- Curators of Nissan's Nismo in-house tuning brand say the unit will expand beyond performance modifications.
- The future Nismo strategy will be oriented almost exclusively to car-based model lines.
- There will be Nismo RS models for buyers focused on outright performance.
CHICAGO — After a long drought of no product since releasing the 350Z Nismo to America in 2007, we ask Nissan's two Nismo product bosses why they chose the offbeat (and already kinda spicy) Juke as the next model to get the Nismo in-house-tuning treatment.
"Why not?" replies Carl Phillips, Nismo's chief marketing manager. The Juke is unique and not for everybody, he says, and that's critical to Nissan's new thinking regarding the direction of the company's storied performance unit. Not only is Nismo going to mean more than just performance upgrades, it's also no longer going to be theoretically applicable to any vehicle in Nissan's model range. Stray bullets like the short-lived Frontier Nismo aren't in the future plan, nor is, say, something like a Nismo-modified Murano or Armada.
Going forward, the Nismo treatment is going to be applied more consistently — and most likely exclusively to car lines, adds Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist in the Nismo business office, in an interview during the recent 2013 Chicago Auto Show here. Moreover, Nissan wants Nismo to represent tuner modification available to everyone, not just buyers with deep pockets.
Neither Nismo brand guardian believes it's proper to have a Nismo version of every model in the lineup, despite the fact that several high-line automakers seem intent on doing just that, applying their own in-house tuning treatment to everything from compact cars to SUVs.
"You will see more Nismo models (in the future) where it makes sense," said Phillips. I don't think you need to see a Nismo model in every single segment. We want to be genuine about this."
Equally important, Nismo's future strategy is going to expand into a broader appeal than just performance. Although the unit's heritage is tied to motorsports and thus Nismo's "foundation" appeal will remain performance enhancement, the unit's modification strategy will broaden to include personalization and advanced technology.
Simply put, not all customers are turned on purely by performance, Tamura says; Nismo now has to appeal to a new generation of buyers who might want to spend their "tuning" dollar to have the most cutting-edge technology (think advanced electronic features) or unique appearance components.
Yes, Nismo-modified vehicles always will have performance upgrades of some kind, but there will be a blending of personalization and high-tech features. For those who still crave more in terms of performance, there will be Nismo RS models.
After the 2013 Juke Nismo launches this spring, both men say additions to the Nismo lineup will come sooner than later, but won't specify the next Nismo model.
Edmunds says: Now that the U.S. is emerging from the Great Recession, now is the time to expand Nismo.