Nissan just might create their own sporty mid-size pickup to compete with the upcoming Ford Raptor Ranger.
Ranger Raptor? Rap-Rang-or? Whatever you call it.
Ford recently announced the return of the storied Ranger badge (at least in North America) for the 2019 model year, reviving the reasonably-sized pickup after a seven-year absence. Then earlier this month, Ford revealed the Raptor version of the 2019 Ranger, but only for the Pacific market (ie. Southeast Asia and Australia).
The Raptor’s all-new twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel inline-four engine has a lot of heads turning and tongues wagging, to the point where Nissan Australia is taking note. They’re considering making their own “sporty” version of the Nissan Navara, the Australian version of the mid-size Frontier pickup.
A group of Nissan Australia designers, led by MD Stephen Lester, are petitioning Renault-Nissan global light commercial vehicle head Ashwani Gupta an answer to the Raptor.
“If you would had asked me this question yesterday [about a Raptor rival] I would have said this is not in our priority list,” Gupta told Australian car site Motoring. “But if you are asking this question today then I am saying this is an opportunity we would like to study...I think the transformation which we are seeing in the one-tonne pick-up market is driven by Australian voice,” he added.
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Australians, much like Americans, are fans of the pickup. But where Americans are all about the “bigger is better” maxim, Australians prefer a pickup with some sense of economy, as well as the ability to park it in a single space at the grocery store.
The Navara is a popular choice in Australia but faces stiff competition from the Ranger as well as Chevy Colorado. Both will feature up-tuned versions in the Raptor and ZR2 respectively, while Nissan doesn’t have an equivalent model.
However, Nissan has a secret weapon: Mercedes. The 2019 version of the Frontier will be built in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz who will sell it under the X-Class badge and a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. It wouldn’t be hard for Nissan to negotiate a version of the Navara with that same engine for their Pacific customers.
“If we need to upgrade tough and smart Navara to the sports grade we can do it very easily,” Gupta said.