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Nissan wants Navara NISMO V8 to lure Commodore and Falcon ute owners: New dual-cab would offer on-road performance over off-road capability

Nissan wants a punchier Navara.

Nissan Australia is lobbying Japan for a more powerful Navara that switches the focus from off-road ability to on-road performance that would lure former customers of the Commodore and Falcon utes.

That's the word from Nissan Australia boss Stephen Lester, who tells CarsGuide he's doing "all the things we need to do" to campaign for a bigger engine in the Navara.

The brand has hit significant success with the Nissan Navara Warrior, with the locally-developed Navara nameplate aimed at people looking for more capability from their ute. But that still leaves a hole in the portfolio for a more powerful Navara, and one that focuses on on-road punch rather than traditional ute capability.

"The reality is that it’s never going to move as fast as you’d want it or like it to, but we’re doing all the things we need to do to get behind a change or opportunity with the power plant,” says Nissan Australia boss Stephen Lester

“But let’s be realistic on Navara. The reality is that it has a great engine as it right now, and we’re pretty darn happy with Warrior and what we’ve been able to do with it, so we’ll wait until we get more news.”

A road-focused Navara would be a return to the Commodore and Falcon-based utes of yore, many of which were lowered and fitted with the kind of gleaming alloys that meant even light off-roading was out of the question.

And it's those customers that Nissan has in mind with a road-focused Navara, telling CarsGuide that market wasn't being catered to at present.

"Look at that ute segment. You’ve got two diverse owner groups there. You’ve got the hardcore off-off-road enthusiasts, which we think Warrior speaks really well to. And they’re really going to seek that fit for purpose piece, they’re really a user of the off-road equipment," Mr Lester says.

"The other consumer, though, says I’m just not interested in all-that off-roading, but I want a look. Probably not unlike going back to Falcon and Commodore (utes), and you see how people did those up. They invested, and there was a real and significant market there.

"For us, if you look at NISMO, it would be a more an aficionado vehicle, and if that’s more fit for on-road performance, then sure. Trucks are never going to race cars, but with the legacy of NISMO, it would certainly add to the cache for the Navara.

"In the context of a NISMO, it would be that capable. No OEM is playing that space sufficiently. If NISMO were to do it, there’s no question that they wouldn’t do it with a sticker kit, they would go all-in."

Which leads us to big question of what all-in might look like for the Navara. Currently, the most powerful engine offered in the Navara line-up is a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel four cylinder that produces 140kW and 450Nm.

But to lure customers of, say, the Holden Redline SSV VF Ute, for example, you'll need to double the cylinder count. Happily, there's also a big V8 found in the Nissan Patrol - a 5.6-litre unit good for 298kW and 560Nm - that we'd like to think could star in a Navara.

Whether a new ute is badged NISMO or not remains to be seen, but the brand is pushing for more power either way.

"From our standpoint, whether it's NISMO or just an alternative more powerful powerplant, then that’s what we’re focused on," Mr Lester says.

"If Nismo do it, then great, because the work they do is amazing. And if they don’t, but they give us an alternative powerplant, then that’s great, too.

"We’re going to have to fly back up to Yokohama and talk to some people there to influence that."

Now, the bad news. A new engine is not planned for the soon-to-launch facelifted Navara, which could arrive in Australia as early as this year. It is understood that vehicle will use the ute's carry-over engine.