Mass­ing for the charge

Nis­san hopes its new mod­els will make it No 1 in im­ported ve­hi­cles, writes Bruce McMahon.

The Advertiser - Motoring - - 4WD -

NIS­SAN is out to be Aus­tralia’s No 1 ve­hi­cle im­porter, and its goal is sup­ported by a small army of fresh ma­chin­ery headed this way. The first will be the tid­dler of the bunch – the all-new Mi­cra, ar­riv­ing next month – but there’s a good deal of fire­power to fol­low.

For the past 18 months, Nis­san has been brand-build­ing with the likes of the GT-R, the 370Z twins and new Max­ima, says Nis­san Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Dan Thomp­son. Now comes vol­ume-build­ing.

From De­cem­ber, the new Mi­cra will sell in three grades, with a choice of en­gines and trans­mis­sions. Mr Thomp­son says 18,000 of the five-door hatch­backs could sell each year.

A Mi­cra sedan will fol­low and in 2012 come a new Ti­ida and the big­ger, more lux­u­ri­ous Pa­trol.

The sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion Pa­trol boasts a 5.6-litre V8, seven-speed auto plus 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 even keel when thrown around on the bi­tu­men.

It is a big truck, a lit­tle more than 5m long, al­most 2m tall and wide and weigh­ing 2.7 tonnes. Not ev­ery­one’s in love with the style but it does have a real pres­ence and a load of cabin space.

A quick trot through the scrub shows it to be a very ca­pa­ble, very com­fort­able ma­chine. It has moved far from the util­i­tar­ian style of the cur­rent Pa­trol and into Range Rover league. And 550Nm of torque is closer for the smaller Pathfinder wagon and the du­al­cab Navara with a three-litre, 170kW V6 diesel op­tion for both 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, which ar­rives in Jan­uary. Ex­tras over the four­cylin­der ST-X in­clude roof bars, hard and lock­able ton­neau cover, un­der-seat stor­age and the most power in its class.

The Pathfinder has the same en­gine op­tion, tak­ing the price to $75,990 and tow­ing ca­pac­ity to 3500kg.

Down the line, the X-Trail has had some mi­nor up­grades, such as tele­scopic steer­ing col­umn and rear knee im­prove­ment. Prices have dropped across most of the range, now start­ing at $31,990, and con­sump­tion is down for both diesel and petrol en­gines. From Jan­uary, the X-Trail will also be of­fered as a two-wheel-drive, with petrol en­gine only and in ST and ST-L grades.

Be­low the X-Trail sit the two-wheeld r i v e a n d a l l - whe e l - d r i v e Dual i s wag­ons, since July also avail­able as the seven-seater Dualis +2.

FIRE­POWER: Nis­san’s 2012 Pa­trol and, inset, the Navara 550 and, be­low, the Nis­san GT-R.

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