Nissan Australia is finally ready to roll out its performance-honed Nismo sub-brand locally, after a few years of talk but not much in the way of publicly visible action.
As we reported yesterday, first off the mark will be the Nissan GT-R Nismo supercar, a $299,000 monster with GT3 racing turbos, carbon-fibre construction elements and a 0-100km/h sprint time of around 2.5 seconds.
But the whole point of the Nismo brand is to offer product for a broad swathe of buyers, with the intention of adding some "emotional connection" to Nissan’s rather workmanlike product range.
Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery reaffirmed yesterday that the company wouldn’t just launch Nismo here off the back of a singular model, and would broaden the palette within 12 months of the Nismo GT-R’s launch in February next year.
This means that we’ll see the second Nismo car arrive potentially before the end of 2017, with up to one model per year following on from this.
We expect this second product to be the Nismo 370Z, with its up-tuned 261kW V6, six-speed manual or seven-speed auto with rev-matching, Nismo suspension, Rays alloy wheels, body kit, bigger brakes, Nismo exhaust, Alcantara Recaro seats and steering wheel, and more.
Such a vehicle would be a fitting way to wind-up the ageing Z-Car, which remains Nissan’s only other viable performance offering locally, and which is still hotly tipped to become a crossover model in its next generation.
“We have to start somewhere. GT-R is the right car to start with. I would have an expectation that we’ll be adding another car to that within 12 months… obviously more volume and exposure to the brand from that, more of a mainstream product,” Emery said.
Sources tell us to expect the 370Z Nismo to be this first car.
Beyond this, we’ll see a number of other products roll out, though Emery played coy on what they’d be. The Juke Nismo? Euro-market Pulsar (or the global Megane-based C-segment offering expected to lob here inside a few years)? Qashqai? Even a Navara derivative? Some other as-yet unlaunched model? Probably not the Patrol version...
We know precious little, though the chief did elaborate a little.
“We wanted to ensure we had a Nismo product plan that didn’t just deliver one. Our aspirations are for GT-R to be joined by additional models over the coming years,” Emery said.
“We’re not in a position to confirm what that vehicle will be and its timing, but rest assured we’re not just doing this off the back of one model.
“Certainly our starting point is that the products that have the Nismo branding are genuine Nismo products. Nismo can’t only be around spoilers, alloys and a stripe. It needs to be bedded in real performance offerings.”
Explaining the long gap between first talking about Nismo for Australia — one of the world’s leading performance car markets on a per capita basis — and bringing it to fruition, Emery touched on some of the internal machinations.
“There’s always been the motivation to launch Nismo,” he said. “I would have liked it to have happened faster, [but], having said that, Nismo on a global scale has been doing its homework, creating the scale for that in terms of production caps, R and D, to make sure they can broaden the product availability.
“We didn’t want to launch and then have a false start, a long gap between expanding the product offering.”
Naturally, Nismo views Australia as an important market, given our GT-R racing heritage at Bathurst and beyond, our strong Z enthusiast base and the relatively massive sales of Renault Sport from Nissan’s French Alliance partner here.
Additionally, as an ex-Mercedes product executive, Emery is only too keenly aware of AMG’s importance at a higher positioning, though he insisted Nismo wouldn’t be about volume in its early days.
“Our aspirations around Nismo in the first phase is about the brand and the marketing more so than a direct volume target… it’s really about establishing that Nismo is a real performance offering, not spoilers and alloys, we want to establish its credentials first,” he said.
Expect Nismo to be sold through Nissan’s 12 national GT-R dealers first, before expanding in scope once more mainstream products hit the road. Hopefully we get some more clarity soon.
Tell us in the comments — does Nissan still have any performance cred, GT-R notwithstanding? Does Nismo have the name to pique your interest? What Nismo derivative would you like to see next?