Luxury Patrol leads an army of new models Big gun fires
Nissan hopes to boost its market share with a new-look line-up, writes Bruce McMahon
NISSAN is out to be Australia’s No.1 vehicle importer, a goal backed by a small army of fresh machinery headed this way. And while the first will be the tiddler of the bunch— the all-new Micra arriving next month — there’s a good deal of firepower on the way and some bragging rights to be bandied around. For the past 18 months, says Nissan Australia managing director Dan Thompson, his company has been brand-building with the GT-R, the 370Z twins and the new Maxima. Now comes the building of volume. From next month the new Micra will sell in three grades, with a choice of engines and transmissions. Thompson says this five-door hatchback could be worth 18,000 cars a year. A sedan version Micra will follow and in 2012 a new Tiida (with perhaps the Pulsar badge reinstated) will arrive as well as the bigger, more luxurious Patrol. This wagon is to be a true flagship model for sailing across country. The seventh-generation Patrol has a 5.6 litre
V8, seven-speed auto and a ‘‘ world-first’’ Hydraulic Body Motion System, said to be taken from rally cars.
This eliminates stabiliser bars (allowing for greater wheel articulation in the rough stuff) and keeps the big wagon on an amazingly even keel when thrown around on the bitumen.
There are a host of other driver aids, including Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, allied to traction, stability controls and more.
Then there’s a four-wheel drive mode button (not unlike that on Land Rovers) that changes engine mapping and such for a variety of terrain.
It is a big, big truck, at more than 5m long and almost 2m tall and wide.
Not everyone’s in love with the style but it does have a real presence and a tonne of cabin space.
A quick trot through the scrub in a left-hand drive version shows it to be a very capable, comfortable machine. It has moved a fair way from the utilitarian style of the current Patrol and into Range Rover league.
A quick on-road run highlights excellent road manners for a high-riding 2.7 tonne machine.
There is a deal of promise here, backed by 298kW and 550Nm of torque.
And 550Nm of torque is closer for the smaller Pathfinder wagon and Nissan’s dual cab Navara with a 3 litre, 170kW V6 diesel option for both from early next year.
Maximum torque (up 100Nm over the ST-X’s four-cylinder diesel) arrives from a pretty low 1750rpm then works through a seven-speed auto for some pretty smart acceleration at all types of speed. It makes for a very flexible, most driveable ute. The price will jump to $60,990 — the dearest of all dual cabs — for the Spanish-built ST-X 550, here in January.
Extras over the four-cylinder ST-X include roof bars, hard and lockable tonneau cover and under-seat storage, as well as the most power in its class.
The Pathfinder scores the same engine option, taking the price tag to $75,990 and towing capacity to 3500kg. This version, according to Nissan, fills a gap between the medium and large four-wheel drive wagons.
The Pathfinder Ti 550 scores upgraded brakes, auto headlights and windscreen wipers among other new gear for 2011.
Further down the line Nissan’s X-Trail has had some minor upgrades (mainly, a telescopic steering column and rear knee improvement).
Prices have dropped across most of the range, now starting from $31,990, and fuel consumption is down for diesel and petrol engines.
And from January the X-Trail will also be offered as a two-wheel drive version, petrol engine only and in ST and ST-L grades.
Nissan believe one in three vehicles sold in this compact SUV class will be two-wheel drive by 2012.
Below the X-Trail sits the two and all-wheel drive Dualis wagons, which from July will also be available as the seven-seater Dualis +2.
All these four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and two-wheel drive wagons and utes underpin Nissan Australia’s drive to make it to the top of the importers’ list and claim some 10 per cent of the market in the next few years.
Brand leader: the seventh-generation Patrol, at more than5mlong, has a 5.6 litre V8 engine and a ‘‘world-first’’ Hydraulic Body Motion System, said to be taken from rally cars.
New models: (above) the Navara 550 and (left) the GT-R update.