The likelihood of an SUV spin-off of the new Nissan Navara ute appears to have stepped up a notch.
Earlier this year at the New York auto show, Nissan chief Andy Palmer hinted at the possibility of a rugged off-road SUV, likely with seven seats, to take on the likes of the Isuzu MU-X, Holden Colorado 7, Mitsubishi Challenger and upcoming Ford Everest.
“Would be logical, wouldn’t it? That’s rhetorical, by the way,” Palmer said of a potential seven-seat off-roader that would be tougher and burlier than the current Pathfinder.
“I think undoubtedly a pickup like a one-tonne pickup starts with its ability to work,” Palmer said.
At the recent launch of the all-new Navara pick-up, the company’s corporate vice president of product planning, Keno Kato, stated the importance of developing the product line-up with depth, indicating that diversification beyond the range of three cabin types and two body styles was possible.
When asked specifically about Palmer’s suggestion that an SUV based on the Navara’s rugged underpinnings was possible, Kato was coy.
“Did Andy say like that? If my boss said like that in public, I will follow,” he said.
Nissan Navara chief engineer Takeshi Fukui went further, stating the vehicle was “in the works”, with some media stating that Fukui went as far as saying the model would be built in 2015.
The new Navara does have a high-tech basis for such a model, with a new multilink rear suspension that would offer any such spin-off more car-like driving manners than the old Pathfinder.
Similarly, the upcoming Ford Ranger-based Everest seven-seater will be offered with a similar coil-spring rear-end that is designed to offer a more car-like drive experience.
The aforementioned three other ute-based off-road-focused SUVs available at this point in time are all built upon leaf-spring suspension.