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Happy X-Trails for Nissan

Nissan has big plans and hopes for the X-Trail compact four-wheel drive.

Compact four-wheel drive X-Trail will be launched next year but Nissan will not be bringing the Micra or 1.6-litre Pulsar hatch to Australia

27 Nov 2000

NISSAN Australia has confirmed the compact four-wheel drive X-Trail will be launched in Australia at next year's Sydney International Motor Show.

But exchange rate woes have killed off any hope of the Nissan Micra light car returning to Australia, or the appearance of a 1.6-litre version of the Pulsar hatchback.

The British-built hatch will be launched at the Melbourne International Motor Show in March with a 1.8-litre engine. A facelifted Navara commercial range is also due in 2001, along with a facelifted Maxima and Patrol.

National sales director Paul Stead and passenger vehicles marketing manager Philip Brook fly to the UK early in the new year to finalise negotiations for the Pulsar hatch, which is built in right-hand drive form only in the Sunderland assembly plant.

Negotiations will decide the fate of the 2.0-litre SSS hatchback.

"If we can't get the SSS at a price we can sell it at, then we'll have to bin it," Mr Stead said.

"There's a market for it, but whether we can get the car in at the price to suit the market is the question. It's a very price sensitive market - I certainly wouldn't like to go beyond $26,000." With the hatchback joining the Japanese-built sedan, Nissan Australia expects to sell well over 20,000 Pulsars annually. In 1999, 22,591 of the previous generation Pulsar were sold.

Mr Stead viewed the next generation Micra in Japan three weeks ago and liked what he saw but said Nissan Australia could not afford it.

"We looked at a Micra in three and five-door and we could probably even at today's exchange rate sell the five-door. But the problem is you need the three-door entry car to get the five-door sales and at today's exchange rate we can't do it." The X-Trail is a different proposition with Nissan Australia desperately keen to get into the booming compact market up against the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Launched in Tokyo on October 19, the X-Trail is powered by Nissan's 2.0-litre, four-cylinder QR20DE engine producing 110kW and 200Nm, with either manual five-speed or auto four-speed transmission options. In February, 2001, a GT version equipped with a 206kW 2.0-litre turbo engine will join the line-up The X-Trail features a new 4WD system developed for a front-wheel-drive layout. This system transmits the necessary amount of torque to the rear wheels based on detection of the driving conditions and road surface condition.

During ordinary driving, such as when travelling in urban areas, the system operates in the 2WD mode.

At the touch of a switch, the driver can select one of three driving modes - Auto, 2WD and Lock (having a fixed front/rear torque split of 57:43).

Mr Stead refused to speculate on X-Trail model line-up or specification, but said no version had yet been ruled out.

'Godzilla' set to returnNISSAN'S awesome "Godzilla" GT-R Skyline is a certainty to come back to Australia - it is just a question of when.

Nissan Australia sales director Paul Stead said 100 cars would be imported courtesy of the Federal Government's new low volume scheme.

A new generation R35 Skyline is tipped to appear in Japan as early as December, 2003, but Mr Stead would not give exact timing for a re-launch of the model Nissan sold here in tiny numbers in the early 1990s.

"It's a bit of a distraction for us, bit of a distraction for our dealers, but I think at the end of the day we'll do it," Mr Stead said.

"I don't think it will be a marketing decision. It'll be an automotive passion decision - I think there's a few dealer principals who wouldn't mind one, there's a few company executives who wouldn't mind one, and I think there's a few motoring journos interested to drive one." And the pricing? Well beyond $150,000 is Mr Stead's guess.

Meanwhile, the new Z-Car is expected to be revealed by Nissan president Carlos Ghosn at the Detroit motor show in January.

It would take about two years for a right-hand drive version to reach Australia.

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