Nissan global chief planning officer Andy Palmer suggested to CarAdvice at the 2014 New York auto show that the as-yet-unnamed C-segment model could lead to a strategic rethink of the Aussie arm's small car range.
When asked if he knows whether the new model could potentially take the place of the current Pulsar, Palmer stated: "Yes, I know, but am I going to tell you? No, I can't.
"But we'll not have a car that's sitting in Galapagos. It can't sit by itself. So one way or another, there needs to be a C-segment hatch in Australia. And eventually at some point or other it needs to converge," he said.
That C-segment model is highly likely to be offered with a hot-hatch performance halo model, which is expected to bear the Nismo branding.
Palmer hinted that the 2014 Paris motor show could see the reveal of the regular production model and the hot-hatch, too.
"We're bringing a C-segment hatchback ... in later this year. Why don't you come to Paris and find out?"
Palmer said that while there aren't any Nismo models currently on sale in Australia, he sees the potential for the sub-brand and it's just a matter of time before it rolls out.
"It's a global direction. Do we impose it on a market? To some extent that's a conversation we have to have with the market. To be frank, I don't think that we would entertain being in the V8 Supercars series if I didn't think there was an opportunity to bring Nismo [to Australia] at some moment," he said.
"You know, Nismo is working very closely on the Aussie V8s series, so intrinsically involved, it's learning about the market. I think it's fair to say that at some moment Nismo will come to Australia," he said.
"With Nismo we're fortunate enough to have the asset where you have true racing credibility. And matching the Nismo credibility with the higher end sports cars makes a lot of sense. So wherever we've got a segment where we think it makes sense - like the 370Z, like Juke, like Micra, like GT-R - we've systematically brought out two levels of Nismo: the S, which is basically mostly about ride and handling and not so much about power, it's about extracting more excitement out of [the cars]; then there's RS, which is basically about the addition of more horsepower."
Nissan has not announced the naming for the new European model which will be built in the brand's UK plant, but Palmer went close to ruling out Almera, which is currently brandished upon the existing Euro-focused small hatch and the brand's budget small sedan.
"You know that we're using the Almera name already, so that answers that question," he said.
When asked if the brand would consider reviving the Sunny badge, Palmer was noncommittal.
"I don't know, that sounds like an interesting idea," he said.
If Nissan were to offer a pair of different models in the same segment, it wouldn't be the first brand to do so. Kia currently offers the Cerato Koup, hatch and sedan, while its sportier Pro_c'eed GT three-door fills the performance niche; likewise, Hyundai has the i30 hatch, Elantra sedan and Veloster performing a similar duty.