Nis­san Mi­cra small ‘cham­pion’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Nis­san is con­sid­er­ing a case for bring­ing the Euro­pean­sourced new-gen­er­a­tion Mi­cra light car to Aus­tralia as a re­place­ment for its re­cently dis­con­tin­ued Pul­sar small hatch, as the com­pany shores up its fu­ture pas­sen­ger­car strat­egy.

The Ja­panese car-maker is cur­rently with­out an en­trant in the mi­cro, light or small hatch seg­ments in Aus­tralia, fol­low­ing its de­ci­sion to drop the In­dian-built Mi­cra and the Thai-built Pul­sar hatch­backs last year due to a lack of com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Nis­san’s sole of­fer­ings in the pas­sen­ger-car seg­ment – be­sides the GT-R and 370Z sportscars – are the age­ing Pul­sar small sedan and the Al­tima mid-sizer.

The com­pany is heav­ily re­liant on its SUV line-up in Aus­tralia, which in­cludes the Juke, Qashqai, X-trail, Pathfinder and Pa­trol. It is cur­rently the third-best-sell­ing SUV range be­hind Toy­ota and Mazda.

De­spite the fact Nis­san is work­ing on a new-gen­er­a­tion global small sedan, Nis­san Aus­tralia man­ag­ing direc­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Emery has left the door open for a dif­fer­ent model, or smaller mod­els such as the Mi­cra, to fill the gap left by the Pul­sar hatch.

“In terms of whether there is a di­rect re­place­ment of that car or whether we take some­thing like the Mi­cra and per­haps other prod­ucts that will cer­tainly suit cus­tomers who would have pre­vi­ously looked at a Pul­sar hatch, I wouldn’t take it for granted that we would di­rectly re­place Pul­sar hatch in the fu­ture,” he said.

The fifth-gen­er­a­tion Mi­cra – re­vealed at the Paris mo­tor show in Septem­ber – has been repo­si­tioned and is now larger, more ma­ture and fea­tures more safety and con­nec­tiv­ity tech­nol­ogy than the pre­vi­ous model.

It is built at the Re­nault-nis­san Al­liance plant at Flins-sur-seine in France and shares pow­er­trains and un­der­pin­nings with the Re­nault Clio and Cap­tur.

Mr Emery said a new global com­pact cross­over for ma­ture mar­kets such as Aus­tralia could po­ten­tially fill the gap left by the Pul­sar hatch, par­tic­u­larly as Aus­tralian buy­ers mi­grated from pas­sen­ger cars to SUVS.

Nis­san al­ready sells the Kicks in emerg­ing mar­kets such as Brazil, but it is un­likely to be of­fered as a global prod­uct.

Mr Emery said the new Mi­cra was not a short-term prospect for Aus­tralia given its cur­rent lack of spec­i­fi­ca­tion suit­abil­ity, hav­ing been launched in Europe with only a man­ual gear­box, and other fac­tors such as pric­ing and sup­ply.

“We would like to be in that seg­ment, for sure,” he said.

“That car in its cur­rent form doesn’t have all of the el­e­ments that we need, to be hon­est – and those el­e­ments are as broad as spec­i­fi­ca­tion, pric­ing base and avail­abil­ity.

“That car is cer­tainly on our watch list and con­sid­er­a­tion set.

“At this point in time, there is a fair bit of wa­ter that has to go un­der the bridge be­fore we make that live for Aus­tralia. I think it is go­ing well in Europe.”

Mr Emery said there was no short­age of op­tions for the com­pany in terms of fu­ture small pas­sen­ger cars.

“There is a gen­er­a­tional shift in our prod­uct plan from late 2018-19 on­wards, and our op­por­tu­nity for our prod­uct of­fer­ing in Aus­tralia ex­pands quite a bit,” he said.

“There are prob­a­bly too many for us to choose from.

“Ob­vi­ously, we have got to home in on what is go­ing to work best for us. So there is a lot of pre-work be­ing done at the mo­ment about what might suit Aus­tralia. And, might I add, what won’t.”

WATCH AND WAIT: Nis­san is keen to in­tro­duce the new­gen­er­a­tion Mi­cra to Aus­tralia, but is cur­rently ham­pered by lack of spec­i­fi­ca­tion suit­abil­ity and other fac­tors such as pric­ing and sup­ply.

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