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Pulsar to lead Nissan renaissance
Nissan Pulsar. Supplied picture

Nissan will use the 2012 Australian International Motor Show to re-introduce an old friend to the Australian public.

In a move to establish itself as one of the most successful importers in Australia, the Japanese car maker is about to increase significantly the number of passenger cars in its range.

And it is going to start by bringing back the Pulsar - including the sporty SSS variant, a model that proved popular when it was sold here between 1980 and 2005.

It was initially sold as a well-specified 1.4-litre five-speed manual five-door hatchback and was brought into the line-up to sell alongside the 120Y-based Sunny sedan and wagon.

Just 12 months later it became Nissan's staple small car.

When Nissan made the decision to replace the Pulsar with the Tiida it was the seventh-best-selling car in Australia and was only outsold by the Mazda3, Holden Astra and Toyota Corolla in the small-car market.

Nissan will be hoping that Pulsar's return will become a cornerstone in its Australian product renaissance.

Australian sales will start with the 1.8-litre, four-door sedan at the beginning of February. It will be available with the choice of a six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission and in three specification levels, ST, ST-L and the range-topping Ti.

Pricing will start at $19,990 plus on-road costs.

The sedan will be followed three months later by the hatch, including the sporty SSS variant, which will be powered by a 140kW 1.6-litre turbocharged, direct- injection petrol engine.

The arrival of the SSS nameplate will mark the return of an exciting icon whose performance credentials were a hit with a generation of drivers and car enthusiasts.

MAZDA WORLD FIRST

Mazda is another manufacturer that will be using the show for a significant event, hosting the world premiere of its new-look CX-9 crossover SUV.

The latest CX-9 - which gets a fresh face based on Mazda's Kodo design language that first appeared on the smaller CX-5 SUV - will be unveiled alongside the all-new Mazda6 sedan and wagon.

Mazda CX-9 Crossover. Supplied picture

It is the second successive year that the Japanese car maker has used the Australian International Motor Show for a world release. Last year it revealed the BT50 dual-cab in Melbourne.

The new CX-9 has not only undergone some front and rear design changes, but also gains some high-tech features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and automatic high-beam headlights.

The infotainment system also gains voice-recognition control as well as the latest sat-nav and audio systems.

Under the bonnet the 3.7-litre V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the only powertrain on offer, remain unchanged.

Mazda will also reveal its new-look MX-5 roadster coupe, which has undergone a number of exterior and interior upgrades as well as tweaks under the bonnet.

On the flipside, BMW and Audi headline a long list of manufacturers who have opted not to participate at this year's show.

Both companies said their absence was because of alternative marketing, having increased their involvement in sporting and cultural events.

In contrast, German rival Mercedes-Benz will stage its biggest-ever exhibition.

Among those also not involved with this year's show will be premium brands Rolls-Royce, Mini, Bentley and Alfa Romeo; French brands Renault and Citroen; Italy's Ferrari, Maserati and Fiat; North America's Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Tesla; China's Great Wall and Chery; plus Volvo, Lotus, SsangYong and Mahindra.

That means only about half of the 50-odd car brands currently in Australia will be present at the nation's only motor show.