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Navara Warrior ute can go further: Premcar

Room to improve performance of Nissan Warrior as OEMs take interest in Premcar ops

25 Feb 2020

FAST-GROWING Australian automotive engineering and product development firm Premcar has revealed that the Navara N-Trek Warrior ute it has developed with Nissan still has scope for a potent high-performance version to sit atop the range.


And this could be just the beginning, with other Nissan models known to be in the pipeline and discussions underway with rival OEMs who are looking at similarly cost-effective, world-standard performance-enhancement product programs.


In an interview with GoAuto, Premcar engineering director Bernie Quinn said it was “our dream and our target” to create a higher-performing Navara grade that could be considered aspirational.


“There’s always room to go up,” he said. “And that’s been our history – the long-term engagements we’ve had with OEMs has been: we start at a level, and we keep going the next step up, the next step up, the next step up.


“With Ford we went from XR6 to supercharged GTs, and that was really a stepping stone. As the vehicles got more and more popular, they became mainstream and we had to go to the aspirational product, another step up.


“So in terms of replicating that model, that is our dream and our target with the Nissan-Premcar relationship.”


He added that the initial success of the Warrior gave him hope that Nissan Motor Co in Japan would invest further into the Warrior program to enable Premcar to enhance the performance of the Navara and build “more exciting products”.


Premcar forged its reputation tuning high-performance family sedans such as the Australian-built Ford Falcon, and while the Navara N-Trek Warrior’s 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel powertrain was left alone, Mr Quinn said his team had worked on a number of high-level programs for (unnamed) OEMs tuning oil-burning engines.


Asked whether Nissan had floated the idea of an enhanced version of the Warrior, Mr Quinn said: “I think it’s fair to say we’ve had plenty of discussion about Warrior as an ongoing brand.”


Premcar’s desire for a high-performance pick-up is not limited to Nissan and the Navara, with the company holding discussions with other OEMs as a direct result of the Warrior ute program.


Mr Quinn said he speaks with “as many people as (he) can” and is naturally paying close attention to the wide variety of brands including Ford, Volkswagen, Isuzu and Mitsubishi which are set to release all-new pick-ups in coming years.


He said the release of the Navara Warrior had attracted the attention of other companies, leading to discussions on potential partnerships.


“Has this been beneficial to the exposure to Premcar’s capabilities in the market? Definitely,’ he said.


“I think it’s given us a little shot in the arm in terms of, ‘Oh, Premcar are capable of that as well’. And subsequently we’ve had discussions with other OEMs.”


As GoAuto reported earlier this month, Nissan Australia is preparing to expand the Warrior brand beyond the Navara to the Patrol upper-large SUV, with engine modifications high on the agenda along with slightly more aggressive styling and off-road enhancements such as lifted and retuned suspension and chunkier rubber.


Currently, the Patrol produces 298kW/560Nm from its 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine, with a Nismo version offered in the Middle East upping power to 319kW.


However, when speaking to GoAuto at a drive event for the MY20 Patrol and other SUVs earlier this month, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester suggested he wants the Patrol Warrior to go even further and that the Australian performance partner – Premcar – was ideally placed to handle the job.


“I would actually stop asking, ‘Well, is the Nismo engine option (for Patrol) available?’ (and instead ask) ‘What else is there, how much further can we go?” he said.


One option for a Patrol Warrior would be to employ a supercharger, which already exists on the Australian automotive aftermarket from the likes of Harrop Performance and sees power and torque push up to 353kW/638Nm at the flywheel, from 230kW/454Nm stock.


Premcar has a history with superchargers, notably with the swansong Ford FG X Falcon GT which was limited to 100 units and punched out a fearsome 483kW at 6800rpm and 753Nm from 4500-5200rpm from its blown 5.0-litre V8.


Premcar runs its Navara N-Trek Warrior program out of a new factory in Epping in Melbourne’s north, with Mr Quinn saying there would be a number of ways the company can tweak its production line to add new models alongside the 13 Navara Warriors produced each day.


A new vehicle could be integrated into the existing Navara line which has been deliberately designed to be generic enough to accommodate different models, while there is also space in a separate corner of the facility to create a second line.


Alternatively, areas of its open-air carpark could be converted into additional factory space, while Mr Quinn said Premcar has a positive relationship with its landlord who owns additional facilities nearby.


In any case, the lead time required for product engineering and development would allow Premcar ample time to sort out a solution for its limited factory space.


The company has also worked with analytics and modelling specialist Concerto, which helped streamline the Navara Warrior production line to bring average work time at each line station down from around 45 minutes to 34.


When asked whether there were any particular Nissan models Premcar would like to work on, Mr Quinn said the GT-R would be a dream opportunity, but he did not anticipate receiving the keys to tune up Nissan’s halo performance model any time soon.

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