Just days after Nissan’s commercial vehicle division confirmed the development of a new SUV based on the chassis of the Navara ute, the first spy images of the new vehicle have hit the internet.
Caught in China at the joint venture Zhengzhou Nissan factory where the new model will be produced for that market, Auto.syd.com.cn published a rear three-quarter view of the car, while Burlapp Car found what appears to be an official image provided by a reader.
In the Chinese market the Navara SUV will wear the Paladin nameplate, while other markets are likely to adopt previously used Nissan SUV monikers like Xterra or Terrano.
At the recent Tokyo Motor Show, Ashwani Gupta, the man in charge of the recently created light commercial vehicle division of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, hinted that the the 2018 Beijing Motor Show in April could be the first official showing of the new SUV although these leaked images may push that date forward.
Locally, the Navara-based SUV would provide a replacement for towing and off-road enthusiasts looking to replace the previous generation Pathfinder which moved from body on frame construction to car-like monocoque assembly for the current model.
Despite its suitability here, the Navara wagon’s availability is anything but confirmed for Australia, where it would potentially face off against large SUVs like the Ford Everest, Isuzu MU-X and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
The Paladin’s Navara origins are clear in the images with front doors and guards shared with Nissan’s ute, but unique styling for the front end with stepped headlights and Nissan’s newest V-Motion grille design.
From the B-pillar back exterior bodywork is unique to the SUV version.
Beneath the sheet metal the Paladin is expected to carry over the Navara’s mechanical package meaning 2.3-litre turbo and twin-turbo diesel engines with six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions with some variations depending on market region.
Nissan’s somewhat unusual choice of a coil-sprung rear end for the Navara ute is also likely to feature under the rear of the production Paladin, with tuning changes made to aid ride comfort without diminishing off-road capabilities.
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