Tokyo Motor Show

December 3, 2011 by staff 

Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan is going to inject extra energy into its product lineup with the announcement here that Nismo — a Japanese performance-tuning enterprise that has operated (until now) outside the Nissan family — will be embraced within the corporate structure.

Nismo has been tweaking Nissan products for 30 years and has become a very successful brand, especially here in Japan. For example, this past racing season, Nismo teams won every racing series it entered. Now, Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn wants that DNA injected into his company’s product lineup and is building the firm a new facility adjacent to Nissan’s research and development operations to make that goal a reality.

To demonstrate what the closer relationship can do, Ghosn introduced the Nismo Juke concept, a hint of what future Nismo-massaged vehicles will look like.

Ian Forsyth, Nissan Canada’s director of corporate planning and business strategy, says plans for Nismo include a range of vehicles — and he adds that he is looking “real seriously” at putting the Juke version in his dealers’ showrooms. Forsyth says the focus of Nismo will not just be tuner and performance parts, but complete vehicles such as the Juke concept. Such vehicles will be integrated into the product portfolio, taking performance and driver experience to new heights without going to the extreme, all-or-nothing level of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG models, for example.

This approach is in tune with the changes made to the Juke, a sporty compact crossover that’s already creating its own market segment with more than 232,000 units sold globally. Shinji Sasaki, chief designer in Nissan’s global design centre and the creator of the current Maxima sedan, was charged with giving the production Juke some Nismo flavour. He says the changes made to the vehicle reflect the direction he will be taking with other Nismo versions of Nissan products. Specifically, Sasaki says exterior changes that improve a vehicle’s aerodynamics and stability at speed will be one part of a Nismo makeover. Inside the cabin, controls, gauges, seats and other elements will be upgraded to make them more driver-oriented, enhancing the driving experience by adding a more sporty flair. And, naturally, engines will be tweaked to a higher level of performance.

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