The Many Nice Nissans That Are Not Available In Malaysia

A look at the many nice Nissans out there, while we in Malaysia are still to be stuck with decade-old models…

A couple of weeks ago now, one of the many random time-killing conversations that was had while being stuck in the notorious PJ rush hour traffic was somehow regarding time travel. And it just so happened that this topic came about right around the Section 13 area outside the Nissan showroom, which hence prompted the quip from me: “Just go in there if you feel like stepping 5 years back in time.”

Now admittedly, this jab might have been rather cruel at Nissan’s expense. Though considering that half its current local lineup consists of models (the X Trail and Serena) that have been on sale locally for nearly a decade already, there is arguably more than a bit of honest substance behind this aforementioned comment. 

But these jibes at the expense of Nissan doesn’t really have to be that way any more actually. Such is especially as while the Japanese automaker did indeed have a pretty rough time in the latter part of the 2010s, in more recent times at least they do seem to have finally got out of the rough patch and have been producing some rather neat cars again. 

Unfortunately for us Malaysians here however, the local distributors for Nissan seemed to have (in the kindest possible terms) “forgot” to actually offer any of these now rather neat Nissans over here. So just in case they needed it then, here is therefore a (rather long) list of nice Nissans that we would rather like to see over here, please? 

Nissan Ariya

Kicking off with what is the most in-vogue Nissan right now first, the Ariya is Nissan’s entry into the super hot e-SUV segment. While perhaps not as cheap and cheerful as say the Chery Omoda E5 or technologically cool as the Tesla Model Y, this thoroughly Japanese offering should nevertheless have more than enough Nippon flair inside and out to complement its rather competent tech specs (up to 610 km of range from its 91 kWh battery) in tempting Malaysians to at least consider popping by their local showrooms to have a look. 

Oh, it would be remissed to not mention too the Nismo version of the Ariya, which apparently features chassis tuning from Formula E to rein in its 320 kW and 600 Nm of all-wheel drive torque. 

Nissan Sakura 

And for something properly cheap and cheerful meanwhile, there is always the Nissan Sakura. 

Japan’s best selling EV for 2023, this all-electric four-door kei car packs enough grown-up tech and practicality to potentially see it be a real option for Malaysians looking for an zero-emissions (and nearly zero-maintenence) city runabout. Plus with a top speed of 130 km/h too, this tiny EV should be to take on the occasional highway trip from its 180 km claimed range as well. 

What more is that this kei EV would definitely sell like hot cakes over here if priced affordable enough. A feat which should not be a problem if Nissan’s local distributors would just put to use their vast experience in locally assembly, to make the Sakura cost roughly the same as the very reasonable ¥2,000,000 (RM 64,000) asking price in its native homeland. 

Nissan Serena 

Moving onto something similarly boxy but even more practical now, there has incidentally been a new sixth-generation Nissan Serena out since late 2022… 

Still happily the middle-of-the-road minivan that most of its sensible buyers love it for, this latest iteration of Serena has however received a boatload more (incidentally award-winning) tech to complement its revised interior and exterior glow up. Among the cooler features worth highlighting includes the ProPILOT 2.0 active safety suite that can perform hands-off single-lane driving at speeds of over 40 km/h, as well as a world-first energy management system that can work with the in-car navigation to alter the vehicle’s acceleration and braking in the aim of maximising fuel efficiency while on the cruise.  

Though perhaps the more impressive fuel-saving trick this latest Serena has up its sleeves is for it to be available with Nissan’s rather clever e-Power hybrid system that pairs an electric drive unit with a 1.4-litre three-pot petrol engine acting as a generator. This whole setup has been claimed by the manufacturer to yield an almost unbelievably efficient 20.6 km/l (4.85 l/100 km), while still outputting a decent combined 163 PS and 315 Nm of torque. 

Nissan X-Trail

Continuing further too on models that have long since got a refresh but never made it over here, a successor to the current iteration of X-Trail in Malaysia has actually been out long enough to receive its first facelift already. 

Initially introduced to the world back in 2021, Nissan has finally since sharpened up the lines of this once-boxy-then-blobby SUV. New to this X-Trail too is a rather trick 1.5-litre electrified turbocharged variable compression ratio three-pot with varying degrees of fuel-efficient e-Power hybrid options, which when paired with the 7-seat option would certainly give the new CR-V a run for its money, if it ever made it here that is… 

Nissan Qashqai

As for those who something just slightly smaller than the X-Trail on the other hand, Nissan handily has the Qashqai to fill that niche. 

An immensely hot seller in Europe and China, the Qashqai’s initial success was due to it being essentially the pioneering vehicle that kicked off the whole crossover craze going on right now. But the enduring sales success it enjoys in those regions to this day, even amid all the stiff competition, is really because this latest iteration from 2021 had continued to incrementally improved on its tried-and-tested fuss-free family mobile formula, with just enough new simple tech and frugal electrified power plants that most normal people — including likely a whole lot of regular Malaysians — would simply say yes to. 

Nissan Kicks

Side Note: This bit was written before Nissan announced the debut of its all new Kicks, which has since paired more space and more tech with a significantly more modern and macho look. 

Going even smaller still on the Nissan SUV size chart meanwhile is its Kicks compact crossover, which has incidentally been available to purchase by our neighbours up north, south and west since 2020 already.  

A competitor to the likes of Mazda’s CX-3 and Proton’s X50, the Kicks USP is to be its e-Power purely-electric-drive system, which in this application at least sees for a naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre three-pot serving as the on-board generator to power its 95 kW front-mounted drive motor. Other highlights with this compact crossover included Nissan’s supremely comfortable ‘zero-gravity’ front seats, as well as comprehensive Nissan Safety Shield ADAS suite. 

Funnily enough, there were actually rumours for the Kicks to land in Malaysia dating all the way back to 2018. Given for this iteration compact crossover is likely towards the end of its 8-year life now in 2024, it therefore does seem highly unlikely that a local debut of this generation at least will be imminent any more. Though the local Nissan distributors over here do have a penchant for still churning out severely outdated models. So who really knows…

Nissan Note

And on that note (heh) too, another similarly hinted at but never actually materialised local Nissan arrival is its Note mid-sized hatchback, which would have certainly gone down a storm with those looking for an even more practical Honda Jazz… if its brand custodians actually launched it over here when they initially hinted they were, way back in 2013. 

Having said that, even in 2024, this third-iteration of Japan-centric Note launched three years ago will likely still have a place among the hot-selling Honda City Hatchback and Toyota Yaris over here, especially with this compact 5-door mini MPV’s relatively greater practicality, electrified e-Power propulsion system and new rotating passenger seat feature coming as standard.

In fact, there is even a slightly jacked-up version of this hatchback (that is dubbed the Note Autech Crossover) will likely even see Nissan make a strong showing in the compact crossover segment over here. As for those who fancy something slightly more fancy with their Note on the other hand, Nissan also has the more atas Note Aura in its arsenal, with this particular variant further spawning its own Nismo ‘swift electrified city racer’ warmed-up edition as well. 

Nissan Z

Though for something properly swift though, this is perhaps where the new Nissan Z comes in. 

Packing a healthy 400 hp and 475 Nm of torque from its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, this latest sports car to wear the iconic Z badge certainly has more than enough oomph to see it set a decent lap round the Wangan (especially when fitted with a few minor mods). Those who prefer to touge meanwhile would be glad to hear that the standard transmission with this Nissan is a 6-speed manual, with a limited-slip diff available as well. 

But let’s all be frank here, this new Z’s retro-inspired styling — which recalls all the best parts from all the best Zs from days gone by — was already to be more than enough for one’s heart to say yes already, didn’t it?

Nissan GT-R

And in saving the best for last here, Malaysia still hasn’t actually seen the official arrival of the R35 GT-R yet, in all its nearly 17 years since it first went on sale. 

A nearly two-decade old car it might be already, but this R35 iteration of Godzilla is still the all-wheel-drive twin-turbocharged 600+ hp monster that can slay the most modern of supercars from Germany and Italy. And while its long production may be finally coming to an end soon too, there would more likely than not still be a market over here for at least a handful of these aging warhorses. Besides, it would still certainly be a rather cool thing to see at a Nissan showroom in any case.

Honestly though Tan Chong, any of these 9 nice Nissans stated here would already more than freshen up the stale local lineup of yours over here. Sure, GAC might now be your new baby, but you should have the capacity to not let Nissan die off in Malaysia like that… 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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