During the sport-compact boom of the 90's early 2000's I was into Hondas. I had a 95' Prelude Si with some Altezza lights bro. But I remember Nissan having a nice variety of models for those of us looking for some cheap speed that was easily modified. Names like Sentra SE-R, NX, 240SX, even the Maxima made fine platforms for all the goodies we found in the ads of Sport Compact Car. Now this is not some post where I suggest that a brand return to those glory days when disposable income was high and young people were dumping money into their rides. Times have changed, buyers have changed, but the sad fact is young people really don't care about Nissan anymore and that is a problem for the brand.
But we want a Toyobaru fighter!
No you don't….o.k. some of you want the retro 510 throwback the iDx. If Nissan builds it chances are it will suffer the same fate as the Toyobaru twins. A ton of hype in the beginning, with some rapid sales, which will eventually level off because most folks will find it too small and too under-powered. Will it be a cool car? Yes. Will it sell in large numbers? No. Nissan needs something youthful and fun than can appeal to a wider market.
You are not fooling me with the Sentra NISMO
For real, how many of you were actually excited about the Sentra Nismo concept? Have we heard any updates? Currently the car is still categorized as a "concept" on Nissan's website. But you know what is a "future vehicle"? The Versa Note SR-
Here is the best line- "...it is really all about appearances." While the Fiesta ST and Sonic RS are grabbing younger buyers like crazy, Nissan decides to slap a body kit on the Versa. The only reason to buy a Versa Note is you need a car today and the Honda dealer ran out of Fits.
They need a hatchback...and not an ugly one
Nissan has one car in the lineup that is both affordable and fun, the Juke. The Juke NISMO is pretty cool but it is getting lost in the shuffle with the other hot-hatches. The brand managed to sell 38k Jukes last year. Meanwhile, in 2013 Mazda sold 103k 3s and Ford was moving 234k units of the Focus. There is no way to tell how many of the Focus and 3s were 5 doors but my informal observations say a good chunk of them.
They need something more mainstream; Nissan just released the new Pulsar hatchback for the European market but not the US. This would be the perfect vehicle to regain younger buyers who want something stylish, fuel efficient, affordable, and content rich. There is even a GTI rivaling 200+hp RS in the works. If Nissan really wants to be serious about the whole NISMO thing, they'll take that 240hp motor from the concept and drop it in this hatch. That will get people excited. The iDx is for auto-journos and internet commenters, the 5-door Pulsar is for people who actually buy cars.
The fact is Nissan, it doesn't matter how many times you show an Altima "drifting" in the sand you are on the verge of becoming the next Toyota. It doesn't have to be this way.
(photo credits Auto Express and Nissan)