A Datsun SUV has been confirmed for the Indian market, with Thomas Kuehl, president of Nissan India Operations hinting that it will hit the market early in 2019.
Speaking with Autocar India, Kuehl said that Datsun is trying to lift its profile in keeping with its brand motto “A car for every lifestyle; a car to challenge life”.
“At the moment, we don’t have a strong product portfolio, so we are trying to fix that,” Kuehl told Autocar. “Yes, our life cycle management is not the best at the moment, but you will see that we will have a major event every six months from this festival season onwards.”
The new crossover will be built on the same platform as a forthcoming Renault people mover, using the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-A underpinnings.
If you think that’s strange, the platform has the flexibility to be crafted into anything from a small hatchback to a people mover and a crossover. This is part of Nissan’s efficiency program, using a similar architecture to create several different models across all brands.
While Kuehl wouldn’t be drawn on details of the new crossover, but he did say “You will see a Datsun SUV under Rs 10 lakh. I can’t say more but I promise you it will be a killer in the market.”
Clearly, to keep it at that price level it will be fairly basic, but Datsun will need to equip it with enough safety gear to keep it out of the headlines.
Indian vehicles have been criticised recently for failing to pass crucial safety tests, and Datsun – which is a division of Nissan – will want to avoid negative publicity.
The new Datsun SUV is expected to be just under four metres long and will be more of a crossover than a proper SUV. This means front-wheel-drive will be standard with the prospect of an all-wheel-drive version to feature later on.
Under the bonnet will be a turbocharged petrol version of the 1.0-litre engine found in the Datsun Redi Go. It should be mated to a five speed manual gearbox with an automatic being a possibility.
The brand has been active in India since 2014, but has struggled to gain much traction thanks to a very competitive marketplace. Datsun hopes that the new SUV and refreshes of its Go range will help to boost the brand’s presence.
Part of this strategy is the pricing of vehicles. Datsun will cover cars costing Rs 10 lakh or less, while Nissan will handle vehicles above that price point.