Nismo Australian launch:: GT-R could be first cab off the rank, more planned

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Nissan Australia won’t officially confirm when its tuning arm Nismo will launch locally, and there’s still no clear picture of which will be the first tuned model to hit showrooms when the brand does eventually arrive. What is known is that the heavy-hitting Nismo GT-R will be joined by the 370Z Nismo and the Juke Nismo RS in the Australian line-up, though not necessarily in that order. The company is hoping, however, that it will have more than one Nismo model available from launch. Following the incredible Nismo Festival in Fuji, CarAdvice headed to Sodegaura Forest Raceway in Chiba to spend a day punting various Nismo-tuned vehicles, to see what we’ll get locally – and what we’ll miss out on. In typical Japanese launch drive fashion, we weren’t allowed the most spirited of sessions and there was a very conservative pace car leading the way, but we did get to have a close look at Nismo versions of the Juke, Micra, Note, and GT-R. For starters, a two-lap blast in the Nismo GT-R with a retired Super GT driver behind the wheel illustrated just how brutally capable the GT-R is and what it’s able to do in the hands of a seasoned race driver – it’s an awesome experience flat-out on track. The Nismo GT-R is going to be well beyond the realms of the average driver, and properly licence endangering if you let it loose on Australian roads – just as a GT-R should be. The Nismo Micra on the other hand is a fun little hatch to thrash around the track, and it’s a shame that it’s unlikely to join the local range. “It’s unlikely that we’ll get the Micra for our market, unfortunately,” said Chris Jordan from Nissan Australia. “That said, we haven’t yet confirmed the exact models or timing for Australia.” The Nismo Note also left a solid impression after a few short laps of the circuit, with its taut suspension and excellent grip. Both hot hatches remind us what we’re missing in Australia when it comes to tuned small cars. The Note is an interesting Honda Jazz-like take on the compact sector and would make an impression in Australia if Nissan could secure it. That looks almost as unlikely as Nismo Micra coming to Australia, though, despite its obvious appeal. While Nismo is often accused of simply dressing up vehicles, it only takes a short blast in a few variants to realise there’s a lot more to it than that. The handling of the Micra and Note at speed on track definitely surpass the abilities of the standard platforms. It’s just a shame we won’t get a more broad Nismo portfolio in Australia.