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Nissan Tiida CST-R on to-do list

Even though the mean-looking CST-R did the rounds of the Sydney and Melbourne motor shows to gauge public reaction it was overshadowed by two other stars, the GT-R and new 370Z.

However, Nissan Australia's brand manager, Darren Holland, says he would like to have a hotter-looking Tiida in showrooms soon.

Although he is reluctant to put a date on it, he sees the CST-R as the perfect vehicle to help rev up interest in the Tiida, now in its fourth year of local sales.

A small run of possibly 250 CST-Rs could lift the model until the next-generation Tiida arrives around 2012, he says.

"It's certainly something we're looking at," he says.

"It's on the to-do list.

"We could do a couple of hundred and I think the dealers would be happy with that."

Holland says some dealers are already taking matters into their own hands, doing their own tricked-up Tiidas with 17-inch wheels and bodykits.

Despite the urge to resurrect the SSS name for a hotter Nissan, Holland reckons the special Tiidas would not warrant the SSS tag, a performance 2.0-litre model made popular by Nissan in the 1990s.

"The SSS is a completely different style of car," he says. "We wouldn't call it the SSS."

Holland also has his eye on the new Maxima, which goes on sale next month.

He thinks a tricked-up Maxima will lift its image.

"I think this new car is definitely a candidate," he says. "Probably more so than the previous-generation Maxima."

However, Holland is not rushing into either the CST-R or a body-kitted Maxima.

He wants to bed down the new Murano, GT-R, just-launched 370Z and launch the front-wheel drive Dualis later this year before looking at other potential candidates.

The CST-R concept was built by Nissan's aftersales department to get some customer feedback.

It grabs an array of bits and pieces from Nissan Japan's Impul accessories line.

Impul versions of the Tiida, Note, Cube and Micra are popular in Japan.

The CST-R received a lowered suspension, 17-inch wheels with black alloys, chrome exhaust, leather interior and Bluetooth compatibility.

In Japan Impul can also chip engines for more power or fit a supercharger, however this is unlikely for Australia, Holland says.

The Tiida name replaced the well-known Pulsar name when it was launched in 2006 but the small car has never sold in the numbers, nor experienced the Pulsar's popularity.

Nissan moved production to Thailand and cut the entry price from $19,990 to $17,990, which has helped push sales.

This year Nissan has sold 2974 Tiida sedans and hatches, down almost 11 per cent compared to last year.

In its first full year on sale in 2006 11,014 were sold, compared to 17,643 Pulsars in 2005.