U13 Bluebird (Mk9 Bluebird)
1 Oct 1993
Datsun became known as Nissan during 1983. It also replaced the Bluebird name with various others over the years in Australia, except for the Mk5 from 1981 to 1986. The Bluebird name has been constant in Japan.
The U13 Bluebird was the first mass-market Nissan released after the cessation of local manufacturing.
Now fully imported from Japan, the new Bluebird sported the faddish organic look popular at the time, which was the work of its Californian design studio.
Only the single four-door body style was available here, in base LX, luxury Ti and sporty SSS models.
All were powered by a 112kW/210 2.4-litre twin-cam 16-valve KA24DE four-cylinder version of the old Pintara 2.4’s unit, allied to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.
Dynamics and refinement were greatly improved – the upshot of the return of independent rear suspension – while some of the Bluebird’s more advanced features included a viscous limited slip differential and “Head Up Display” instrumentation, which reflected some of its information onto the inside of the windscreen.
Such features – along with power steering, air-conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, alloy wheels, central locking, power windows, electric mirrors, cruise control and front-cornering lamps on all models – reflected the Bluebird’s march upmarket, to snare Mazda 626 and Subaru Liberty buyers.
From April ’95 a driver’s side airbag was added while cruise control disappeared in the LX as part of a wide-range facelift that included a new front grille, revised badging and new colours.
The U13 Bluebird sales were strong in Western markets but not in conservative Japan. So Nissan toned down the styling for the 1996 U14 series to the point where, because of its unremitting blandness, Nissan Australia rejected it for the expanded front-wheel drive A32 Maxima range.
The “hole” in its local product line-up has remained since local U13 Bluebird supplies dried up in late ’97.