Speaking at the Australian media launch of the all-new Nissan Patrol, Nissan general manager of marketing Peter Clissold confirmed that a thorough analysis of the Altima’s competitors in the mid-sized class is “underway”, hinting that a starting price starting with a ‘two’ would be ideal.
“It’s a little early for pricing discussions, but certainly that [under $30,000] is a sweet spot in this segment,” said Clissold.
The Nissan Altima will launch locally with a choice of 136kW 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder and 201kW 3.5-litre V6 engines, both matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Clissold confirmed that the introduction of the Altima would kill off the slow-selling Maxima (above), ending the nameplate’s 23 year tenure in this country. The Maxima shares the Altima’s V6 engine, but Nissan has never sold a four-cylinder Maxima in this country, making the 2013 Altima the first four-cylinder mid-sized Nissan since the 1997 demise of the Bluebird.
It also equips the company with a true competitor to the four-cylinder-only Toyota Camry, which captured a staggering 39.6 per cent share of the mid-sized segment in 2012, and left a sizeable gap to the second-placed Mazda6 with its 11.8 per cent share.
Nissan is hoping this year’s introduction of a Nissan V8 Supercar using the mid-sizer’s nameplate and styling cues will maximise its exposure and sales potential.
“The luxury of being able to launch a new name like that, months before the new vehicle we have the V8 Supercars platform,” the marketing boss said.
“I expect that we’ll be visible, above the line in terms of launch communications, in addition to leveraging … the V8 Supercars [campaign].”
Asked whether the Altima will be marketed differently to the Maxima – which has long been pegged as a large affordable-luxury car – Clissold explained that while discussions were ongoing, the way the car was launched in the US provided a good indication of the Australian marketing message.
“If you look where the US launched that vehicle ... It’s chocked full of technologies, whether it’s the seats, the navigation system, the heads-up display…
“I think we can get some good stories out of that.”
Clissold did, however, deny that a push would be made to correlate the production Altima front-drive V6 sedan with the rear-drive V8 racer (above) of the same name. Nor would the Altima be pegged in the same league as other production Nissan sports cars.
“The V6 is a really powerful vehicle. It’s certainly not going to be marketed as a sports car a la Zed [370Z], but it’ll be a performer … it’s a great chassis, and great power delivery.”
Pushed whether Nissan would introduce the Altima two-door coupe seen in the United States, Clissold was non-commital.
“We’ll see how it goes … we’re focusing on the sedan at this stage.
“It’s part of a sedan renaissance for Nissan, so we’re focusing all our energies on that.
“But never say never”.
Clissold’s boss, Nissan managing director and CEO Bill Peffer, later told CarAdvice that introducing a manual version of the V6 sedan was also on the cards for a local introduction, but wasn't yet a priority.