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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Nismo Navara? Nissan still keen on a Ford Ranger Raptor rival

Performance Navara has been on the drawing board since 2018, but now looks set to only happen with the next generation should approval be given.

Nissan’s long rumoured Navara rival for the Ford Ranger Raptor has re-entered the spotlight, but seemingly only in next generation guise due out in 2024 or 2025.

On the drawing board

Back in 2018, the automaker’s Managing Director for Australia, Stephen Lester, said pressure was being put on Yokohama to approve a hardcore Navara at a time when it was losing sales against the segment-leading Toyota Hilux, the now discontinued Ford Ranger T6, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton.

Just over a year later, Lester, when asked by carsguide.com.au about whether any progress had been made, said, “I can only hope that [the] LCV team heeds some of that pressure from our group – we’re not the only ones around the world that would like to see it. We’re always keeping the pressure on”.

ALSO READ: Nissan Australia boss not giving up on a Ranger Raptor rivalling Navara

He also let slip that a more powerful engine was going to be needed to address the shortcomings of the then turbodiesel only Ranger Raptor, hinting that consultations with Nissan’s Nismo divisions could well happen should approval be given.

Prior to this, reports of the Navara using the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 from the now discontinued Mercedes-Benz X-Class had started emerging, only for the three-pointed star’s Product Manager for Australasia, Scott Williams, to bluntly tell goauto.com, “they will not ever get the V6”.

Nismo factor

According to the latest report by drive.com.au, the link-up with Nismo has again emerged for the next generation Navara that will ride on the same platform as the new Mitsubishi Triton.

“We could look at it. Probably not in the way of an off-road crawling kind of truck, but something more speed-oriented like a Baja [racer] or something.

Nissan still keen on a Raptor rivalling Navara
Ranger Raptor remains the only performance bakkie on-sale in class despite ongoing threats from rival marques. Image: Ford

“[This is] something that has been in my brain and my heart for quite a long time,” Nissan’s Head of Product and Product Strategy, Ivan Espinosa, said when asked by the publication on the side-lines of the Tokyo Mobility Show in Japan.

Despite refusing to comment on whether a Nismo Navara had already entered the development phase, Espinosa didn’t rule the possibility out either, saying, “whether we will do it or not, I cannot tell you”.

“But if we ever do it, we will probably explore this Baja kind of area. Because it is something that is a bit unique and where Nismo capability can contribute and stand out”.

Pro-4X Warrior “plus”

He also admitted that besides Australia, where the Premcar-developed Navara Pro-4X Warrior currently serves as the indirect rival for the Raptor, more markets will have to get involved with the idea of a hardcore Navara to justify the project’s likely investment.

Not only does this include the United States where the Navara’s twin, the Frontier is sold, but also South Africa that produces models for the local and export markets at its Rosslyn Plant outside Pretoria.

“It’s all about how we can find scale and find the volume base where something like this will make sense. The obvious other big market of trucks is the US,” Espinosa continued.

South Africa holding on to Warrior

Although well-known by now that the Pro-4X Warrior is under consideration for South Africa, the apparent Nismo-fettled Navara remains clouded in mystery and is likely to remain that way until an announcement emerges in the run-up or after the next Navara’s unveiling within the next 12 to 18 months.

NOW READ: Nissan Navara Pro-4X Warrior a big step closer to South Africa

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