2014 NISSAN PATHFINDER AUSTRALIA
Speaking with TMR at the launch of the 2014 Pathfinder, Mr Jones said the slow-selling Murano would continue to be a part of the company’s extensive line up of SUVs.
The current Murano launched in 2009, and features the same suspension architecture, transmission and VQ35DE petrol V6 engine as the newly-arrived R52 Pathfinder.
Like the Pathfinder, the Murano is only available with a single petrol engine and CVT automatic transmission.
However, unlike the Pathfinder, the Murano does not offer a cheaper 2WD option. And, at $48,790, the Murano ST is $8800 more expensive than the entry-level Pathfinder.
“Not everybody wants a seven-seater, and Murano’s a little bit smaller,” Jones told TMR.
“At the end of the day there will be some people who would have considered Murano before and wouldn’t have considered the Pathfinder because of its body-on-rail construction, but would now consider a [new] Pathfinder.”
“If you’re asking whether I believe there will be some cannibalisation between the two, the answer is absolutely yes, but not everyone will be wanting something [of the Pathfinder’s] size.”
But while Murano sales are slowing (just 32 were sold in September), Nissan expects the new Pathfinder to deliver a solid boost to the company’s sales numbers.
Sales of the old body-on-frame R51 Pathfinder only ever accounted for a small fraction of the large SUV market, but the more refined and spacious new R52 Pathfinder is expected to find its way into substantially more driveways.
“This is going to appeal to more of the market,” Jones said. “Monocoque construction accounts for 90 percent of [the SUV] market, so it’s going to have a broader appeal.”
“We do have higher expectations [for sales], but we’re not going to talk about those numbers just yet.
“We think the Pathfinder ST-L with the option package will really hit the spot, but we’ve got plenty of stock coming and supply from the US is unconstrained. If we need more, we’ll be able to order more.”
TMR understands that the Dualis replacement won’t be offered with a seven-seat body style (like the current Dualis +2), given the X-Trail will adopt a seven-seat configuration when it arrives in the second quarter of 2014.
With the Dualis still a strong seller (it currently accounts for just under 20 percent of the small SUV market), Jones addressed concerns that the move to 'Qashqai' would be a repeat of the decision to replace the Pulsar name with the ultimately less popular Tiida.
“The major issue was that we were the only market that was holding out with the Dualis name,” Jones said.
“Everywhere else including Japan had decided to go with Qashqai for the new model, so it didn’t really make economic sense to stay with Dualis.”
Mr Jones said that a key difference this time around is that the new Qashqai represents "an absolute model change", completely moving the posts on what the outgoing Dualis and incoing Qashqai models represent.
“One of the questions that’s been asked is ‘are you making the same mistake that you made with Tiida’, and the answer is absolutely not," he said.
When you look at where the Tiida was in the market and how people thought of that car, when you see the [Qashqai] it’s a totally different thing.
He said the brand's own dealers have raised concerns about dropping a successful nameplate: "We showed them the Qashqai a couple of weeks ago, and those concerns evaporated."
“Once they saw the car, they realised how different it was and how good it was, and there was no concern about the name change.”
MORE: 2014 Pathfinder reviews