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Diesel hope for next Nissan Pathfinder

Pathie logical: Introducing a diesel engine to the all-new Nissan Pathfinder makes sense as the fuel is becoming increasingly popular among large SUV buyers.

Nissan may use Renault, Daimler links to find diesel engine for new Pathfinder SUV

31 Jan 2013

THERE is hope that Nissan may eventually offer a diesel engine on its all-new US-built Pathfinder SUV, which will launch in Australia with petrol V6 power later this year.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Bill Peffer declined to confirm whether or not a diesel Pathfinder was in the works and said no decision had been made, but dropped a hint by referring to Nissan’s access to European engine technology.

“We have a suite of powertrain sourcing options from around the world based on our alliance with Renault and our technology sharing agreement with Daimler,” he told GoAuto.

“We want to further leverage our brand halo of being an SUV 4x4 provider in Australia and it makes sense in some segments to bring in diesel powertrains.”

Nissan Australia will introduce a diesel version of its smallest SUV, the Dualis, and has long offered diesel X-Trails and Pathfinders but as it stands, the new Pathfinder is almost certain to launch here with only petrol power.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Bill Peffer.

In front-drive variants, the new Pathfinder’s 194kW/325Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 and automatic continuously variable transmission yield consumption of 10.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the United States EPA combined cycle, or 11.2L/100km on all-wheel-drive versions.

For comparison, outgoing Pathfinders with automatic transmissions consume 9.3L/100km with the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel or 9.0L/100km with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, while the discontinued 4.0-litre petrol used 13.5L/100km.

The Australian large SUV segment – worth almost 103,000 sales last year – has experienced a large uptake of diesel compared with small and medium SUVs, and Ford Australia invested millions in engineering the diesel Territory for this reason.

That said, the lack of a diesel option has apparently not harmed sales of the Toyota Kluger, which were up 13.2 per cent last year to 13,239 units, earning third place in the large SUV sales charts behind the Prado and Territory.

The current Pathfinder is based on the Navara one-tonne ute, providing rugged off-road ability at the expense of road manners, refinement and interior packaging.

Last year was the Pathfinder’s third best for sales here, the 2695 leaving showrooms securing a 2.6 per cent market share.

Sales peaked at 4148 units in 2006, which was the current generation’s first full year on sale, but they dropped off to 2740 units in 2007 and sank as low as 1620 units during the GFC.

Mr Peffer said he believed the new Pathfinder, built around a car-like monocoque platform far removed from the go-anywhere outgoing model, is “squarely competitive with the likes of Kluger and Territory”.

“If we were to get just five, six or seven per cent of that (large SUV) segment we would double or triple our line,” he said.

“I think we have enough variability in the product plan (although) we haven't confirmed what we are coming to market with other than we are coming to market with a Pathfinder I think that is the right product for us to grow in that segment.”

Meanwhile, further down the size scale, Mr Peffer admitted the manual-only diesel Dualis – which sips just 4.5L/100km and is set to arrive in Australian showrooms mid-year – is expected to sell in small volumes.

“But we see opportunity there hence why you will see a diesel variant,” he said.

“We saw additional volume by bringing another derivative, (which) is not the case with all our products but (Dualis) is a single powertrain, two transmissions, two body styles so it lent itself to (range expansion).”

Dualis sales leapt 42.6 per cent from 9214 units in 2011 to 13,141 units last year, making it the best seller in the VFACTS small SUV category with a 23 per cent market share and toppling the Hyundai ix35, of which 11,469 were sold for a 20 per cent share.

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