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New Nissan, Honda crossovers are not for Oz

US only: The Honda-made Acura ZDX will sit above the MDX SUV when it goes on sale in North America later this year.

BMW X6-mimicking soft-roaders from Nissan and Honda will not be sold here

23 Jul 2009

BMW’S SUV-on-steroids X6 has been a smash-hit in Australia, where 639 have been sold in the 12 months since its July 2008 launch, but two similar new luxury crossovers from Honda and Nissan will not follow in its footsteps here.

While the X6 has attracted more than 35,000 buyers globally, falling short of the original sales forecast of 40,000 set by BMW at its US launch in April, the oddball super-SUV has outsold a host of luxury challenges here, including Porsche’s Cayenne, the Lexus LX570, Volvo’s XC70, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and, as BMW is keen to point out, the entire Maserati range.

Now two fresh luxury SUV-coupe entrants released overseas in the past week will attempt to emulate the X6’s sales success, if not its polarising styling.

First up is the Honda’s X6 lookalike will go on sale in the US later this year, in the shape of the Acura ZDX. As we reported when the newest Acura was previewed by a concept going by the same name at the New York motor show in April, neither the ZDX nor Honda’s luxury brand will be sold in Australia any time soon.

 center imageLeft: Acura ZDX. Below: Nissan Skyline Crossover.

Like the smaller but almost identically-styled Accord Crosstourer, the MDX-based ZDX is a left-hand drive model to be sold only in North America. Like the EX35/Skyline, it is powered by a 3.7-litre petrol V6, this time offering 221kW and allied to a six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters, driving all four wheels.

Confirmed for production last week, the Acura ZDX will come standard in the US with 19-inch alloy wheels, a hand-stitched leather interior, panoramic glass sunroof and adaptive cruise control. It will be positioned above the MDX in Acura’s US range.

Honda will also release the Accord-based Crosstour soft-roader in the US this year. Priced above the CR-V in Honda’s SUV line-up, it is expected to be powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, a 3.5-litre V6 and, possibly, the Acura RDX’s turbocharged 2.3-litre four.

Meanwhile, the Nissan Skyline Crossover, which is Japan’s version of the Infiniti EX35 luxury SUV released in the US in late 2007, has just gone on sale afer being announced earlier this year.

Nissan’s luxury brand is not sold in Japan or Australia, where Infiniti was on the verge of being launched before the global financial crisis emerged last year.

Japan continues to be the only nation in the Nissan world that has special dispensation to sell Infiniti models as Nissans, and the Skyline Crossover is the latest example of this. Australia will not follow suit, however, ruling out a local launch of the Skyline Crossover – for now.

Whether the EX35 – or other Infiniti models including the new G35 coupe and convertible – go on sale in Australia depends on when Infiniti launches as a brand here, and how old those models are at that stage.

“Infiniti will come here – the question is when,” said Nissan Australia corporate communications manager Jeff Fisher. “When – not if – Infiniti arrives here it (the EX35) may or may not be part of the range.

“Our Infiniti plans were relatively well advanced in the middle of last year but everything’s now on the backburner. We’re waiting on market conditions to improve before committing to Infiniti.

“The question is do we want to go to market with those current cars or wait for their replacements. It is a product timing issue now,” said Mr Fisher, who added that the redesigned 370Z roadster was still on target for an early 2010 launch in Australia.

The Skyline Crossover went on sale in Japan last week, priced from $A54,390, and is expected to attract 200 buyers a month. It is powered by Nissan’s new 243kW 3.7-litre VQ37VHR engine, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The Skyline coupe-SUV features the latest Nissan technologies, headlined by the ‘Around View Monitor with Parking Guide’ and also including a lane departure warning system, active Xenon headlights, LED tail-lights, active head restraints, a Bose audio system and a ‘Carwings’ hard-drive/navigation system.

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