Nissan Wants to take on the Ranger Raptor with a Meaner Navara
Nissan Studying opportunity to capitalize on Raptor crazeby Mark McNabb, on
Nissan might begin studying an opportunity to build a high-performance off-road version of its Navara pickup to compete against the new Ford Ranger Raptor. The news comes from Australia’s Motoring, who spoke with Renault-Nissan’s global light commercial vehicle boss, Ashwani Gupta, as he traveled Down Under for the launch of Nissan’s updated Navara pickup with more driver safety features.
Gupta was apparently petitioned by Nissan Australia’s Managing Director, Stephen Lester, who said the high-performance truck is what Australians want.
“If you would had asked me this question yesterday [about a Raptor rival] I would have said this is not in our priority list,” Gupta told Motoring. “But if you are asking this question today then I am saying this is an opportunity we would like to study.”
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A Nissan Navara Raptor Fighter
If we need to upgrade tough and smart Navara to the sports grade we can do it very easily
The current Nissan Navara is new enough that it wouldn’t need a complete update before getting a swanky off-road model. In fact, the upcoming 2018 model gains new comfort and safety features designed to keep it competitive in the Australian market.
When it comes to updating the Navara to compete with the 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor, however, Ashwani Gupta, said, “If we need to upgrade tough and smart Navara to the sports grade we can do it very easily. But the most important thing is which powertrain we adopt. That is the study which we need to do.”
It just so happens, however, that Nissan is partnered with Mercedes-Benz in building the new X-Class pickup, which largely based on the Navara. The X-Class boasts an optional engine that could be just the answer for a hopped-up Navara – a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6.
The Mercedes-sourced V-6 kicks out a respectable 257 horsepower and a respectable 406 pound-feet of torque.
That would blow the 2019 Ranger Raptor’s new 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder out of the water. It only musters 210 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Ford, however, does back the four-pot with its new 10-speed automatic transmission and smart, electronically controlled transfer case.
According to Gupta, he said “We have not yet checked it, but for sure from today we will study… what kind of specification we need.” Being on top isn’t a bad place to be when it comes to a halo model, of course.
The frame, suspension, skid plates, wheels, tires, transfer case, and differentials will all need attention.
Of course, power isn’t the only special ingredient needed for a Ranger Raptor competitor. The frame, suspension, skid plates, wheels, tires, transfer case, and differentials will all need attention. Luckily Renault-Nissan has a large enough parts bin and engineering team such challenges won’t be a problem.
The 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor gets an updated, strengthened frame, stronger control arms, 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks, and a Watt’s Linkage on its rear axle, along with highly tuned drive modes that modulate almost every aspect of the drivetrain, along with the two-speed transfer case.
Nissan could reach out to Fox Racing, or like Chevrolet, go a different route with spool valve shocks from Multimatic. Of course, other shock brands like Bilstein would surely love the opportunity to supply high-end parts to Nissan.
Nissan could also borrow the Mercedes X-Class’ widened suspension
Nissan could also borrow the Mercedes X-Class’ widened suspension, too. The X-Class’ suspension is 2.4 inches wider than the stock Navara – and if combined with the Navara body and some aggressive fender flares – would give the Nissan that beefy stance made popular by the Ford F-150 Raptor and now the Ranger Raptor.
And like the Ranger Raptor, the Navara features a solid rear axle and five-link coil spring suspension. Strengthening of parts would need to happen, along with coordinating with the shock absorber supplier, to ensure the suspension components work well together and are capable of lasting through extreme duty cycles.
Nissan would have to inject some excitement into its Raptor competitor. Count on heavily bolstered front seats, special plaques or badges, and perhaps a trim-specific gauge cluster with a more athletic appearance.
Renault-Nissan’s Other Options
Not only would the Asian Pacific market love a Navara-based Ranger Raptor fighter, but the idea would certainly resonate well in America, too.
Intriguingly, Gupta’s responsibilities also cover the Light Commercial Vehicle models of Nissan’s alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi. That means Gupta has access to both the Renault Alaskan and Mitsubishi Triton.
“We have three distinct brands so if Mitsubishi customer is asking for it we will consolidate the request, if Renault is asking for it we will consolidate the request,” he told Motoring.
That means if Nissan’s product planners don’t like the idea of a Ranger Raptor fighter, Gupta could run the same idea by Renault and Mitsubishi. Of course, such an idea isn’t something any automaker would wisely pass up.
It’s unknown what Nissan’s plans for the mid-size Frontier pickup in North America include, but rumors have swirled suggesting the Navara as the successor. Naturally, this makes sense as both General Motors and now Ford has derived a U.S.-spec pickup from their globally available pickups. Yep, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are derivatives from the Chevy Colorado currently on sale around the world; the same is true for the upcoming Ford Ranger set to launch in North America come 2019.
Nissan would be very wise to deeply and carefully consider its options and future here. Not only would the Asian Pacific market love a Navara-based Ranger Raptor fighter, but the idea would certainly resonate well in America, too.
Breath deep, though, as Nissan is just now beginning to explore the idea, and vehicle development generally takes three to four years. So, whether Nissan chooses to move forward with the project or abandon the idea, it will be years before we see anything official – that is, unless Nissan publically cancels the project.
Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Navara.
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