees the prospect of rolling out its halo brand here as an unwelcome distraction from a cavalcade of new volume models it is in the midst of launching.

Five new volume Nissans will arrive here by July 2014 – the regular Juke (around October), Pathfinder (December), Altima (January) and new-shape X-Trail and Dualis (both second quarter of 2014) – and the company is keen to liberate itself from any additional distractions.

“There’s a place for Nismo,” Mr Peffer told GoAuto last week. “Yes, there’s a day when Nismo makes it to Australia, I’m not willing or able to tell you when.”“The reason is this cadence of product coming out. The biggest challenge is giving each of these complex new models airspace before we bring the next one in. For instance, in the case of Juke, we’ll already have two trims, engines and transmissions.

“I see Nismo in Australia as a midlife-cycle event that can be used to re-inject some spice into the brand. Yes it’s in the plan, yes we’ll bring it in, but I can’t tell you yet when or what specific models.”

Mr Peffer said the halo effect of Nismo models – the industry theory goes that a high-end or sporty version of a car also boosts sales of lower-grade versions – would be valuable, but not something entirely new to the brand either.

“Yes, those act as halos to your brand, a distinguishable identity to your brand. But then, we already have some of that in our regular Z, with GT-R, even with a technological leader like Leaf EV.

“We have some of those products, but Nismo will help, though it isn’t needed right now.”

Each Nismo product revealed so far packs more power, sharper handling, unique exterior and interior styling, and aerodynamic improvements, capitalising on Nismo’s extensive motorsport experience.

The Juke gets a 147kW/250Nm version of the 1.6-litre turbo from the Pulsar SSS, a body kit that gives 37 per cent more downforce, Euro-tuned suspension, more steering resistance and 18-inch Nismo alloy wheels with wide 225-section tyres to improve traction and grip.

The cabin also gets suede-trimmed, heavily bolstered seats, a suede-effect steering wheel, red stitching, a red Nismo-branded tacho, a red ring around the starter button and custom trim for the instruments, vents, gear selector, window switches and centre console.

The 370Z gets a 6.5 per cent power boost from its 3.7-litre V6 – to 261kW – an aero package that gives GT-R levels of downforce, plus uprated springs, dampers and stabiliser bars, a more rigid strut brace, and a limited-slip differential on the rear axle for better in-corner traction.

Thie Nismo March (Micra) features a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an extra 27kW of power for a total output of 85kW and 156Nm of torque.

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