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Performance-focused Navara not a priority: Nissan

Nissan Navara Nismo could happen eventually but Daimler V6 looking unlikely

Nissan logo20 Nov 2018

By JUSTIN HILLIARD in MOROCCO

NISSAN Motor Company says it is still evaluating whether to produce a competitor for the Ford Ranger Raptor and other performance-oriented pick-ups – and is continuing to study potential powertrains – but has prioritised off-road-focused Navara variants over a possible Nismo model. 
 
Speaking to Australian journalists at an international light-commercial vehicle drive event in Morocco, Nissan’s global frame-based SUVs and pick-ups chief product specialist Pedro de Anda said a performance-focused Navara is still on the cards, but not number one in the pecking order.
 
“If it’s black or white, if we have to choose one, I can tell you off-road is clearly the priority,” he said. “There’s clearly a lot more interest from the customers on that side.
 
“A long time ago in Australia, the US and some other markets, on-road was the preference. Now it’s more the adventure, going anywhere and that kind of thing.
 
“The on-road, there’s still some niche and some customers that are interested in that … (so) there’s potential. It could be done.”
 
Navara variants like the off-road-oriented AT32, which Nissan Australia is working to secure for this market, are viewed as more important than a potential Nismo sports variant, although the door for such a model remains ajar, according to Mr de Anda.
 
“Patrol is the only (Nismo) collaboration we have with body-on-frame, and no pick-ups at the moment,” he said.
 
“I’m not representing Nismo, but Nismo’s also looking to expand to other markets and other models.”
 
If Nismo were to tune the Navara and take on the Ranger Raptor, the performance division could turn to a V6 engine for increased performance, but Mr de Anda cautioned that such an upgrade would not be an easy move, even if customer demand exists.
 
“Changing the engine is more challenging because of emissions requirements and investment involved in that,” he said.
 
“We’re aware, especially in Australia and some of Europe, there is this customer interest for the V6 that we once offered in the previous-generation Navara.
 
“It’s something that we’re studying, but there’s no plan at the moment.”
 
The D40-series Navara was available with a 170kW/550Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, but the powertrain was not offered with the D24 series that was released in June 2015.
 
Despite claims to the contrary from Daimler, Mr de Anda said the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance could potentially have access to the more potent but similarly sized six-cylinder diesel found in the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which is based on the Navara.
 
“The collaboration and the partnership with Daimler started with a powertrain focus, so in some ways potentially it could be (used in Navara),” he said. 
 
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t have any engine from Daimler and vice versa. In the end, we have this partnership, and when there’s a good opportunity that works for both sides, then we have access to each other’s powertrains.”
 
However, GoAuto understands that a V6 engine will not be offered with the current Navara, meaning Nissan may need to upgrade its 140kW/450Nm 2.3-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder engine or simply focus its attention on what is possible for the next generation.

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