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Nissan re-think on Note

The right Note: Nissan has revealed the Japanese production version of its Note hatchback, which will get a supercharged three-cylinder engine.

A chance that Nissan’s Jazz rival might be back on the agenda for Australia


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23 Jul 2012

NISSAN Australia might backtrack on another new model decision for Australia, saying the new Nissan Note mini MPV is a chance to join its light car line-up after all.

Just months after former managing director Dan Thompson seemed to rule it out at the Geneva motor show where the five-door Honda Jazz competitor was shown in concept form as the Invitation, the Note has been placed in the “possible” basket under new boss Bill Peffer.

Nissan Australia corporate communications general manager Jeff Fisher told GoAuto today that product planners at the Australian branch of Nissan were inquiring about the model line-up and availability.

“It has not been ruled in, and it has not been ruled out,” he said.

A similar re-think has been applied to the UK-built Juke compact SUV, which is under consideration for a 2013 launch in Australia after earlier seemingly being ruled out by Mr Thompson last year.

The five-seat Note is built on the same Renault-Nissan V platform that underpins the Micra hatch, upcoming Almera sedan and new-generation Renault Clio that is set to make its debut at September’s Paris motor show.

The second-generation Note line-up has just been announced for Japan, where its will go on sale in the third quarter of this year.

Formerly known in that market as the Tone, the Note’s Japanese launch will mark the debut of Nissan’s innovative supercharged and direct-injected three-cylinder petrol engine, alongside a normally-aspirated version already offered in the current Micra hatch and upcoming Almera light sedan.

The blown 1.2-litre engine is said to be good for 72kW and 143Nm of torque, compared with the 56kW and 100Nm of the normally-aspirated three-cylinder.

The front-wheel-drive Note gets idle stop, contributing to fuel economy of about 4.0 litres per 100km on the Japanese combined test cycle, making it one of the most efficient petrol cars on the market.

Both three-cylinder engine variants will be hooked up to a new-generation continuously variable transmission (CVT), unlike the Micra that has a four-speed automatic for Australia.

While the Japanese Note will be built at its Kyushu plant in the south of that country, the European version will be made at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK, where it will debut in 2013.

Like the Almera sedan that will make its Australian debut next month, the Note is said to be more upmarket than the Micra, designed to appeal to European and Japanese tastes.

The intent of the Note in Japan is underlined by the inclusion of Nissan’s around-view monitor – a first in the light car segment. This monitor, which will be available in Australia on the new Pathfinder next year, gives drivers a “top-down” 360-degree view around the car when parking in tight spaces.

If the Note does get the green light for Australia, it would slot in between the Micra and new-generation Pulsar hatch, perhaps providing current Tiida owners an alternative to the bigger and more expensive Pulsar due in 2013.

When the Note concept was shown at the Geneva motor show in March, then managing director of Nissan Australia Dan Thompson told GoAuto that Australia was likely to stick with Micra – now imported from Indonesia – and the upcoming Almera sedan, as they were a better fit for the price-sensitive Australian market.

If Nissan Australia has a change of heart and decides to import Note, it is unclear if it would take the vehicle from the UK or Japan, which will both build right-hand-drive variants.

If the UK is selected, the Note will join the Dualis compact SUV and, possibly, Juke from next year.

Meanwhile, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced a $US160 million ($A154m) investment in its Renault Samsung Motors plant in South Korea to build 80,000 Nissan Rogue SUVs a year from 2014.

The Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover vehicle sold in the United States, but next time around will go on sale in 60 countries, possibly including Australia.

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