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Pulsar SSS sedan in Nissan cross-hairs

Pulsar punch: The turbocharged SSS version of Nissan’s upcoming Pulsar hatchback (pictured) may eventually be replicated in the sedan body style.

Sporty SSS sedan could top off Pulsar line-up in Oz as Nissan lines up the launches

Nissan logo31 Jan 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

NISSAN is looking at adding a sporty SSS version of its just-launched, re-born Pulsar sedan, but beyond that the company has no plans to increase the number of drivetrain variants in its volume-boosting new small car line-up.

During an interview at this week’s Pulsar launch, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Bill Peffer told GoAuto the SSS sedan is still at “consideration stage” and no engineering work has yet been done.

“There is no definitive or confirmed plan when it will come but it is something we are looking at,” said Mr Peffer.

In any case, Nissan Australia’s hectic launch schedule – that will average one new product every 10 weeks for the next 30 months – could result in the Pulsar SSS arriving late next year or even 2015.

Nissan will bring back its iconic SSS badge for flagship variant of the Pulsar hatch when it joins the sedan in Australian showrooms during the second quarter of this year, powered by a 140kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with direct injection.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Bill Peffer.

Mainstream hatch variants will share the sedan’s 96kW/174Nm normally aspirated, port-injected 1.8-litre engine.

Up-spec mainstream variants of competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda6 and Toyota Corolla sedan have larger engines but Mr Peffer was “wary of thinking about additional variants” for the Pulsar range.

“We have a full suite of hatch, sedan, normally aspirated, turbo, three different series – four if you include the SSS – so we have a really flexible line-up,” he said.

“At this stage it is those two (1.8 and 1.6 turbo) as we go against a lifecycle that has several years to it.”

Mr Peffer agreed there might be room to “ do something else” in terms of expanding the Pulsar range in future but any potential changes were a long way off.

“We could do something else but it is way early to talk about it,” he said.

“The challenge we are going to have is how enter to this segment that is one-fourth of the new car population with a qualified product offering to triple or quadruple our sales there.”

Quadrupling Nissan’s small segment sales would mean around 12,000 units per annum, and Mr Peffer was confident that Australian operation has secured adequate supply from the factory in Thailand.

Slow sales of the outgoing Tiida small hatch and sedan led to the popular Dualis compact SUV largely filling the role of Nissan’s small car offering in this country, but Mr Peffer did not expect the new Pulsar to cannibalise Dualis sales.

Asked if that meant Nissan can expect a sales increase of at least 10,000 units this year due to the arrival of Pulsar, Mr Peffer said: “If we continue the sales pace of the existing model line-up, yes.”

Sustaining sales pace and showroom interest should be no problem for Nissan this year with the Patrol V8 luxury SUV, Altima mid-size sedan, Pathfinder seven-seat SUV and a diesel version of the Dualis all arriving before the end of this year.

Between those will also be updates to the 370Z and GT-R sports cars, plus the all-electric Leaf, while the Micra light car has just undergone changes brought about by changing the factory source from Indonesia to India.

Mr Peffer declined to comment on what new products will come next year but next-generation X-Trail and Murano SUVs have both been previewed by concepts in the last 10 months and a replacement for the Navara one-tonne ute cannot be far off.

Nissan sales hit record levels in Australia last year, with 79,747 vehicles registered, up 17.4 per cent on the 2011 result.

What’s coming from Nissan:
PulsarFebruary
PatrolFebruary
GT-R upgradeFebruary
370Z upgradeMarch
Leaf upgradeApril
Pulsar hatchMay
Dualis dieselMid-year
JukeSecond half
AltimaSecond half
PathfinderSecond half

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