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According to Yo Usaba, senior veep of powertrains for Nissan, the upcoming clean diesel engine for the next Nissan Maxima may be paired only with a manual transmission. Although the stick would likely be the most efficient transmission choice, it doesn't seem all that appropriate for the American market, where automatic transmissions are the rule. It seems that Nissan is concerned with turbo-lag, which is the lull before the turbocharger kicks in and delivers the power. For this reason, the new diesel X-Trail for the Japanese market will come only in a shift-it-yourself flavor.
Apparently, diesels have the same poor reputation in Japan as in the U.S. and many Japanese drivers are stick-shift neophytes. Since this information hasn't kept Nissan from launching its first diesel in its home market with a manual transmission as its sole option, many are concluding that the same could be true in the states. We hope not, as sales would surely be negatively impacted by such a decision. A CVT would likely be a decent choice for this application, and Nissan has proven rather adept at making its seamless transmissions sell in America. We hope that it can make that combination work.
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]