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Note joins Micra, Kicks in Nissan small-car decision

Kick it off: Nissan is investigating whether the Kicks crossover could be added to its Australian line-up down the track.

Nissan mulls boxy hatch, while next Pulsar also a likely starter

8 May 2017

NISSAN Australia has confirmed that the next-generation Note ‘space hatch’ due in about two years is one of the models that could help fill the void left in the company’s sub-$25,000 line-up in the wake of the Pulsar sedan’s recent early exit from Australia.

Joining the all-new European Micra hatch and Kicks light SUV as contenders for an Australian birth, all models would be positioned below the larger next-generation Pulsar range that is currently under development and is also expected to hit our shores.

Additionally, if the Note makes it to Australia, there is a chance that Nissan might consider importing the successor to the recently introduced Note e-Power petrol-electric hybrid that is a strong seller in Japan, as a point of difference in the hotly contested small-car class.

“Besides the Micra there’s the next Note out of Japan, European version of the Pulsar hatch, the American version of the Pulsar sedan, and then there’s the new Kicks brought to market in South America last year,” Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery told GoAuto at the launch of the X-Trail in Melbourne late last month.

“We’ve been hugely successful with e-Note in Japan. And so it’s certainly something we’re keeping an eye on. They’re at capacity with e-Note, but there is a next generation coming on that product.” However, according to Mr Emery, none of the candidates are likely to see the light of day in Australia before 2019 due to either production availability (Note) or delays in accessing the right automatic specification (Micra and Kicks, as reported in GoAuto in late March).

“Any car that’s available, we look at,” he said. “(But there are) factors at play – specification, availability, pricing, supply. For instance, the new Micra is still only available as a manual.

“There is a whole range of products that would fit between $15,000 and $25,000 to market. If I talked in an ill-disciplined approach – ‘I want a bit of all of those’ – then you finish up with some of the wrong cars.

“So we’re making sure that if we look at that market segment, we have to figure out what is the market expectation for that product over the next five years with that product, what suits, what’s coming out of the Nissan world globally and what we can make work. That’s simply the process we’re going through at the moment.

“Whether it’s 18 months or whatever, it’s too early to predict.” Slightly larger than the current Honda Jazz that it most closely aligns with packaging wise, the Note is the second version since the series debuted in 2004, and was released globally in 2013.

It is based on Nissan’s ‘V’ B-segment platform that underpins a variety of the light and small cars offered in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, including the Pulsar Hatch that was dropped from the Australian line-up next year.

The next-gen Note is likely to be unveiled in 2019, and will most likely switch to an evolved version of the V architecture shared with the latest Micra. The inclusion of the e-Power hybrid variant is part of Nissan’s stated goal to eventually switch to a 100 per cent emissions-free line-up.

The e-Note was released late last year in Japan and uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol-electric drivetrain capable of sipping 2.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. Always employing the electric motor and relying completely on the internal combustion petrol engine and regenerative braking to charge the battery pack, e-Power drivetrain is set to roll out in most future Nissans moving forward, including in the Micra.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Micra range may be produced in Indonesia from next year, opening the door for a more competitively priced and specified version for Australia. The previous version was briefly sourced from there during 2011/2.

For now the new Micra is built at the Renault-Nissan Alliance factory at Flins-sur-Seine in France, and shares its powertrains with the closely related Renault Clio and Captur.

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