Speaking at a development drive of the updated Nissan Navara – which gets heavily revised steering and suspension to make it more suitable for towing and carrying heavy loads – Nissan Australia executives expressed their desire for a more powerful ute.
The most obvious choice is a bigger V6 diesel engine.
“We have a very strong request to be able to have such a powertrain in our model,” John Kil, Nissan Australia manager of light commercial vehicles, passenger cars, sports cars and Nismo.
However, there is nothing in the short term for Nissan.
“At this point there is not an engine we could easily [get].”
An obvious option would be the V6 diesel in the upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class; the X-Class is based on the Navara’s architecture and will be produced in a Nissan factory in Spain, so it’s technically an easy fit.
As well as a Mercedes-Benz-produced V6 diesel engine – something that will give the X-Class more grunt than any of its rivals – more affordable versions of the X-Class will use the same four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine used in the Navara.
As part of the “strategic partnership” between Daimler and Nissan (which is also involved in an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi), the company would have access to the V6 engine.
However, it’s likely to be an expensive engine considering it is also used in various Mercedes-Benz luxury cars.
Ironically, Nissan was one of the leaders in the mild performance ute segment.
The previous generation Navara was sold with a V6 diesel between 2012 and 2015. Its big sales pitch was that it produced 550Nm of torque – identical to that produced by the X-Class 350d V6, due in the second half of 2018.
The market – and demand – for diesel V6s in dual-cab utes is growing.
More recently, Volkswagen has offered a V6 version of the Amarok, something that now accounts for about 70 percent of Amarok sales.
It’s indicative of a market that’s evolving to cater for demand for more comfortable, better driving and more generously equipped off-road utes.
Others taking advantage of demand for well-equipped workhorse utes include Ford and Holden.
During 2018 Ford will begin selling the Ranger Raptor, which gets tougher suspension for better off-road performance. The Raptor also gets a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel matched to a new 10-speed automatic, more ratios than any other ute.
Also in 2018 Holden will begin selling the HSV Colorado SportsCat, which gets tyre and suspension modifications but uses the same 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.