A five-year plan from Nissan’s performance division will yield go-fast SUVs and – possibly – a ute with one eye on the race track. And Australia is on the global expansion hit list for the brand which is planning a big family.
First out of the blocks for Australia is likely to be the Nismo version of the Nissan GT-R, possibly as early as 2017.
Speaking days after the reveal of the updated MY17 Nissan GT-R Nismo – with 441kW it’s the most powerful Nissan ever produced – the man responsible for Nismo road cars has raised hopes that Australia will soon have some spicier Nissans.
“We’re trying to reinforce Nismo … to build on the products that we have, introduce new models and grow and expand globally,” said program manager and Nissan performance car specialist, Bob Laishley.
“We’ve got to be careful not just to have Nismo for Nismo’s sake. We carefully select what we’re trying to do with Nismo, different markets have different requirements.”
While Laishley said not every Nissan will get the Nismo treatment – and some Nismo models may only be produced with the steering wheel on the left, ruling them out for Australia – he didn’t discount a Nismo version of the Navara ute.
“We’re looking at everything from crossovers to pickups,” he said. “It’s an area we certainly have to explore. We’ve just launched the [Nismo] Patrol in the Middle East to huge success; it’s been very, very well received.”
Laishley pointed to Europe as key to the expansion and development of Nismo.
“Europe can hopefully lead our development because if we can satisfy the European petrol heads then we’ll have a good product.”
He said a small Nismo, possibly based on the next generation Micra and/or Pulsar, was a high chance.
“For sure we’re looking at working in that area. I would like to do something in that space.”
Laishley also added that the strength of the Nissan brand and increasing worldwide demand for performance models is making the case for broadening the Nismo appeal beyond the Japanese market.
“There’s a recognition that growing Nismo outside of Japan is a good idea and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Laishley.
Importantly, he said Australia was in the mix for countries that would get Nismo product.
Laishley also left the door open to future Nismo cars sharing some components with high-performance Ralliart models from Mitsubishi, the company Nissan has announced it plans to take a controlling 34 percent stake in.
“These are all questions I’m asking internally as well. You can draw your own conclusions; I’m not going to comment,” he smiled.