Former Mercedes-Benz Australia general manager of sales, and now Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery (below) openly admits that the brand is too “vanilla” in this country.
He even provided – as a good sign of his humour – vanilla slices for journalists attending the Nissan Qashqai launch this week.
“That is something I’ve started to do some homework on, is Nismo,” tells Emery, who was a big part of Mercedes-Benz AMG growth locally, and before that Mitsubishi Ralliart.
“It is a brand that’s well known, there is a generation of younger people who come from that GT-R Playstation Nismo environment, so it’s not invisible, it has some credence in the marketplace. I’m very keen to explore what we can do with Nismo.
"There’s three models I think available – a GT-R Nismo, Zed Nismo and I think Juke Nismo.
“There’s talk of some other models, so we’ll certainly explore what opportunities we have from Nismo in Australia, because I think that can add some of the colour I think the brand lacks.”
The Nissan 370Z Nismo produces 261kW of power and 374Nm of torque from its tuned V6 – up 13kW/8Nm on the regular US-spec model – and gets special suspension and lightweight modifications to match a racier exterior styling package.
The Nissan GT-R Nismo makes 447kW and 652Nm, up 41kW/24Nm on the standard car. The Nismo costs $50K over the standard GT-R in the US, and with enhanced aerodynamics, carbonfibre front lip spoiler ducts, body reinforcements and altered suspension.
The Nissan Juke Nismo directs a hot-hatch-rivalling 160kW and 280Nm to the front wheels with a six-speed manual, or all wheels with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Emery also confessed that brand image should have played a greater part in Nissan’s priorities in the past, with Nismo’s cars ideal candidates.
“Nismo has a role to play to reinforce that [motorsport] and looking back a couple or three years, we should have looked at whether we could do Nismo at the same time,” he added.
The Nissan IDx concept, of which the brand has committed turning into an environmentally-focused model or a sports model to rival Toyota 86, or both, is a car Emery also wants to get his hands on.
“IDx, I could see the merit in that car,” he begins.
“I come from the age group where Nissan were rallying Datty 1600s and so on, so there’s still a warm patch in the heart for that sort of Nissan product. So I could see where IDx could get some traction.
“Certainly if they’re going to go down with production, I’ll be trying to get to the front of the queue on that sort of product, and we’ll make sure that our hand’s up there so when they get further down the track right hand drive and all the things we need are considered in the lineup.
“Where they think it’s going fit, I don’t know whether it’s in that 86 sort of area, clearly it’s below Zed and we certainly would be interested in it for sure.”