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Nissan rules out Navara-based SUV... for now

Already got one: Nissan will not follow Toyota, Ford, Isuzu and Holden down the seven-seat utility-based diesel SUV path and will instead focus on its American-built Pathfinder.

Pathfinder fits Nissan's seven-seat SUV role fine, but no place for Murano: Emery

1 Jun 2015

NISSAN Australia has ruled out an SUV version of its new NP300 Navara anytime soon, with the company's chief saying it has its bases covered with the Pathfinder, despite an industry trend towards the rugged wagon genre.

A number of rival car-makers have launched, or are planning to launch utility-based SUVs, including Ford’s locally-developed Everest that arrives in August, while late last month Toyota confirmed its Fortuner – based on the all-new HiLux – would come to Australia.

They will join the Holden Colorado 7 that has been on sale here since late 2012, and the mechanically related Isuzu MU-X, while a new version of the Triton-based Mitsubishi Challenger is on the way next year.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery told GoAuto that there was currently nothing in the global Nissan portfolio that resembled a wagon version of the Navara, and even if something came up, the local arm has it covered off.

“There’s nothing imminent,” he told GoAuto. “If it does become available to us in the future we then still have to have a discussion about whether the volume opportunity is worth particular investment that might be required for Australia.”

Mr Emery highlighted the fact that the brand was only missing an SUV from that segment in its current line-up, but filling that gap was not necessarily a given, even if the product was available.

“We would say that with our SUV range – Qashqai, X-Trail, Pathfinder and Patrol – there is a missing link there to some extent, and that is a seven-seater four-wheel-drive diesel,” he admitted. “If that was offered to us, we certainly would have to have a serious look at it, because it is a gap in our line-up.

“Mind you, it'd be adding another car to an already extensive SUV range, and we'd really have to think about that seriously before we took it.” The Pathfinder was based on the Navara in its previous generation, but switched to more car-like monocoque-chassis underpinnings with the current fourth-generation model, which is sourced from the US and launched here in October 2013.

“Pathfinder certainly fits the bill for what we think the consumers are looking for,” he said. “Yes, it doesn't offer diesel and it's not a true four-wheel drive, but we think there's a move back towards consumers who want a big wagon, a family wagon if you want to call it that.

“They want more car-like than what some of these offerings are going to be.”

Mr Emery believes that the Pathfinder will come into its own as other seven-seat SUVs such as the Ford Everest and Toyota’s Fortuner join the likes of the Mitsubishi Challenger, Holden’s Colorado7 and the Isuzu MU-X in the Australian market.

“We think Pathfinder's got a great opportunity over the next two or three years,” he declared. “The rest of the choices consumers are going to have are basically SUV-based products. Ours is very much a car-based product. We think this might be a competitive advantage going forth with Pathfinder.”

Mr Emery also confirmed to GoAuto that the third-generation Murano SUV would not be coming to Australia.

“I don't know whether we've been in print yet, but we probably won't take (next-generation) Murano,” he said. “It's just adding another product into that line-up that may not be offering us any greater volume opportunities. The current car's got about six months to go (before stock is depleted).”

Unveiled at last year’s New York motor show, there were indications that the third-gen Murano would come to Australia mid-way through 2015, sourced from a plant in Mississippi, Tennessee, but Mr Emery told GoAuto in April that its future was uncertain.

The two-variant five-seat-only Murano line-up is seen as a more premium offering in the large-SUV segment, with prices ranging from $48,990 to $60,240, plus on-road costs.

Nissan has sold just 172 Muranos in the first four months of 2015, making it one of the slowest-selling models in its segment.

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