And the right engine and technology options are on the table
Nissan Australia wants the Terra, and it wants it badly. Launched with a diesel engine and seven seats for the wider south-east Asian market this week, the new off-roader would go head-to-head with the Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X if it landed on our shores, while also fitting nicely as a spiritual successor to the first- and second-generation Pathfinder.
"Absolutely, no question about it," he said, when asked whether he wants to see the Terra in Australia.
"We're quite confident with the product and the segment that it occupies, that this would certainly be in demand from Australian consumers."
Asked when, Lester simply said his "goal would be as soon as possible", but admitted there's no specific timeline available at this point.
As for what would need to change in the transition from south east Asian trim to the Australian market? There are a few things, but none are beyond the realm of possibility.
For one, the 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine in the Philippines-market vehicle launched this week would need to be swapped for a Euro V-compliant unit, and there's no autonomous emergency braking available at this point.
During our interviews, both Lester and Ashwani Gupta, Nissan's global head of commercial vehicles, were at pains to highlight the fact essentially any engine or technology could be slotted into the package, provided market demand is strong enough.
"It's based on the Navara platform and we have a current Navara in market, so the plan would obviously be that we would be able to use the currently-homologated engine from NP Navara in Terra, to be able to bring it into the country," Lester said, suggesting the only thing standing between a suitably-equipped car and Australian dealerships is the business case.
Asked about active safety – AEB, namely – Gupta pointed to the Mercedes-Benz X-Class as proof Nissan is capable of fulfilling that requirement.
"We make Alaskan and we make X-Class," he said.
"We have this technology everywhere, so it's not that we can't do it. The point is, when?"
In other words – we're capable of pulling the trigger, once the dollars-and-cents stack up.
Lester certainly seems confident the car would sell, arguing "all of the SUV segments really are growing at a reasonable pace, and I think that there's consumers looking for a versatile and tough SUV" in Australia.
Stay tuned for our first-drive of the Terra, live this Friday.