The all-new US-designed Nissan Altima will be seen on Australian racetracks before it hits the streets, after Nissan Australia and Kelly Racing confirmed the Camry-sized vehicle would challenge the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore in the V8 Supercar Championship in 2013.
Speaking to motoring.com.au, Rick Kelly also confirmed that his race team would use the Nissan Patrol's V8 engine, the 5.6-litre Japanese-made V8 engine codenamed VK56DE.
"Nissan Australia has never been more excited about the future," said Ian Moreillon, executive general manager of national sales and fleet, who confirmed the Altima's motor racing debut will precede its arrival in dealerships.
"We're extremely excited about this [Nissan Altima] project. We're going to do some things that are new to the sport," hinted Nissan's sales boss.
"We will be able to say we're one of the only racecars on the grid which has got the basis of an engine that is sold in a road car in Australia."
While the new Kelly Racing Nissan Altima V8 race car engine will have a 5.0-litre displacement, different to the Nissan Patrol's 5.6-litre capacity, Nissan will make a lot of noise in 2013 that it has more manufacturer DNA in its race car than its Holden and Ford rivals.
"The big thing with Car of the Future is [that our new Nissan V8 Supercar] is going to have more Nissan DNA in our car than our current Holden car does from Holden," added Rick Kelly, who said very few parts of the current Commodore are supplied by Holden.
Nissan's entry into V8 Supercars is unique in that its race car will precede the road car, and Nissan hopes to generate enormous pre-release interest for the new Altima mid-sized car by taking this approach.
Though Nissan wouldn't be drawn on the exact timing of the production car, apart from saying later in 2013, it may coincide with the Bathurst 1000, usually held in October.
"We have a planning date," explained Moreillon, who went decidedly quiet when asked if the Nissan Altima's production launch would align with a significant Australian motorsport event. "It's maybe a good idea," he eventually said with a smile.
We'll have more details on the new Nissan Altima tomorrow, when the car has its international debut at the New York Motor Show.