Nissan’s top-secret Ranger Raptor rival? New Nismo ute leaked

Nissan seemingly working on a new Nismo ute to go head-to-head with the Ford Ranger Raptor and incoming Toyota GR HiLux, with an image of a Nismo-stamped Frontier leaking to media after being shown to US dealers. 

The boxy, tough-looking truck, revealed on the Nissan Nation Productions YouTube channel, appears to fitted with all-terrain tyres, blacked-out wheel arches and a red design treatment around the grille and wheel arches, but the thing that has really gotten tongues wagging is the lettering across the front end.

While half the car is cut off, two big, bold letters are clearly visible. And they are a giant ‘M’ and ‘O’, leading to solid speculation that the missing letters in front of them are an ‘N’, an ‘I’ and an ‘S’ for Nismo.

The vehicle in question is the Nissan Frontier, due to be replaced for the 2021 model year, which is the Japanese brand’s Navara-sized ute – it’s built on the same platform – for the US  market. 

And while we don’t yet know what might power a Nismo version of the truck, we do know that the new model will get a 3.8-litre V6 engine good for around 231kW and 381Nm – and we know that Nissan has a 298kW and 560Nm of V8 at its disposal – so it doesn’t take much imagination to cook up just what could power the performance truck. 

The big question is, what does that mean for the Navara? Nissan, both globally and in Australia, has made no secret of their desire for a Ranger Raptor-rivalling ute. 

Nissan’s global LCV chief, Francois Bailly, wouldn’t rule out a Navara Nismo when we asked him about it at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show, instead saying his team had studied the success of the Ranger Raptor. 

“(The Raptor) is very interesting pick-up truck, and a significant success in Australia, but not just in Australia, and we are looking at those trends very precisely,” he said.

For its part, Nissan in Australia is pushing for a hi-po ute, too, telling CarsGuide it was “keeping the pressure on”.

“I would love the team at global to give us an engine that’s in another car, we’ve got some tremendous engines,” Nissan boss Stephen Lester told CarsGuide in July.

“I can only hope that LCV team heeds some of that pressure from our group – we’re not the only ones around the world that would like to see it. We’re always keeping the pressure on.

“Trust me, we don’t miss an opportunity to remind them that there’s a pretty big engine bay there that could fit an extra couple of cylinders…”