► Nissan's future plans for Nismo
► We interview Darren Cox
► Bodykits, motorsport and road Nismos
Nissan will continue to roll out sporting Nismo models as it focuses on giving its brand an innovative, more dynamic makeover.
The head of Nismo globally, Brit Darren Cox, spelled out his vision to CAR in a visit to our Peterborough HQ. He believes that Nissan’s sporting badge is a powerful brand tool, especially with its mix of roadgoing and race cars - and its digital appeal to the gaming generation.
‘Most people know Nismo through gaming and our Nismo GT Academy,’ he said. ‘When we wanted to make our road cars more exciting, taking Nismo global seemed a natural way to do it.
‘Nismo is an authentic brand that’s been involved in motorsport and road cars for a long time in Japan, so when we wanted to respond to the rise in more bespoke cars created by rivals such as the Mini and the DS sub-brand, Nismo was an ideal way for us to do this.’
Nissan’s plan to launch more Nismo models
Today Nissan offers three Nismo models in Europe: the Juke Nismo, GTR Nismo and 370Z Nismo - and Cox confirmed that more will follow. ‘But we won’t just stick a load of stickers on a Micra and bring that over,’ he promised. Cue sighs of relief from enthusiasts everywhere.
This means that other Nismo models sold in Japan - including the March [Micra here] and Note Nismos - will not be brought over any time soon.
‘We have brought our first three models to Europe pretty quickly in just 18 months,’ he said. ‘We are not about to rush headlong into extra models unless they feel right for our market.’ Equally, he refused to comment on whether the Pulsar Nismo concept would reach production.
Knowing how extreme Japanese customisers can be, would Nissan countenance an even more extreme GTR supercar-slayer? ‘I don’t think we need to get more radical than the GTR Nismo of today,’ Cox admitted.
The big picture
Nismo is likely to sell more than 30,000 cars in 2015 globally, making it small fry on the world performance-car stage. But combined with the company’s motorsport activities - and especially the radical front-wheel drive GTR LMP1 car due to compete at Le Mans in 2015 - its noise over-extends its reach.
‘Credibility is the watchword,’ said Cox, admitting that Nismo’s sales impact is minuscule compared with the 6 million cars Nissan builds each year.
And he revealed that more Nismo bodykits were being developed, letting customers of cooking Jukes and other models to get the motorsport look without splashing out on a full-blown sports model.
‘It’s not a priority, but I think we will offer bodykit packages from our dealers in future,’ he told CAR.