Nissan Aims to Expand the Nismo Brand: Trucks & SUVs in the Works
The sun may rise once again
Witnessing the rise of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing (GR) and historic success of TRD, it seems Nissan has been feeling a bit left out of the party. For those uninitiated with Japanese sports cars, Nismo, short for Nissan Motorsports, is Nissan’s in-house performance and racing division. Although a few Nissans in the US have received the Nismo treatment over the years, namely the GT-R and Z, the rest of their current lineup has yet to capitalize on the TRD-style formula that Toyota has celebrated for decades. With the explosion in popularity of SUVs, crossovers, and trucks in the US, Nissan has decided the time may be now to bring their legendary sub-brand to more of their larger vehicles.
A global focus
Nismo CEO Takao Katagiri told Automotive News that the brand’s focus would be shifting to markets outside of Japan, where the Nismo brand has traditionally flourished. He went on to state that the crossover and truck segments would possibly see Nismo variants, opening the door for upgraded versions of the Frontier, Titan, Kicks, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada.
We think the most likely model to get Nismo’d out will be the new Armada, as Nissan has already released a Nismo Patrol, the Middle Eastern version of the same car. The Patrol saw a makeover in the form of 22” wheels, dual sport exhaust, rear LED fog lights, an aero kit clad in red accents, an interior totally redone in Nismo fashion, Bilstein suspension, and retuned engine outputting 428hp and 560 nm of torque (up 28 hp over the former top trim).
Nissan seems to be pulling out all the stops to persuade fans of TRD 4Runners, Tacomas, and Tundras to switch camps. Whether it works or not in the North American market is yet to be seen, and may determine the future of the brand as a whole.
The final countdown
Nismo’s signature red accents and upgrades are similar to Honda’s Type R approach: more power, upgraded suspension and braking, and a slew of aero bits and styling accents. The package overall results in a more aggressive look, adding much needed flair that may entice new buyers to enter Nissan’s showrooms. There have been doubts for some time on whether Nissan can survive as a brand in North America. Struggling for years before the pandemic with declining sales and an unstable foothold on maintaining a unique brand-identity, Nissan has been forced into making massive cuts to remain in the region.
With their recent announcement of the new Z and redesigned fleet of vehicles, this may be Nissan’s last chance to turn things around. Although the automaker named after the rising sun has been seeing some cloudy days, we sincerely hope the sun doesn’t set on their stay here in the US.