UPDATE: Premcar has confirmed it will build the Patrol Warrior, confirming it will have “wheel, tyre and suspension enhancements” that will give it “greater ground clearance, a wider stance and enhanced ride and handling, taking its already-famed off-road abilities and touring performance to new levels.” No timing has been confirmed for when the the Patrol Warrior will go on sale or how much it will cost.
“Nissan Australia’s confirmation of the Patrol Warrior program sends a big signal to Australia’s SUV buyers,” said Premcar Engineerging director, Bernie Quinn. “The Y62-series Patrol is already a mighty vehicle and the engineering and enhancement program we have planned together will raise its impressive capabilities even further. It will also deliver another locally developed vehicle perfectly suited to Australian customers and conditions.”
Nissan believes there’s more room to expand its range of locally-modified Warrior line-up – but ruled out chasing Ford’s Ranger Raptor with a V8-powered Navara.
Nissan Australia teamed up with Premcar, the local engineering firm that evolved from Prodrive Australia, to produce the more-rugged and off-road capable Navara PRO-4X Warrior. The partnership recently expanded to offer a cheaper but still capable Navara SL Warrior (priced from $58,000) and is working on a possible Patrol Warrior.
Asked if there was potential for expanding the Warrior line-up, Nissan Australia managing director, Adam Paterson, didn’t hesitate to say, “absolutely.”
The Patrol Warrior hasn’t officially been signed off, although Premcar released a sketch of the potential new model at the same time it teased the Navara SL Warrior, which indicates it’s highly likely.
Paterson is confident more Warriors will come as Nissan management sees the popularity of the Navara models and the high-quality work from the Premcar team.
“The program is gaining support within Nissan,” Paterson told Torquecafe. “As you’d imagine when there’s conversion done by an outside partner it’s looked at very closely by the organisation, collectively, to ensure it’s meeting a quality level that we expect and we engineer ourselves.
“The [Navara] has been on-sale for approximately a year, Warrior itself is doing quite well. It’s obviously fitting a need within the market and that’s not just one that’s in [the] ute [market], it’s in other parts of the market as well. If we can continue to work with them [Premcar], which we are doing, to develop products that there’s a market for then we’re absolutely after that.”
However, despite the popularity of the Ford Ranger Raptor, which has just emerged with a new twin-turbo V6 petrol-powered second-generation model, Paterson doesn’t plan on getting into a horsepower war with the blue oval.
Asked if Premcar has tried to fit the V8 engine from the Patrol into the Navara, Paterson explained that the partnership is focused on off-road capability rather than high-performance because he believes that’s where the best opportunity is for Nissan.
“Why capability versus powertrain modifications? Because that’s where customers today who are taking a ute and spending aftermarket dollars on it and primarily spending it on capability more so than performance enhancement,” Paterson explained. “That’s where the focus has been for us, because we’re still trying to deliver a vehicle at a price point. We’d all like to build a $500,000 ute but we’re all trying to build a ute that’s still accessible at a price point. PRO-4X is between $73-74,000 drive-away, depending on which state you live in, and that’s the price we think is accessible.”
He added: “If we go and spend ‘X amount’ on a motor enhancement, but the market for that is only 200 trucks per year, it’s not going to cover the entry ticket for the one or two customers who can go and do that on their own. It’s not about a cap, there’s a customer out there for everything, but it’s the amount of them. And from a program perspective it seemed the capability is the thing customers are doing on their own primarily.”